7 Great Holiday Spirits
A surge in craft distilling means it's easier than ever to stock a bar (or knock out a gift list) with local spirits. We dig these guys for their flavors and stories as well as their handsome looks—but who knows? Your next cocktail crush might be waiting at a distillery near you.
1. Watershed Old Fashioned This bottled cocktail hails from Columbus, Ohio, and features bourbon, raw sugar, local cherry juice and bitters. For those nights when getting out the glass is work enough. $35 (watersheddistillery.com).
2. Death's Door Wondermint Schnapps Artisan peppermint schnapps sounds like an ironic joke, but this Wisconsin blend is legit, with secondary notes of rosewater and bitter almond. Hot cocoa, prepare to be spiked. $25 (deathsdoorspirits.com)
3. Long Road Original Aquavit Scandinavian-style aquavit is aromatic and botanical, a bit like gin but with dill and caraway. Try this award-winner from Grand Rapids, Michigan, chilled and neat, or mixed in a bloody mary or gimlet. $35 (longroaddistillers.com).
4. Koval Barreled Gin Imagine a whiskey-gin hybrid, redolent with aged oak and juniper. And that laser-cut argyle label! This is a truly giftable spirit from Chicago's first modern-era distillery. $49 (kovaldistillery.com).
5. Tattersall Freewheeler Pommeau Pommeau is a blend of unfermented cider and brandy-adult apple juice with a French accent. A collaboration with nearby Sociable CiderWerks, this Minneapolis version is fruity, not cloying. $25 (tattersalldistilling.com).
6. Big O Ginger Liqueuer Created by a St. Louis couple using local brandy, this fragrant, nicely spicy spirit is a must-buy for ginger lovers. The website lists tons of cocktail ideas. (Hint: Big O plays well with citrus and rum.) $34 (drinkthebigo.com)
7. Beet Spirits Bēt Vodka Not potatoes. Not wheat. Minnesota-grown sugar beets form the ingeniously local base of this subtly sweet, smooth vodka, whose chic bottle belies its earthy origins. $35 (betvodka.com).
Two Cocktails to Try
Long Road Aquavit Gimlet In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces aquavit, 1 ounce fresh lime juice and 1 ounce simple syrup. Shake vigorously to chill. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lime slice.
Bēt Vodka Sparkler In an ice-filled shaker, combine 1 ounce vodka, 1⁄2 ounce fresh lemon juice, 1⁄3 ounce simple syrup and 1⁄4 ounce crème de cassis. Shake vigorously to chill. Strain into a tall, ice-filled glass. Top with dry sparkling wine, and garnish liberally with fresh raspberries.