Flavored spirits are a tasty way to bring more cheer to your holidays. These top-notch and reasonably priced picks are delightful to drink on their own or as part of a cocktail…
Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka: Van Gogh, a Dutch producer, pioneered adding chocolate flavor to vodka using essential oils. It’s chocolate-y in a European style, so not especially sweet. It’s also clear—Van Gogh doesn’t add caramel coloring to make it look like chocolate, as other makers do. 70 proof. $28.
To enjoy: For a decadent dessert cocktail, add a little cream and a little hazelnut liqueur to this vodka.
Hangar One Mandarin Blossom Vodka. There’s orange vodka, and then there’s the Hangar One. The flavor comes from mandarin blossoms instead of the juice, making the result more floral than juicy, more subtle rather than over the top. 80 proof. $41.
To enjoy: Chill and sip in front of a wintery fireplace—what more do you need?
Square One Cucumber Vodka. This effort takes flavored spirits down a path no one probably imagined. But it’s an intriguing, almost minty drink, made with cucumber essence—the flavor is captured via evaporation—and it really does taste like cucumbers. This is made with organic rye—which is not common for a vodka—so it’s also a little spicier than the typical potato or wheat vodka. 80 proof. $35.
To enjoy: How about a cucumber Bloody Mary for a holiday brunch? Just substitute the cucumber vodka in your favorite Bloody Mary recipe.
BSB 103 from Heritage Distilling Co. This is the more alcoholic version of Heritage Distilling’s BSB-Brown Sugar Bourbon, an almost-syrupy 60-proof bottle. It’s amazingly like brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a glass, with a smack of alcoholic heat for good measure. Not for traditionalists. 103 proof. $45.
To enjoy: Use the bourbon in your favorite pecan pie recipe, then serve a glass on the side.