Red wines are all very well and good in winter, but this year we’re giving artisan spirits a try. Forget cheese and wine and gin and tonic – our roundup of top liquors to drink this winter will get you through parties, outdoor excursions and quiet nights at home. It’s time to invest in a good thermos!
Come winter, many drinkers switch to brown spirits. That’s a mistake though – vodka is a great liquor to drink in the winter. Grab a 250g steak, sear it and serve it rare with ice-cold vodka for a meal that all your man friends will be proud of. What a fabulous surprise to know that a shot of vodka is also a perfect pairing with a hors d’oeuvre of thinly sliced smoked salmon, sour cream and capers for that Christmas in July dinner party you’re hosting. If you’re not working on your summer body this winter, you can even nibble ricotta, goat cheese and Swiss cheese and take your shot for an afternoon snack.
In your cart: Comedy legend Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka comes in an eye-catching skull-shaped bottle made by Bruni Glass in Italy. The kosher-certified vodka is made with highest quality peaches and cream corn that’s distilled four times into a neutral grain spirit and blended with pristine water from Newfoundland, Canada. The liquid is then filtered seven times, of which three are through layers of semi-precious crystals known as Herkimer diamonds.
R725 from Normal Goodfellows
Cognac just feels right on a cold evening, don’t you think? Rich, spicy, woodsy, flowery and utterly luxuriant, there’s something ineffably wintry about it. Sipping cognac as a digestif with dessert is an indulgent way to keep a great meal going in winter. If a cheese board is more your kind of after-dinner treat, try a younger cognac with sweet, fruity flavours paired with creamy and soft blue cheeses. Surprisingly, when served chilled, cognac also cuts through the richness of salmon and crayfish and matches the zingy flavours of oysters.
In your cart: Godet Antarctica Icy White is an amazing little cognac that’s aged for seven years in old oak before being naturally filtered, resulting in a pale hue. Distilled from the Folle Blanche grape, it’s floral with hints of caramel sweetness, chamomile, juniper and some dried apricot on the nose. On the palate, you’ll pick up good sweetness, dried fruits, a little chamomile again, sultanas and some orange blossom. Best served straight from the freezer!
R579 from Yuppiechef
While it’s usually associated with summery, tropical cocktails, rum’s molasses-like sweetness also makes a warming addition to the sort of drinks we turn to as the temperatures plummet. The trick is to swap out white and silver rums (the ones typically used in daiquiris and mojitos) for golden and dark rums when the weather chills. Golden rums pair well with deep-fried fish, jerk chicken and glazed barbecue ribs, while dark rums love burgers, steaks, brisket and dark chocolate brownies. If you’re one of those people who can’t resist ice cream in winter, try rum and raisin with an extra shot of rum.
In your cart: Inverroche Cape Potstill Rum is easily one of the best local rums on the market. Crafted from African blackstrap treacle molasses and aged for seven years in first- and second-fill oak casks from Scotland, Portugal and Kentucky, this sipping rum has a deep, rich colour and a dry, smoky citrus and vanilla character with a delicious butterscotch finish. If you’re able to get your hands on a bottle, count yourself lucky – only three limited editions of 1,000 bottles each are released every year!
R645 from Bottleshop.co.za