Mixologists are using more and more esoteric spirits in their drinks, but these five choices are still the backbone of a great cocktail list.

October 17, 2011

Gin | Vodka | Tequila | Rum | Whiskey

© Tina Rupp

Gin

© Tina Rupp

Vodka

© Tina Rupp

Tequila

Añejo ("aged") tequila ages for up to three years.
Extra añejo tequila ages for a minimum of three years.
Mezcal, also agave-based, is smokier than tequila. Artisanally produced versions from Oaxaca are becoming more popular.

© Tina Rupp

Whiskey

© Tina Rupp

Rum

Amber, or gold, rums usually age in oak barrels.
Dark rums, especially Jamaican ones, tend to be rich and flavorful.
Rhum agricole is made in the French West Indies from fresh pressed sugarcane juice (not syrup or molasses).