From craft beer to artisanal cheese, the American-made movement is delivering a huge variety of delicious food and drink. And now we’ve gathered 14 small-batch spirits that should make it onto your bar cart STAT. Each distillery featured has its own niche, a focus that comes through beautifully in their final products. As distinct as they may be, there’s at least one thing they all have in common: a dedication to producing high-quality bottles worth seeking out.
1. High West Distillery: Hailing from Park City, Utah, High West delivers an assortment of spirits perfect for aprés ski sipping. Give their unique Campfire ($54/750mL) whiskey a try; it’s a mix of Scotch, bourbon and rye whiskeys that’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.
2. New York Distilling Company: This distillery delivers on its mission to respect and enhance American cocktail heritage with their original, high-quality spirits. Gin aficionados will enjoy their Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin ($32/750mL) which packs a 114-proof punch at 57% ABV.
3. Celebration Distillation: Next time you make it to the Big Easy, venture a little ways from the French Quarter for a tour of Old New Orleans Rum. Distilled from locally-sourced molasses and aged in American Oak barrels, the high-quality product that results is equally suited to sipping and cocktail making (Hurricanes, anyone?). Featuring notes of cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove, the Cajun Spice Rum ($32/750mL) is warming in every way.
4. Tuthilltown Spirits: With the honor of being New York’s first whiskey distillery since prohibition, it makes sense that these guys have a solid small-batch spirit game. Give your next Manhattan a subtle, syrupy spin with their Hudson Maple Cask Rye Whiskey ($40/375mL) that’s aged in maple barrels.
5. Onyx Moonshine: Connecticut is probably one of the last states that comes to mind when you think of the ‘shine, but that’s where Onyx calls home. Their gold-medal-winning, New-England-style moonshine ($25/750mL) definitely deserves a spot on your bar cart.
6. Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka: Terrific wine isn’t the only grape-based goodness coming out of Sonoma County. A relative newcomer, Hanson of Sonoma delivers organic, naturally gluten-free vodkas with a fabulous mouthfeel. Available in original and an assortment of five other natural flavors ($36/750mL), there’s a bottle out there for everyone.
7. Clear Creek Distillery: Take your pick of eaux de vie, grappa, liqueur, brandy and more — all these spirits are distilled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. Made from raspberries grown near the distillery, their framboise ($51/375mL) is an indulgent, rare treat.
8. St. George Spirits: Operating out of a former naval hangar across the Bay from San Francisco, this Alameda-based company will stock your bar with the wide range of spirits, from absinthe to vodka. For a taste of the Golden State wherever you call home, their Terroir Gin ($31/750mL) is definitely the way to go.
9. Balcones Distillery: This whisky distillery is breaking some serious ground in Texas, winning over 40 awards in its short five-year history. But that’s not the only thing that sets them apart; their spirits are hand-crafted in stills of their own creation. With its nutty, roasted flavor and smooth finish, Baby Blue ($70/750mL) is a true original, and holds the title of being the only blue corn whisky in the world.
10. Death’s Door Spirits: The name may not be very inviting, but their commitment to working with local farmers certainly is. They give peppermint schnapps a welcome, and one might say wonderful, upgrade with their minty, sweet and herbaceous Wondermint Schnapps Liqueur ($23/750mL).
11. Papa’s Pilar: This distillery gives more than a subtle nod to Hemingway, famed author and fan of the daiquiri. Their Dark Rum ($40/750mL) is solera-aged in sherry casks, allowing it to develop a bold, intricate flavor that’s best served neat. (Photo via Bahama Bob’s Rumstyles)
12. Vikre Distillery: The carefully selected ingredients and overall attention to detail come through in every sip of these Minnesota-crafted spirits. Aquavit ($32/750mL bottle) may be the original Scandinavian spirit, but Vikre Distillery forges ahead with a subtle American spin. The traditional, assertive caraway seed is tempered with the flavors of a sweet rye bread, an excellent accompaniment to the cardamom notes.
13. Greenbar Craft Distillery: A devotion to making a wide variety of certified organic sprits and bitters sets this distillery apart. Before dinner, crack open a bottle of their Grand Poppy Aperitive ($30/750mL) for a California-inspired spin on Campari.
14. 44° North Vodka: Using potatoes, wheat and fruit all sourced from Idaho — along with Rocky Mountain spring water — this vodka does the state slogan, “Tasty Destinations,” proud. We’d gladly cool off with a glass of lemonade spiked with a splash of their huckleberry vodka ($35/750mL).
Have you ever tried one of these spirits? Are there any craft distilleries in your neck of the woods that you’d recommend we check out? Let us know below!