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6 Spirits of the Southwest


Whether you’re seeking the perfect bottle to give as a gift or mixing up bowlfuls of fun for a party, here are six great Southwestern spirits perfect for any bar

By Kara Newman

Photo by Rhett Blankenship
Photo by Rhett Blankenship

1. Breckenridge Bitter

Bearing a passing resemblance to Italy’s famous bitter amaro, this Colorado-made variation steeps herbs, roots and spices for a variation that will remind some of a gently bitter sarsaparilla. Though it’s wonderful as a digestif or mixed into cocktails, the producer says it really was created with beer in mind: Try adding a few ounces to a pint of IPA.

2. High West Bourye

This vibrant blend of bourbon and rye whiskeys melds the best of both spirits:  The caramel and brown sugar typical of bourbon is accented by the bracing spice characteristic of rye, yielding a complex whiskey ideal for sipping or mixing. Its creator, High West in Park City, Utah, lays claim to being the world’s only ski-in distillery.

3. Treaty Oak Barrel Reserve Rum

This innovative craft distiller in Texas Hill Country has been making some delicious spirits, including this daiquiri-worthy rum. The base is distilled from Texas molasses, then it’s aged in American oak barrels in the hot Texas sun for two years. The end result is a fruity burst overlaid with vanilla and spice, like baked pears or bananas Foster, ideal for mixing into rum punches and other festive drinks.

4. CapRock Gin

Distilled high in the Colorado mountains, the base of this unique gin is made from certified organic apples, then infused with a blend of a dozen fruits, flowers, seeds and spices, creating a slightly fruity gin that finishes lean and crisp. Mixologists in Denver and Aspen are pouring CapRock into high-end libations; it’s also a perfect companion for a refreshing G&T.

5. Soiled Doves Vodka

The name of the vodka refers to the saucy Old West term for saloon and dance hall girls, who played a key role in building Durango, Colorado, home base to producer Durango Craft Spirits. The vodka’s fleeting sweetness is due to one key ingredient: native-grown, non-GMO white corn from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe in Towaoc, Colorado.

6. Copper City Bourbon

Arizona Distilling Co. makes this vanilla-tinged, 2-year-old bourbon from corn, rye and barley. It’s the first legally produced bourbon in the state since Prohibition, and the freewheeling, small-batch spirit is ideal for mixing into classic cocktails like the Old-Fashioned. The distillery also produces a whiskey made from local durum wheat.

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