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Best Spirits You've Never Heard Of

Napa’s Other Export

Courtesy of Monteverdi Spirits

Nocino della Cristina

What It Is: It may seem inappropriate to feature a fall-flavored spirit just when the weather is getting warm, but green walnuts, the base of all nocino, are traditionally picked on the feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24). So it’s only right to enjoy the fruits of last year’s labor in celebration of this year’s harvest. Though nocino originally came from northern Italy, Monteverdi’s Nocino della Cristina is produced in Napa Valley. To make nocino, distillers steep green walnuts in grape brandy, then sweeten and spice the mix.

What It’s Like: Nocino della Cristina smells like roasted plums and gingersnaps and tastes like a nutty cup of sweet, spiced coffee. There is a hint of bitterness and a very mixologist-friendly touch of acidity to it as well.

How to Drink It: During the colder months, Monteverdi’s nocino can be sipped straight as a digestif. But right now it’s probably more appealing in cocktails like Negronis or Manhattans, in which it can be used as a substitute for sweet vermouth.

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