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Tony Sachs


Candy? Flowers? Feh! New Spirits To Wow Your Sweetie This Valentine's Day

Posted: 02/10/2012 7:49 pm

I love the excitement that comes with trying a new spirit for the first time. How does this whiskey compare to my old favorites? How is this new liqueur different from all the other ones on the market? What's going to make people drink this new gin? It's a thrill to figure it all out, with my taste buds as my guide.

Only problem is, the assortment of spirits that have crossed my desk in the last few months are pretty random -- what's going to make anyone apart from the hardiest spirits geek want to read about two Scotches, a couple of brandies, a bourbon, a vodka, and a pair of liqueurs? Well, I've found from experience that, when in doubt, it never hurts to look to the calendar for some thematic unity. Write about a dozen grappas and who cares? But write about the best grappas to drink for Arbor Day and you've got a hot and timely piece on your hands.

Since it's February, I had three possible tie-ins. Black History Month? Figuring out which spirit would have been tastiest on the March to Selma or along the Underground Railroad felt a little... unseemly. Presidents' Day? An interesting idea, but I got bogged down trying to figure out if Patron's XO Cafe Dark Cocoa was the Chester Arthur or the Franklin Pierce of liqueurs.

Which left Valentine's Day. Certainly a well-made, well-chosen spirit, in cocktail form or otherwise, can be quite the aphrodisiac. Cocktails, sipping spirits, after-dinner liqueurs, all can set the stage for an evening of amour. And if you're alone and miserable on V-Day, there's nothing like some booze -- high quality or otherwise -- to help you forget your troubles.

So forget champagne. Sure it's romantic, but a good Scotch, or a really well-made curaçao, is sexy. This year, on this very special Hallmark holiday, you lovers need to wow your mates with the latest spirits the world of alcohol has to offer. If drink be the food of love, then bottoms up, baby!

Courvoisier C Cognac ($35)
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You kids today! Back when my liver was knee-high to a grasshopper, cognac was something sipped in elegant snifters in stodgy mens clubs, or paired with a fine cigar after a nine-course dinner at your country estate. Nowadays it's a party drink, to be quaffed during a night out at the club. Which I suppose is why Courvoisier helpfully included a flask when they sent me their latest expression, C By Courvoisier -- it can be difficult to dance while holding a 750ml bottle. As for the contents of the bottle, the small-batch cognac is double-barrel aged, meaning it's first aged in younger barrels and then in older ones, to give both an intense and well-rounded flavor. And it's meant to be served chilled. Chilled?! Purists need not bother. But if you lay your preconceptions aside it's definitely better than Grey Goose or Captain Morgan or any of those other party-type spirits. It's quite mild for a cognac, with notes of orange peel and bread tempering the woodiness, and surprisingly little alcoholic burn on the finish. For Valentine's Day, ditch the flask and break out the snifters for a night of amour.

Courvoisier, 40% alcohol by volume, age not stated
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