We’ve sipped tequila in a Mexican agave field, drank cocktails inside the Arctic Circle and sampled Scotch straight from a cask. Suffice it to say we’re pretty advanced drinkers, so it takes a truly...um...interesting spirit to take us by surprise.
But we have to admit that we were very intrigued by these seven extremely unusual bottlings. So much so, we needed to know more about them and taste them.
Without further ado, here’s our list of seven genuinely odd spirits. Best of all? They’re all available in the US. Bottoms up if you dare!
The secret to many fine Bloody Marys is a bit of Old Bay Seasoning. (It’s also a key element in Maryland’s signature steamed crabs.) Now you can save a step by using The Bay Seasoned Vodka in your Mary, which is flavored with non-copyright-infringing “traditional Chesapeake Bay seasoning.” It’s unlike any vodka we’ve ever tasted, with a heavy consistency and plenty of spice.
Sure, there are all kinds of funky vodkas (check out our slideshow of 17 of the craziest ones), but Vermont White is so unique, it’s practically in a separate category. The alcohol is made from pure milk sugar (AKA lactose) in small batches. The real kicker? The final product is lactose-free.
One of the most beloved spirits among bartenders is the Italian Cynar, which dates back to 1952 and is intensely herbal and bitter. The secret to its recipe is a secret mix of 13 herbs and plants. Chief among them? Artichoke. (Aside from the artichoke, it doesn’t taste all that different from Campari, which actually bought the brand in 1995.) Enjoy it with a splash of club soda in a classic Spritz or try it in the complex and refreshing gin-based Montford Spritz.
Love Thanksgiving stuffing? Then you may enjoy this sage-, thyme-, rosemary- and fennel-flavored “colonial garden gin” from Philadelphia’s unusually named Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. The liquor was inspired by the United States’ first seed list, created by horticulturist (and Thomas Jefferson’s gardening mentor) Bernard McMahon. Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction also makes Root, which is infused with root-beer spices including birch bark and anise, and Snap, a spirit inspired by the original Pennsylvania Dutch ginger snap cookie.
You hear all kinds of things about mezcal, but fortunately most of the myths are false. (No, it shouldn’t come with a worm at the bottom of the bottle.) However, the extremely rare (and expensive, at $200 a bottle) Del Maguey Pechuga, from the tiny village of Santa Catarina Minas in Mexico, goes through perhaps the most unique production process we’ve ever heard of. It’s distilled twice, and then fruits like plantains, pineapples and wild plums are added to the liquid in the small clay still. Next, a whole raw chicken breast (pechuga in Spanish) is suspended inside the still, and the sprit is distilled a third time. Don’t worry; it's completely safe to drink.
We’ve seen all kinds of odd ingredient combinations, but this one is perhaps the oddest: alcohol and yogurt. Yes, you read that correctly. In April, the Dutch brand Bols, known for its fine genever, introduced a Natural Yoghurt Liqueur. It’s a creamy drink that tastes sour and sweet—just like the all-natural yogurt it’s made from. The bottle even has a special coating that supposedly keeps the contents fresh without refrigeration. We had trouble figuring out exactly how to serve this creamy concoction, but we imagine it would work well in a boozy milkshake.
Forgive us for droning on about this special gin whose base is made from fermented orange-blossom honey that is distilled just once. The alcohol is then distilled again with nine different botanicals including juniper, lavender and fresh citrus. It makes a delicious and summery Tom Collins and Gin & Tonic. (If you like Comb 9, the distillery also makes a vodka, an oak-aged brandy and a rum-like spirit from the same type of honey.)
Mixing your cocktail