You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state.
“The Camus family has been making cognacs for generations, blended perfectly with generations of knowledge being passed down. The Borderies is the smallest area of Cognac and thus the most difficult to find cognacs made from. Rare, old, robust, floral and happiness are how I describe this cognac.”—Zachary Helton, bartender at Cork & Cow in Franklin, Tenn.
“Ugni blanc and folle blanche grapes provide an austere backbone but tempered by notes of pineapple and plantains. This is impressive for its young age.”—Karen Fu, bartender at Republique in Los Angeles
“Grape brandy that has been lightly infused with dill. It’s clean, balanced, refreshing and light.”—Strohm
“De-stemmed pinot noir pomace aged for a minimum of seven years in a mobile alembic still then left to rest in French oak barrels makes for a sublime unique spirit—yellow flowers, honey and chamomile, offset by earthy musk.”—Fu
“Sherry is my (and so many other bartenders’) favorite thing in the world, so who knows more about how to make amazing distillate from grapes than the legendary region of Jerez? It’s amazing in cocktails and fantastic after dinner and as a substitute for other aged spirits in Manhattans or Old Fashioneds. The price point compared to the quality of this spirit should lend itself to backbars and cocktail menus everywhere.”—Nathaniel Smith, creative director of bar and drinks at Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Minneapolis
“Musky and vibrant, this brandy takes you by surprise. If you ever thought brandy wasn’t refreshing, take a swig of this.”—David
“I tasted and loved this brandy way before I ever realized this is a passion project of director Steven Sodebergh, who tasted and loved this spirit and made it a point to make sure Americans eventually could taste and love this spirit too. Try it and you'll agree with the passion to make that kind of effort.”—Smith