Here are 10 new (or newly available to most of the U.S.) spirits to watch out for this year. Some are great in cocktails; others are so unique and rarefied that they’re best served unadorned.
The intense herbal and clean anise flavors of this popular Swiss brand make it one of the best of the old-world absinthes now legally imported into the U.S. ($50).
Drink it: In a Le Demon Vert.
Wild Turkey American Spirit Bourbon
Bluecoat American Dry Gin
Flavored with organic juniper berries and American lemon and orange peels, this small-batch gin from a Philadelphia microdistillery is smooth, with fresh citrus flavors and a peppery finish ($30; bluecoatgin.com).
Drink it: In an Aviator.
Richard Betts, the sommelier at The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, created this citrusy, small-batch mezcal (distilled from organic agave nectar), which he says is less smoky than its other agave-based cousins. Look for it in early 2008 ($49; bettsandscholl.com).
Drink it: In a Melon Mezcalito.
Clément Cuvée Homère
A blend of the distillery’s best barrels of the past 15 vintages, this high-end Martinique rum (one of the only rums granted AOC status) is a highly nuanced blend of fruit, pepper and oak flavors ($90; rhumclement.net).
Drink it: Neat or on the rocks.
Plymouth Sloe Gin
Coming to the U.S. next spring, this gin is infused with just-picked sloe berries (a cousin of the plum), giving it a vibrant red color and bittersweet flavor with a hint of almond (plymouthgin.com).
Drink it: In The Millionaire.
Jose Cuervo Platino Tequila
Partida Elegante Tequila
This “extra-añejo” (read: superpremium and superexpensive) tequila is aged in American oak for three years, which imparts smoky aromas and a rich, sweet mouthfeel ($350; partidatequila.com).
Drink it: In a Cutting Edge Margarita.