Christmas is approaching, which means lots of great family time ahead, and probably lots of occasions to say, “I could really use a drink.” Here are a few new and unusual spirits –and cocktail recipes—to help you out.

Anguish & Regret

I don’t feel particularly anguished or regretful after drinking this newest offering from craft producer Few Spirits, though it is fairly bitter. Inspired by Jeppson’s Malört, a Chicago favorite that is itself inspired by a traditional Swedish spirit flavored with wormwood, Anguish & Regret is infused with Ras-al-Hanout, a Moroccan blend of ginger, peppercorns, cinnamon and other spices. The warming spicy flavors makes it great for fall. Try it in the House Martini created by Hastings Cameron & Ed Hong of Gib’s in Madison, WI:

House-Martini

Try it in a House Martini:

  • 1 1/4 oz. Tapatio Blanco 110-proof Tequila
  • 3/4 oz. Few Anguish & Regret
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • 1 pinch Salt

Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass, fill with large ice cubes and stir for 18-24 seconds. Strain into a chilled Nick & Nora or Martini glass. Twist a slice of grapefruit peel over the surface of the drink to express the oils, then trim into a rectangular shape, puncture the center with the tip of a paring knife and insert the stem of a lavender sprig so it sits upright, and use as garnish.

Corbin Cash Barrel Reserve Sweet Potato Liqueur

Yup, you read that right: Sweet Potato Liqueur.  It’s what happens when a sweet potato farmer decides he wants to make whiskey but can’t (because legally whiskey has to be distilled from grain), so he mixes it with brown sugar and pumpkin-pie spices. It smells–and tastes–a lot like liquid pumpkin pie and I pretty much want to slather the entire Thanksgiving table with it. The best part is the subtle sweetness, like sweet cinnamon, far from the sickly, cloying sugar of other flavored spirits. Try it in the Sweet Potato Flip, which could easily replace any solid dessert:

Sweet-Potato-Flip

Try it in a Sweet Potato Flip

  • 2 oz Corbin Cash Sweet Potato Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
  • 1/2 oz Maple Syrup
  • 1 Egg

Preparation: combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker without ice.  Shake.  Add ice and shake well again. Strain into chilled 9oz Old Fashioned glass. Top with freshly grated nutmeg and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Hudson Whiskey Maple Cask Rye

Hudson Whiskey is one of my all time favorite whiskies ever since I visited their distillery in upstate New York.  For fall, they’ve released a limited edition Maple Cask Rye, made by aging rye whiskey in barrels that are used first for bourbon, then for maple syrup.  The rye rests for 4 months in the ex-bourbon-syrup barrels, taking on a subtle maple sweetness contrasted against the spicy rye.

Hudson_Maple_Rye

Try it in a Maple Old Fashioned:

  • 2 oz Hudson Maple Cask Rye
  • 1/2 teaspoon good-quality maple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes (to taste) aromatic bitters
  • Apple slice & cinnamon stick for garnish

To a rocks glass, add maple syrup and bitters, then ice and Maple Cask Rye. Stir until well-chilled and garnish with a couple of thin slices of freshly-sliced apple and a cinnamon stick.

Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy Rum

If you’re looking for an escape from the cold, this is the spirit for you. It’s made from Queen Victoria pineapples whose rinds and flesh are macerated with light and dark Trinidad rum, then aged a further 3 months to marry the flavors.  The result is decadent, rich and oh-so-delicious.  It’s a grown up pineapple rum that you can feel great about drinking. Mix it into a traditional Daiquiri, or make this variation of another one of my winter favorites, the Vieux Carre:

CAP_Carre_GabiPorter

Try it in The C.A.P. Carré

By Brittany Chadbourne, New York

  • 1 1/2 oz. Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy Rum
  • 1/2 oz. Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
  • 1/2 oz. Amaro Montenegro
  • 1 tsp Benedictine
  • Dash Angostura Bitters
  • Dash Peychauds Bitters

Combine all ingredients except for Benedictine over ice and stir. Rinse rocks glass with Benedictine. Add ice. Strain into glass. Garnish with lemon twist.