When rolling out your New Year’s resolutions, get past the usual suspects. Sure, losing a few pounds or deciding to read more Dickens is an honorable idea. But a resolution you may actually keep is trying more intriguing spirits and liqueurs, especially if you begin with these five:
Borghetti Coffee Liqueur
An institution in Italy, found in bottles big and small in nearly every café, Borghetti is the finest coffee liqueur by leaps and boozy bounds. Made by the Branca Distillery (which also makes Carpano Antica, Punt e’ Mes, Fernet Branca, and others), this liqueur is constructed solely from coffee beans roasted in house, a neutral base spirit, and a natural sweetener. The result is the perfect drink for Seattleites, with an amazing espresso flavor underlined with a gentle kick and kiss. It’s only recently become available in the U.S., and is slowly showing up in more stores.
A very recent release, Rocket vodka is currently only available at Vashon Island’s Seattle Distilling Company where it’s made and at local Vashon liquor stores. But it’s worth the trip if you don’t want to wait for distribution increases, which are happening as I type this. Super smooth, full of subtle grain and spice flavors (it’s made using wheat grown in the Palouse), and with a hint of sweetness and light on the back end, this vodka goes perfectly by itself over ice but also brings its personality nicely into cocktails.
Speyburn Single Malt Scotch
Sometimes single malt Scotches get a reputation as unapproachable. Speyburn 10-year-old single malt can help dispel this fable; it’s ideal for both single malt mavens and nervous Scotch newbies, with a light-bodied amiability highlighted by vanilla, oak, apricot, and spice. The key is water from the Granty Burn, a River Spey tributary known for its pureness and good salmon. Speyburn is a wonderful choice for Washingtonians who might just take a bottle with them to have a glass from after a day of fishing or hiking (or working in an office, even).
This anisette will have you dreaming of Italy as you slowly sip it by itself or in cocktails like the Baltimore Bracer (brandy, anisette, and an egg white – learn to make it with this cocktail video). Crafted since the 1870s by the Meletti family in Ascoli Piceno, a small city in Italy’s Le Marche region, this lovely liqueur is made from aniseed (Pimpinella Anisum) delicately raised in the clay soil around the city. It has a bright, resonant, and layered—but never cloying—taste, and is also newly available here in our state.
Feeling the winter blues? This blood orange liqueur, accented with cinnamon and cloves, is thick with subtle citrus and spice notes and a treat when the mercury’s been plunging. It’s dandy by itself or shaken into a chilled cocktail, but this time of year I suggest doing it up hot drink-style. A simple, but simply great, combo is 1-1/2 ounces of this stirred into a steaming glass of orange pekoe tea with a lemon slice.