Kronan Swedish Punsch
PROVENANCE: Sweden (26% abv)
AVAILABLE AT: Randall’s, multiple locations, shoprandalls.com; $25.99
TRY IT: On the rocks with a healthy squeeze of lime
Swedish punsch, the Scandinavian sugarcane-based spirit, has made a return to the liquor shelves. Punsch has not seen life in the States for some time, but thanks to Eric Seed, owner of importer Haus Alpenz, and his partnership with Swedish oenologist Henrik Facile, this arcane spirit has been reborn. To experience it in the true Swedish way, sip it warm with a bowl of pea soup.
PROVENANCE: Sweden (40% abv)
AVAILABLE AT: The Wine Merchant, 20 S. Hanley Road, Clayton, winemerchantltd.com; $23.99
TRY IT: Chilled or on the rocks with a splash of soda
Absolut created the flavored vodka market, and it continues to push the envelope. Unlike its competitors, Absolut produces products that are not filled with added sugars and artificial flavors. Grapevine is actually flavored with dragon fruit, papaya and grapes, but the end result is a product that eerily has the nose of a California Chardonnay. It's the first grape-flavored vodka I’ve encountered that truly tastes as though it was flavored with grapes as opposed to grape-flavored candy.
Averell Damson Gin Liqueur
PROVENANCE: New York (33% abv)
AVAILABLE AT: The Wine & Cheese Place, multiple locations, wineandcheeseplace.com; $24.99
TRY IT: With a few ice cubes and a splash of soda
Plum-flavored gins are nothing new. Sloe gin was a staple of bars at the turn of the 20th century. The link here is that the damson is a variety of the plum family, and the sloe berry is a relative. Damson is a small, crimson plum with an intense spiciness and tartness, which lends itself well to this application. Averell barrel-presses damson plums during the New York harvest and blends the resulting juice with a small-batch gin. The result is a slightly sweet, spicy and tart gin that is great for both mixing and sipping neat.
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.