We all have tried and true favorite spirits; the ones that have gotten us through the longest days, and greatest celebrations. Though allegiances can be hard to break, having an open mind toward drink exploration can lead not only to incredible new cocktails to sip, but also to equity in the spirits world that has needed it for so long.
2020 has echoed a number of rallying cries for the wine, beer, and spirits industries to be more inclusive on a number of fronts. And right from the comforts of our own homes, we can be a part of this movement with a few remixes to our at-home cocktail bar. The stories behind these brands stretch from Trinidad to Tennessee, and their products just might be the base to your next great cocktail.
It’s likely no one would ever have sipped the ubiquitous “Jack and Coke” if it weren’t for Nathan “Nearest” Green, an enslaved man who taught a young Jack Daniel how to distill whiskey in the 1850s. This century, Fawn Weaver has made sure we don’t forget Green with her brand Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, which was one of two brands named “World’s Best” at Whisky Magazine’s 2019 World Whiskies Awards. (The brand was also ranked one of VinePair’s best craft whiskeys under $60). The line includes a premium aged whiskey with a blend of 8- to 14- year old, an 11-year-old minimum age single barrel, and a 7-year-old small batch offering.
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The drink below, Harvest Moon, was created for VinePair by Chris “Speedy” Krantz, Uncle Nearest market manager in Alabama and Tennessee. It’s for those who enjoy an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, but are looking to zhuzh it up a bit for autumn. “I decided to forego a 9-touch cocktail with homemade bitters or tinctures in favor of something more accessible,” Krantz says. “Uncle Nearest, Rivulet, and Hella Cocktail Co. are all African-American owned. This cocktail celebrates that synergy.”
Developed by: Chris “Speedy” Krantz
- 1½ ounces Uncle Nearest 1856
- ¼ ounce Rivulet
- ¼ ounce Don Ciccio & Figli Nocino
- ½ teaspoon St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
- 2 dashes of Hella Aromatic Bitters
- Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass.
- Strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with echinacea.
TEN TO ONE
The best of the Caribbean is represented in this rum brand from Marc Farrell, a proud Trinidadian and Starbucks’ youngest-ever former VP. Ten to One is a masterful blend of 8-year old aged Barbados and Dominican rums, combined with Jamaican and Trinidadian rum, with a taste that aims to challenge a spirit that is often attributed to frozen drinks.
“Growing up in Trinidad gave me a profound appreciation for how amazing both rum, and the heritage that surrounds it, could ultimately be. Through the lens of Trinidadian culture, I understood rum to be an extremely versatile spirit with a number of premium expressions that played a pivotal role in many of the moments of celebration — both big and small — that we enjoyed as a people,” says Farrell. Try this twist on the classic Negroni below.
Blood Orange Negroni
Developed by: Ten to One
- 1 ounce Ten to One White Rum
- 1 ounce Campari
- ½ ounce Carpano Antica
- ½ ounce Salerno Blood Orange Liqueur
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- Pinch of sea salt
- Blood orange slice, for garnish
- Stir ingredients in a mixing glass over ice.
- Serve over a big cube, and garnish with blood orange slice.
If you add Brough Brothers bourbon to your bar, not only can you make a delicious Old Fashioned recipe below, you’ll also have a bottle from Kentucky’s first-ever Black-owned distillery. It all started with three brothers, Victor, Christian, and Bryson Yarbrough, who launched Brough Brothers in Louisville in February 2020, making history in bourbon’s 231-year-old industry.
“Brough Brothers really takes inspiration from our last name, Yarbrough. We are our brand, we wanted to create a legacy. Not only for us brothers, but also in terms of diversity within the spirits industry,” says Victor Yarbrough. “With our brand, we hope to be of inspiration to a more diverse generation that will make new history in American distilling.”
Brough Brothers Old Fashioned
Developed by: Brough Brothers
- 1 sugar cube, melted
- 2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 ounces Brough Brothers bourbon (or rye whiskey)
- Optional: 1 orange slice and splash club soda
- Garnish: orange peel and Maraschino cherry
- Pour the sugar, bitters, and splash of club soda into a whiskey glass.
- Stir to combine, then pour bourbon over the ice.
- Garnish with the orange peel and Maraschino cherry.
“In 2013, Du Nord Craft Spirits was formed as the nation’s first Black-owned distillery, though we didn’t know it at the time,” says Chris Montana, who is also the president of the American Craft Spirits Association. “There were hundreds of breweries in Minnesota, but no distilleries, so I thought, ‘Why not me?’”
Du Nord offers a lineup of vodka, gin, whiskey, and apple and coffee liqueurs. The distillery is based in Minneapolis, where Montana says the events of 2020, including the murder of George Floyd, “laid bare the drastically different outcomes for communities of color” in his neighborhood. “At Du Nord,” Montana says, “we have historically gone about our business quietly, but this is not a time to be shy about the situation we and so many others face every day.”
DuNord’s Henry Gatz cocktail uses the distillery’s Fitzgerald Gin for a botanical and bright low-ABV drink, with crisp green pepper and citrus flavors.
Developed by: Du Nord
- ½ ounce Fitzgerald Gin
- 1 ounce lime Juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 3 jalapeńo slices
- Partially rim lowball glass with salt.
- Muddle ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice before pouring into glass.
- Adjust the number of jalapeńo slices to your heat preference.
HH BESPOKE SPIRITS
The HH Bespoke Spirits Collection includes vodka, gin and rum. The gin remixes traditional London Dry style with American botanicals and juniper; and the recipe below amplifies those flavors even further with a tropical twist. “The idea behind the HH Hawaiian Vacation cocktail was to play off the pineapple and lemon flavor to accent the notes of the gin. This is a light and velvety drink that has a great flavor and texture to the cocktail,” says Brent Herrig, creative director of HH Bespoke.
HH Bespoke Spirits is owned by the family behind fashion brand Harlem Haberdashery. Sharene Woods, president and CEO of Harlem Haberdashery, says the bottle designs pay homage to the distinctive style of the Harlem Renaissance. “Our goal is to expand into a full-fledged lifestyle company with bespoke products in all categories,” says Woods. “At Harlem Haberdashery we are committed to producing exclusive and quality products, celebrating family, and building a transferable legacy of business and wealth.”
HH Hawaiian Vacation
Developed by: Brent Herrig
- 2 ounces HH Bespoke Gin
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- ¼ ounce pineapple juice
- ½ ounce orgeat
- Shake all ingredients and strain over ice over ice into a coupe glass.