What could be more alluring than a glass of whiskey on the rocks or an arctic cold martini in a Y-shaped glass adorned with several pimento-filled green olives?
Although I love an ice cold martini and certainly a glass of whiskey with ice, a glass of brandy on a cold winter day certainly is a great body heat rejuvenator. Smelling its rich, fiery, heavily perfumed bouquet and its smooth, velvet-like texture and luxurious aftertaste beckons a second glass.
“Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we’ll be seeing six or seven.” — W. C. Fields, 1880–1946, American comic and actor
To make this holiday season really festive, I’ve included a list of some of my favorite spirits (that will hopefully become yours).
Laird’s Applejack, made in Scobeyville, New Jersey, since 1780. It is an apple brandy, dry and full of rich apple flavors. I like it either in a brandy snifter or sometimes on the rocks while listening to relaxing music.
Auchentoshan “Three-Wood” Single-Malt Scotch Whiskey from the Lowlands. It has been aged in three different wood types: Bourbon, Spanish Oloroso Sherry, and finally Pedro Ximénez sherry barrels. Spectacular flavor.
Black & White Blended Scotch Whisky. On its label there is a black Scottish terrier “Scottie” and a white West Highland dog “Westie.” I have been enjoying this Scotch for decades.
Campari from Italy. Campari, which is bright red, has a bouquet and taste of bitter orange, cherry, ginger, lemon, licorice, orange zest and strawberry, with a bittersweet aftertaste.
Drambuie Liqueur from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. It was first produced in 1745, from a blend of Scotch whisky and heather honey-based liqueur. Its classic cocktail, called a Rusty Nail, consists of equal parts of Drambuie and Blended Scotch Whisky.
Zubrówka Vodka from Poland and other Slavic countries. It has a yellow-green tinge and a distinctive smell and taste of spring flowers, thyme, lavender and freshly mown grass, which is derived from various botanicals that have been added.
Chartreuse “Green” Liqueur. This world-famous liqueur was originally formulated in 1605, in Grenoble, France, by St. Bruno. Licorice and flower aromas, with sweet herbal notes. Sweet middle and finish, with flavors of herbs, licorice, white pepper and burnt flowers. Very elegant and well made.
Baker’s 7-year-old Bourbon. Baker’s Bourbon is 107 proof and is very aromatic with a sweet, smooth, medium finish. It has a warm amber, tawny, nut-brown color with a bouquet of fruit, caramel and vanilla. It tastes of toasted nuts, fruit and sugar-vanilla, with a silky texture. The aftertaste is warming and sweet, with a medium-long aftertaste.
Hine Antique XO Cognac. Created in 1920 by George Hine. The taste is mellow and supple with a wealth of sustained flavors, floral nuances, hints of honey, leather and a pronounced taste of vanilla, carried by finesse and endurance. Velvety smooth and extremely elegant.
Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or [email protected]