Bartenders Share The Unexpected Bottles Of Booze They Like To Sip Straight While Stuck At Home

Sure, for the first few days (hell, even the first few weeks), being quarantined in our homes wasn’t so awful. We found a nice spot to work, made a little focaccia, and finally slowed the hell down. Our shelves were brimming with salty snacks and toilet paper. We could randomly have sex and take naps whenever we felt like it (though we woke up dreading missed Slack pings).

But it’s been awhile. The snacks and TP are both running low. Our shelter in place partners are too annoyed with our breakfast dishes to stay horny. And the economic fears that marked the beginning of the shutdown have only been amplified. At least there’s still some booze left, right? Something hiding in the back of the liquor cabinet?

With the quarantine rolling on, we asked some of our favorite bartenders to shout out the unexpected spirits they like to drink straight. Maybe you’ll get lucky and already have one of these on hand.

Mr Black Coffee Liqueur

Martin Hudak, bartender at Maybe Sammy in Sydney, Australia

Mr Black Coffee Liqueur. It’s robust in flavor and aroma and has more real coffee content than any other liqueur on the market, which is why it’s great to enjoy on its own. Also, the sugar level is low so you can play around and experiment with it in your cocktail without the guilt.

Plymouth Gin

Mary Cooksey, bar manager at Oak Bar in Nashville

Plymouth gin is the gin you need to be drinking straight. It’s incredibly fresh and aromatic, while only slightly bitter. Its botanicals have a floral quality, as well as big notes of lemon peel, coriander, and, of course, juniper berries. I love how this gin is bright and crisp, with layers of complexity. It’s difficult to not appreciate it straight, honestly.

Illegal Mezcal

Cody Dillon, general manager at Florblanca in Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

I’m enjoying Illegal Reposado Mezcal these days because it has just enough of the smoky flavor I love about mezcal without being too harsh. I drink it on the rocks with sea salt and lime.

Novo Fogo Cachaca

Cody Goldstein, founder at Muddling Memories in New York City

Lately, I have really been on a rum/cachaca kick because of its slight sweetness and smooth drinkability. Especially Novo Fogo Cachaca’s “Chameleon” — which has been aged for one year and offers a pure taste of the Brazilian specialty with tasty hints of vanilla, hazelnut and some citrus fruits.

I highly recommend putting the bottle in the freezer and drinking the product chilled.


Josh Saphier, bartender at Eighteen36 in Houston

I’m a die-hard bartender when it comes to this, give me a shot of Fernet-Branca (the bartender’s handshake). Super herbaceous and actually makes you feel a little better after a long shift and scarfing down a meal standing up in three minutes.

Coquerel Calvados

Josh Streetman, bartender at Motor Supply Co. in Columbia, South Carolina

Besides your go to neat whiskeys or bourbons, I like to try things a little off the beaten path. After dinner, calvados is a great idea. Try Coquerel. The XO is awesome and there’s one finished in a bourbon barrel that’s nice too. Cognac is a great choice as well. I like Remy Martin XO for the smooth complexity, but I’ll go for some Louie Tres if you’re buying. Be prepared: it’s more oaky though.

L’Or de Jean Martell Cognac

Natalie Migliarini, the mixologist behind Beautiful Booze on Instagram

I have to go with Cognac. L’Or de Jean Martell. This is the ultimate cognac that is a blend of 400 different rare eaux de vies with notes of citrus and gingerbread.

Del Maguey Mezcal

Bryan Long, assistant director of food and beverages at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Palm Beach, Florida

The best spirit to drink straight has to be Mezcal. Mezcal has the smokiness of a scotch, sweetness of a tequila and notes of spice from a bourbon. Del Maguey has a great variety to keep everyone interested.

Coyote Sotol Durango

Mazzarie Parker, bar manager of Maypop Restaurant in New Orleans

I was recently introduced to sotol, which is a Mexican spirit made from the desert spoon plant. The flavors of this spirit are comparable to tequila and mezcal. Coyote Sotol Durango, produced by Alejandro Solís, is a great spirit for sipping. It’s kind of nutty on the nose and has a palate of herbs and slight smoke with a smooth finish. It’s exciting to see new and unique spirits emerging on our shelves that we get to try for the first time. If you’re like me, in quarantine trying new hobbies that you’ve never gotten around to, why not try a new spirit to sip like this one (if it’s familiar to you already, you’ve got me beat) while you learn to crochet?

Tobaxiche Mezcal

Jake Larowe, bar manager at Birds and Bees in Los Angeles

Mezcal. It’s hard to pick a single brand since there are so many wonderful mezcals available in a variety of flavor profiles. I would recommend trying Tobaxiche or Tobala mezcals — which can have less heavy smoke flavor and more light fruity esters.

Dalmore King Alexander III

Piero Procida, bartender at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles

Dalmore’s King Alexander III Scotch whisky, hands down. If I am going to drink something straight there better be some sophistication there and not just a mouthful of alcohol. Unlike many Scotches, especially young ones where you need to at least add water to make it drinkable, this is so smooth you would almost be doing it a disservice if you added water. It’s going to be a slightly expensive bottle, but the value you are going to get is unsurpassed and is certainly my personal favorite. The King Alex has had the opportunity to age in a variety of casks and is the only single malt in the world utilizing six different types of wood in maturation. Its common practice to use maybe three, but not six. During these processes I feel it’s had enough exposure to moisture and different casks that it has toned down the bite. Instead, you just get a whole lot of flavor.

Xoriguer Gin de Mahón

Alan Walter, spirit handler at Bar Loa in New Orleans

Xoriguer Gin de Mahón. This gin is eau-de-vie based and rested in oak barrels for a superior sipping experience. It definitely can’t be beat… if you can get your hands on a bottle.