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March 2008


WINE & SPIRITS

Change is Good
By Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave

MIX IT UP A BIT WITH THE LATEST IN POTENT POTABLES

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Drinkers of spirits break down into two camps: loyalists and experimentalists. Loyalists embrace a single brand, a drink that comes to define them. At their favorite watering hole, they'll order the usual, and the bartender will instantly know to send over a Grey Goose and soda, for example, or a Maker's Mark on the rocks. Experimentalists, on the other hand, are forever on to something new, eager to try whatever the bartender happens to be shaking and stirring. They see their boozing bacchanals—like their restaurant explorations—as educational journeys. For these fearless sippers, I offer the following roundup of the best new spirits on the market:

Canton, a new Cognac infused with Vietnamese baby ginger, ginseng and vanilla, is among the most exciting discoveries I've made recently. I sat down with John Cooper to sample an array of Canton-based cocktails that he crafted to pair with Thai-French cuisine. The spirit, which lends an Asian note to any mixed drink, works particularly well in a classic Hendrick's gin martini. Bottled invention runs in the Cooper family. His grandfather created Creme Yvette, a violet liqueur popular in the 1930s and '40s. His father later brought the world Chambord, the black raspberry sensation. And last year his older brother came out with St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur that overnight became the darling of the mixology world.

While there's much to be said for the nuance of Canton and St. Germain, neither is likely to knock vodka from its perch as the most consumed spirit in America.

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