Jacopo Poli Grappa di Sassicaia
Sassicaia, an Italian wine made with Cabernet grapes, is so unusual they had to invent a new termSuper-Tuscanto describe it. Before it's aged, the grape skins are filtered out and pressed, and their juices are distilled into a spirit that's pretty unusual in its own right. Grappa di Sassicaia has a pale gold color (from hanging around in French oak for four years) and a mesmerizing aroma (pears, honey, raisins, butterscotch and...is that parsley?). The lush cooked-fruit flavors are offset by a slight herbal bitterness, and the finish is warm and soothing ($61).
Who knew we'd have this oddball category two years in a row? But the fin de siècle nostalgia that last year brought us Absente now gives us Versinthe, a nimble absinthe substitute in which the illegal wormwood has been supplanted by two kinds of mugwort, a near relative. A host of other botanicalsanise, and maybe tarragon, peppermint, and chamomilemake a taste startlingly fresh. Add water and the pale gold hue changes into the milky green that Degas and Verlaine so admired ($30).
Hacienda del Cristero
Even in Mexico, blanco tequilas aren't taken too seriously. (Here, of course, they're dumped by the gallon into margarita machines.) But this premium clear tequila made by Herradura is changing that. Stop a minute to consider what you're drinking, and you'll notice all sorts of things. Your nose might pick up pineapple, lime and celery, while your tongue will puzzle its way from pear and plum to sweet caramelized onion and wood-roasted garlic. No kidding. Hacienda del Cristero isn't for beginners, but adventurous drinkers may want to start having a glass with dinner ($50).