A few years ago, we discovered that a number of top mixologists were helping to start spirits companies. That trend has only gotten larger, so we decided to explore even more bartender bottlings on store shelves now. Here are seven brands you should get to know this summer.
Chicago bartender Adam Seger is not only trying to create a new brand but also a whole new category with Hum ($36). The base is rum produced in a pot still, which is then infused with hibiscus, ginger, cardamom and kaffir lime. Thankfully, Seger has come up with a range of cocktails to showcase the liqueur, which you can find on Hum’s website.
If you haven’t noticed, people have become pretty serious about vermouth lately. There’s a huge selection of European bottlings, as well as some new domestic ones, including Imbue from Portland, Ore., which was co-founded by talented mixologist Neil Kopplin, a former president of the Oregon Bartenders Guild. The label makes a Bittersweet Vermouth ($27) and an aperitif called Petal & Thorn ($27).
When you have the name Ilegal, you better have a good back story. Fortunately, this brand does. John Rexer used to smuggle mezcal from Mexico to Guatemala for his bar Café No Sé. In 2009, he went legit and now sells three types of mezcal: a joven ($47), a reposado ($57) and an añejo ($99).
All-star barman and Liquor.com advisory board member Allen Katz co-founded the New York Distilling Company in Brooklyn. Its first two products are the floral Dorothy Parker Gin ($29) and the potent, navy-strength Perry’s Tot Gin ($30). Look out for its rye whiskey, which is currently aging in barrels.
One of the companies we’re most excited about is The 86 Co. It was co-founded by Simon Ford, Plymouth Gin’s former ambassador and a Liquor.com advisor, and Dushan Zaric, co-owner of New York hotspots Employees Only and Macao Trading Co. and another of our advisors. They launched their Caña Brava Rum ($35 for 1 L), Aylesbury Duck Vodka ($30 for 1 L), Fords Gin ($35 for 1 L) and Cabeza Tequila ($40 for 1 L) last September. The products are rolling out across the US now.
Award-winning barman Charles Joly just announced his latest project, Crafthouse Cocktails. Starting in a few weeks, the brand will begin selling a bottled Paloma, Moscow Mule and South Side made from all-natural ingredients.
Talk about history: Upstate New York’s Dutch’s Spirits is named after infamous mobster Dutch Schultz, and its facility is built on the site of Schultz’s secret underground distillery, which operated during Prohibition. Ethan Kelley, who for years worked as the spirit sommelier at TriBeCa’s famed Brandy Library, is helping to launch this brand. Currently, the brand makes a Sugar Wash Moonshine ($30) and a Peach Brandy ($45), along with a Colonial Cocktail Bitters ($TK) flavored with native New England botanicals popular in the 18th century.