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!