Allegedly this is the most popular herbal drink in Austria. Decide for yourself when you taste it solo, or in A.J. Rathbun's recipe for a drink called the Prairie High (see below).
Recently, I posted a piece about the expanding selection in big and little Washington State liquor stores. The selection is exciting, but sometimes it’s hard to know which bottle is worth buying. To help out a little, I've handpicked five spirits and liqueurs that are newly available (since the law changed) and that I think you'll want to try. If your local doesn’t currently carry them, make a request. Every liquor store owner I’ve talked to is up for ordering new items, and it’s the best way to make sure they carry what you like.
A liqueur very popular in Eastern Europe and Russia and now making a comeback in the U.S., kümmel is known for its caraway, cumin, and fennel flavor combo. Combier kümmel, made since 1850, has a bright and effortless flavor topped with anise notes. Try it in the Kingston Heights with this recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add 1-1/2 ounces rum, 3/4 ounce Combier kümmel, and 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice. Shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drizzle 1/2 ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram slowly into the drink.
Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon
The Willette family originally distilled brandy in France before they came over in the early 1600s. This history and experience is evident in their single-barrel bourbons, which have layers of flavor and deliciousness. I suggest having it straight or in a classic Manhattan. My recipe’s from Good Spirits and goes like this: Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway with cracked ice (or ice cubes). Add 2-1/2 ounces Willett Family Estate single barrel bourbon, 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth, and 2 dashes Angostura bitters. Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry (but not one that’s been sugar soaked).
Kronan Swedish Punsch
Swedish punsch is a liqueur built on the sugar-cane-based spirit Batavia Arrack. It was found in most bars in the early part of the last century until disappearing after Prohibition. But now (thankfully) it’s back. Kronan Swedish punsch has a rum-and-toffy taste with notes of smoke mingling around. Enjoy it in an Astor, utilizing the following recipe based on the one in the classic Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book by Albert Crockett: Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add 1-1/2 ounces gin, 1 ounce Kronan Swedish punsch, 1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1/4 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.
A reliable source tells me Rossbacher is the most popular herbal drink in Austria, and I believe it. Its bold and friendly herbal and spice nature mean that it could stand bottle-to-bottle with top Italian amaros. It’s good solo after dinner, or can be subbed in for Averna in the Prairie High (recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz): Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add 1-1/2 ounces rye, 1/2 ounce Rossbacher, and 1 dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters. Shake well. Fill a highball glass halfway with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice cubes and into the glass. Fill the glass nearly to the top with ginger ale. Stir briefly. Squeeze a lemon slice over the glass and drop it in.
Amrut Fusion Single Malt Scotch
Amrut Distilleries began in 1948 in India as the country was establishing its independence. Their scotches and rums have won many awards since then, though they haven’t been as readily available in the states as other places. Amrut’s Fusion Single Malt Scotch, which won Malt Advocate’s World Whiskey of the Year award, has an oaky aroma that flows into the big, peat-y, vanilla, and spice taste, with a finish that doesn’t lose the spice. It’s a memorable experience and one that runs on the expensive side. With an aspirational drink like this, I don’t suggest mixing it all—try it straight or with just a light splash of pure water and sip it slow as the sun goes down.