Manly Drinks

It would take an Indiana Jones-type of expedition to find all of these liquors, as a few of them don’t make it to American shores. But they are the best of their kind and worth going the extra mile to drink.

Camus XO cognac, France From the tiny French growing area called the Borderies, five generations of the Camus family have raised grapes in the chalky soil to produce a subtle and elegant brandy that balances floral bouquet and intense flavor. Cognac has been the drink of royalty since the 17th century, and this is one of the best—and fortunately for us, available at local liquor retailers. $120;

Nemiroff Lex vodka, Ukraine

Russian Vodka drinkers are so enthusiastic about Ukrainian distiller Nemiroff that most of its products never leave the Ukraine. Available in decidedly rare quantities in the United States, the balalaika-shaped bottle of Lex holds a spirit that’s filtered through oats and lime blossoms, making for a smooth vodka that still packs a punch. $40, if you can find it.


Legendario Ron Añejo rum, Cuba

Aged in old bourbon and whiskey barrels, Legendario has indeed been a legend in Cuba since 1945.  Silky smooth, with the color and flavor of caramel and fortified with a touch of moscato wine, this 9-year-old rum might be worth a clandestine journey to Havana. Let’s hope that ferry to Cuba starts running soon. $60, plus a boat to Cuba;


Bladnoch whisky, Scotland

Made from good Scottish grains and water from the River Bladnoch that runs right outside the plant, this southernmost distillery in Scotland has been making an eminently drinkable Lowlands sipping whisky since 1817. It puts all those smoky, tar-packed Highlands malts to shame. I’ve spent time with its irascible distiller, Raymond Armstrong, and the fact that the Bladnoch doesn’t produce enough single malt to export to the States is OK by him. $70-$80, depending on the exchange rate;


Lucid absinthe, USA

Banned in the States since 1915 for its supposed hallucinogenic properties, the “Green Fairy,” as absinthe was known, was sought after by writers and bohemians as the artistic spirit of choice. I know from personal experience, and a half-remembered night in Venice, that absinthe isn’t a casual cocktail, but a licorice-like and very potent quaff. The American company Viridian Spirits petitioned to have the ban lifted, and in 2007 began importing genuine absinthe from France. Now we can enjoy the real wormwood-laced thing once again. Preferably sitting down. $60;

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