Provenance: Sicily, Italy (32% abv)
Available at: Randall’s Wines & Spirits, multiple locations, shoprandalls.com; $29.99
Try it: As a substitute for vermouth in your favorite Manhattan recipe
Averna, like Cynar, is becoming a more prominent staple in bars, and rightfully so. This slightly sweet and viscous liqueur has a heavily spicy and citrusy nose. In the mouth, the bitterness takes over quickly, with just the slightest hint of anise. It’s surprising we’re just now noticing the wonderful world of Italian bittersweet digestifs, and Averna Amaro is a perfect example of just how gorgeous the amaro segment can be.
Provenance: Italy (16.5% abv)
Available at: Friar Tuck, multiple locations, friartuckonline.com; $24.99
Try it: As a substitute for Campari in your favorite cocktail
Not new to the market, but dear to my heart, this artichoke-based digestif is becoming more popular on back bars around town. Don’t let the large artichoke on the label scare you off; artichoke is not one of the prominent flavors in this complex bitter. It starts with a touch of sweetness and an almost creamy texture. The bitterness, akin to quinine, takes over quickly and holds on tight through the finish with a touch of cinnamon and allspice. The low alcohol content makes this a great addition to soda water for an after-dinner stomach settler as well.
Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey
Provenance: Gardiner, N.Y. (46% abv)
Available at: The Wine & Cheese Place, multiple locations, wineandcheeseplace.com; $37.99 (375-ml bottle)
Try it: Neat, please
Tuthilltown Spirits' aged and unaged whiskeys are must-haves for serious whiskey drinkers. New York state was known for rye whiskey production before Prohibition, but this is the first rye produced in the state in more than 80 years. This bottling is made with 100 percent locally sourced rye grains, and the water used in the fermentation and distillation processes comes from local reservoirs. This whiskey is slightly sweet with vanilla, spicy with almonds and cinnamon, and a little toasty and bitter on the finish.
Award-winning sommelier and mixologist Chad Michael George is founder of Proof Academy, which covers everything from wine and cocktail list consulting to spirits and mixology education.