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It is not just the French who enjoy Pastis; it has wide-spread popularity in Northern Italy as well, which is what inspired Enrico and Piero to create their own distillations. Many of the plants used for their liqueurs are grown right in town, in a nearby field. This pastis is a blend of 35 herbs and spices macerated in neutral wheat distillate, and then redistilled. It is then lightly sweetened with Mascobado sugar and bottled at 45% ABV.
Heirloom Damson plums from the Red Jacket Orchards in upstate NY are freshly squeezed to create this updated version of a Sloe Gin. The American Gin Company uses these plums are distinct for their incredibly tart and slightly bitter flavor, which makes this gin-based liqueur bright enough to replace or complement the citrus element of your next cocktail. The tart plums are complemented by the botanicals of its gin base; juniper, bay leaf, ginger, and winter spices. Bottled at 33% ABV this liqueur finishes more tart than sweet making it versatile enough to be used either as cocktail base, a lower ABV alternative to gin, or as an accent in an aperitif.
Bordiga is a long-standing distillery established in 1888 outside of Turin, close to the Occitan Alps. They craft their own vermouths with Piedmontese grapes and infuse nearly thirty botanicals, some of which are foraged from the mountains nearby. Each botanical is macerated in neutral grain alcohol separately to ensure the best extraction and then blended into the base of Moscato and Cortese. The 'Extra-Dry' is fresh, herbaceous and has a pleasantly bitter finish. If you like more than a 'whisper' of vermouth in your martini, this is a great option. Michelle DeWyngaert
Beautiful interplay between sweet and bitter. Notes of citrus, lemon peel, grapefruit peel, white flowers, chamomile, fennel, and quinine.
Disclaimer: This is an Amaro for adventurous drinkers! Beginning with a rich red wine base, the production process involves a 6-month infusion with local flowers, herbs, and roots and the only sweetener used is a local tree sap. This yields an intensely bitter and dark spirit with a piney, earthy finish. I find it to be incredibly compelling and energizing, especially after a gluttonous meal, but it isn’t for the faint of heart! Tim Gagnon
This is an excellent amaro for those looking for something slightly less bitter as their digestif. The name Sfumato derives from the Italian word for smoke and refers the slightly smokey quality of the bitter roots used in the blend. The key ingredient for this amaro is the Chinese Rhubarb, which gives it a touch of sweetness and marries well with the alpine herbs and berries. Earthy, smokey, fruity, and herbaceous, all perfectly balanced together.
This is our go-to aperitif for spritzes. Compared to the larger producers on the market, this lands somewhere between Aperol and Campari on the bitterness scale, is made without unnatural colorings and additives, and is grape-based instead of using grain spirit. The vibrant color comes from the traditional carmine as aperitivos were originally made, and the wine base gives it a richer, more unctuous texture.
I love Vermut Negre, and I have for years. It's the sort of sweet red vermouth that I can move through with ease when it's in the fridge at home, even in it's signature liter format. It can fulfill the traditional sweet vermouth role in basically any cocktail that calls for it, but I love it most in simpler forms that highlight its own flavors. The bottle itself suggests the most classic way to drink it, associated with the Vermouth bars of Barcelona: on the rocks, topped with seltzer water, and garnished with an orange and an olive. It also makes a great Negroni! Ben Fletcher
The 'Dopo Teatro', originally designed as an after theatre digestif, this is a great option for anyone looking for a red vermouth with a little more bite. The base is a Vermouth di Torino, aromatized with chiretta flowers and cincona bark (the ingredient used to make quinine). The mix of bitter and sweet makes this a perfect pairing for dark chocolate desserts, and great in whiskey drinks. Try this in your next Manhattan!
New York City based distillery, Doc Herson's, crafts this delightful little absinthe, entirely from scratch. They distill their own neutral spirit from malted barley, then use a pot-still for a second distillation with a variety of herbs/botanicals like fennel, green anise, and grand wormwood. As there are no artificial colors or additives to any of their spirits, this green absinthe gets its color from a final maceration with fresh mint.
It may not be terribly in style, but we still love a great blanc vermouth on the rocks from time to time, and this is one of our favorites for sipping. Dolin was established in the late 1800's and continues to use the same recipes to this day, with local botanicals and locally sourced bottles and packaging. Delightfully off-dry, floral, a bit of sweet almond and white peach. Great on it's own, with a splash of seltzer, or try it with Tequila, it plays well with agave! Michelle DeWyngaert
Perhaps the benchmark for dry french Vermouth. Both complex and subtle, with floral and herbal flavors derived from the 54 or so secret ingredients. The first Vermouth I reach for when making a Martini, and an excellent drink on ice. JR
The Forthave Marseille Amaro is truly unique affair. Based on a medieval recipe of four thieves who, as the story goes, traded their secret concoction for clemency. It is at once soft and assertive. Eucalyptus, mint, cinnamon, dried lemon peel, dried tea leaves, and honey dominate the nose, while the palate further reveals star anise, lemon extract, a touch of vanilla, and cloves. Marseille uses raw honey as a sweetener, and similar to something like Amaro dell'Erborista by Varnelli, it gives it a wonderful, soft and lush texture. Perfect as an after dinner digestif. Oskar Kostecki
The Forthave Red Aperitivo is a base of sugar cane distillate infused with 13 botanicals, and contains no artificial coloring.It has a beautiful deep ruby hue, and explodes on the nose with notes of orange, plums, chamomile, rose, grapefruit rind, cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron. The palate is viscous with a pleasant bitterness and balanced sweetness. Enjoy on the rocks with a dash of soda water, or in your favorite classic coktails. Makes a delicious Negroni. Oskar Kostecki
This is the newest addition to the Forthave lineup, one of our favorite Brooklyn distilleries in collaboration with Cafe Integral. The "Brown" is an incredibly tasty coffee liqueur made from a single origin Pacamará coffee beans from Northern Nicaragua and raw turbinado sugar. Like all of their spirits, these guys are serious about the ingredients they use and never add anything artificial. The coffee beans are roasted, go through carbonic maceration to bring out those bright, fruity notes, and then cold brewed. This will make the most perfect espresso martini, but also, you're going to want to just drink it straight. Michelle DeWyngaert
Frederico __ of Fred Jerbis is devoted to showcasing the Fruiulian terroir (Jerbis being the word for herbs in this Italian dialect) through freshly foraged and organically grown herbs and botanicals from the region. He considers himself an alchemist, spending much of his time experimenting with distillation and steeping techniques to get perfect flavor extracted from every ingredient. His Fernet 25 comes form a single chestnut barrel made without dyes/colorings and very little sugar. Twenty-five different Italian botanicals are used including mint, saffron, chamomile, licorice, savory, orange, rhubarb and of course, gentian. The nose is super fresh, a burst of spearmint and tarragon, followed by toasty chestnut and nutmeg imparted by the barrel aging. The palate is well balanced and rich without being too viscous, and a nice burst of citrus from the orange peel keeps it lifted. Michelle DeWyngaert
Historically, amari were made as a way to make full use of the harvest by macerating leftover herbs, botanicals, and fruits in distilled spirits. This of course means everything was grown locally, resulting in a myriad of different styles depending on where you were and what crops were planted. And while there are other American amari on the market today, it’s hard to think of one that truly capitalizes on its bountiful, regional raw ingredients. Most are based on traditional Italian – or even Scandinavian – recipes, which are delicious, but rely on herbs and botanicals that may or may not be native to where they are made. Enter High Wire’s Southern Amaro. Using a base of neutral corn spirit, they macerate Yaupon Holly (America’s only native caffeinated plant) and gentian root, along with wild mint, local Dancy tangerine, and Charleston Black Tea (the only colorant used), among other botanicals. It is then sweetened with neutral cane syrup which they make themselves from local sugarcane. It is wild and intriguing on the nose with brown sugar, sweet spice, and zesty citrus balanced by deeper aromas of black tea leaves, pine resin, smoke, and hints of brine and celery. The palate is quite lifted and herb-forward with a balanced sweetness, and it is here that the tangerine and mint really shine along with a touch of black cherry. Reach for this after a fantastic meal! Tim Gagnon
A delicious vermouth with a base of select white wines from the Southwestern France, Pineau des Charentes Blanc, and 27 different botanicals. A beautiful golden color, it is heady, floral, and intensely aromatic with underlying currents of licorice and anise. It is incredibly dry, but maintains a balance on the palate and it is here that its Pineau des Charentes roots show. This is perfect for sipping or in a more adventurous Martini. Tim Gagnon
La Quintinye is one of our favorite vermouth producers! Made in Charentes, France, these vermouths are distinct in their use of Pineau des Charentes as their fortifyer and their unique blend of plants and spices such as cinchona (the same bittering agent used in Tonic) which really comes through on the nose. The base for the rouge is a blend of Ugni Blanc and Chardonnay with a Merlot based Pineau des Charents.
Elisa Carta is breathing new life into the herbs and botanicals of Lake Garda in the Veneto using ancient recipes passed down through several generations. It wasn't until recently that young people like Elisa have returned to the region to replant local fields, farming organically and harvesting by hand. The 'Artiginale Bitter' is made without chemicals, artificial coloring, or heavy filtration, and unlike other aperitivo bitters has a more amber color. I consider this a warmer, more spice driven aperitivo that still works wonderfully in the classics like negroni, spritz, or boulevardier (where it really compliments the caramel, baking spice notes of Bourbon). Botanicals include olive and lemon tree leaves, linden and acacia flowers, wild rose berries, sweet and bitter orange, absinthe, gentian and ginger. Michelle DeWyngaert
This is an entirely hand-crafted, locally made dry Vermouth from Will Clark of Little City. What started out as a hobby in his living room has grown into a full-fledged operation supplying bars, restaurants, and retail stores. The base wine for these aromatized, fortified spirits is actually made from 100% Cayuga White, a hybrid grape designed for the cold winters of the Finger Lakes, which is then blended with 38 macerated grasses, botanicals, barks, and berries. Notes of almond and chamomile on the nose with yellow apple, with a more savory palate of dried herbs, dried chamomile, and celery salt on the finish. I love how flavorful and a little vegetal this blend is, making it truly worthy of a wet martini (the best way to drink a martini, in my humble opinion). Michelle DeWyngaert
Created in Harlem and bottled by Finger Lakes Distilling, this is a great Sweet Vermouth that straddles feeling classic and modern. The base of both the sweet and dry Little City's is the hearty Cayuga White, a hybrid grape found in the Finger Lakes which lends these Vermouth's a brighter acidity. The Sweet Vermouth is blended with 53 botanicals, many of them the usual suspects such as gentian, juniper, cinnamon, and orange peel, but with a few more interesting additions like black sesame, black walnut leaf, and grapefruit peel. In order to keep the integrity of these flavors, heat is never used, only maceration until it reaches the perfect balance. Michelle DeWyngaert
One of the oldest and most famous French aperitifs; a gentiane-based liqueur with a slightly sweet and earthy character. No artificial colors or preservatives are added. Great on the rocks or with soda, or use it in a white negroni or to add depth to a clear-spirited cocktail.
Named after the impressive mountain range in the Southwestern corner of the Marche, this spirit is a must-try for Amaro fans. The flavor profile definitely leans toward the drier, more herbaceous end of the spectrum and will seem quite bitter if you are used to Averna or Montenegro. The botanicals are wood smoked before maceration which adds a degree of complexity seldom found in Amari. Mountain honey is used sparingly to balance the bitter flavors. I have found Sibillia to be a delicious digestive, but also quite delightful at the shore when mixed with tonic and an orange rind. JR
This is the most powerful Amaro I have ever tried. To drink it is to experience a brisk and bracing shock of mountain roots and herbs. The flavors are intense enough to make one’s whole mouth tingle, and the experience lasts for several minutes. As a warning, it must be said that this tonic is brutally dry, rich, and smoky. One could tackle a glass neat after dinner, or a splash could go a long way in creating unique cocktails. This tonic is made with botanicals that are smoked prior to maceration, and mountain honey is used (extremely sparingly) as a sweetener. For the adventurous there is nothing else quite like it! JR