It’s always been a thrill for me to “discover” a new drink that blows my mind. Especially when it’s in a category that isn’t already super saturated with choices. So, I have a couple of new obsessions I’m giddy over:

Don Ciccio & Figli Finocchietto – Francesco Amodeo (who grew up on the Amalfi Coast of Italy but makes his liqueurs in Washington, DC) makes an entire line of traditional liqueurs. His family made these same liqueurs for well over 100 years and he has the old recipe book (which he couldn’t get until the family considered him serious enough). I’m specifically crazy about the Finocchietto, neutral spirits infused with hand-picked wild fennel, fennel seeds, aniseeds, and dill with just enough sugar to raise the viscosity. It has an amazing fennel flavor, closer to the grassy fresh bulbs than the more licorice-like seeds. But fans of anything on the anise scale should love this.

Lost Spirits Distillery Navy Strength Rum – Bryan Alexander Davis and Joanne Haruta made some spectacular tiny run whiskeys until a mishap caused them to bulldoze their outdoor still and start over from scratch. Now their focus is rum and this one is a stunner. 68% alcohol by volume and hugely flavorful, but so tasty you can (almost) sip it straight. He takes a page out of ancient rum distilling and uses dunder to start fermentation which creates serious esters that add unusual depth of flavor. I’ll sip mine on the rocks but it’s a fantastic option for any cocktail calling for dark rum.

Yes, I’m selling them at Mouth, but this isn’t a sales pitch. It’s a nod to a couple of the inspiring new spirits that are suddenly propagating all over the country. Getting to be among the first in New York to taste spirits like these makes me realize how lucky I am to do what I do.

Dave Herman is a Certified Specialist of Spirits with close to two decades of experience in the food and beverage industry. His classes and tastings have been featured at The Institute of Culinary Education and 92nd Street Y. He has been a key contributor in bars, restaurants, retail, importers, distributors, events & worked every position from bartender to sales, & from management to ownership.

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