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Sid Says



Tequila, vodka, gin, rum, check. Pinot grigio, merlot, champagne, check. Grand Marnier, Frangelico, check. Your home can be well stocked for a cocktail or dinner party. Sometimes you want to delight your friends and family and expand your alcohol-based arsenal. Here are five suggested spirits that are guaranteed to lift everyone’s spirits.

Aperol, which is now manufactured by Campari, is an increasingly popular Italian apéritif made of gentianrhubarb and cinchona, among other ingredients. It is less bitter than Campari (both contain the same amount of sugar) and contains less alcohol than its better-known cousin. Like Campari, it can be consumed straight up or on the rocks, but is being primarily enjoyed these days as part of a refreshing concoction called the Aperol Spritz (in which it is combined with equal parts of prosecco and sparkling or seltzer water).

Cachaca, a Brazilian-based distilled spirit that is similar in many ways to rum, is made from fermented sugar cane juice. While the so-called “dark” variety of this potent potable can be consumed on its own, the liquor’s most famously used as an ingredient in tropical cocktails such as the caiprinha, which (as anyone who has had one knows) can go down very easily—so be careful.

Cava is often referred to by drinkers as “Spanish champagne”—although it can no longer legally be advertised as such—and there’s no question this bubbly beverage is a wonderful alternative to the good (and usually more expensive) French stuff or its popular Italian equivalent, prosecco. Made primarily in Spain’s Catalonia region, this wonderful wine is produced in both white (blanc) or rose (roast) varieties and is a perfect choice to start any celebration or propose a toast.

Pimm’s, a staple in its native England (where it is an official drink at the world-famous Wimbledon tennis tournament), is a gin-based reddish-brown liqueur that tastes subtly of spice and citrus fruit. It can be mixed with carbonated lemonade, ginger ale, warm apple juice and any kind of sparkling white wine or champagne, and then garnished with a variety of fruit. It is most popularly consumed as Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, which is readily available throughout the U.S.

Sauternes, somewhat more popular in its native France than here in America, is a distinctly flavored sweet wine from that country’s Bordeaux region. It’s often paired with rich starters such as foie gras or dessert courses (not altogether surprising since Sauternes often contains notes of fruits such as apricot and peaches, as well as honey). It varies greatly in price and quality, but (if you can afford it), you can never go wrong with a bottle of the famed Chateau d’Yquem.

Barry Segel