St-Germain is often referred to as “bartender’s ketchup” within the cocktailing world. The elderflower liqueur (which is not as old as you might think it is) somehow makes almost any cocktail better—just like ketchup can make even an overcooked steak taste decent. But it’s not alone in its versatility and capability. Here are five new(ish) liqueurs that are primed to become the next “it” liqueur.
Made from Calabrian bergamot, this extremely aromatic liqueur may be new to you, but the inspiration actually comes from Rosolio, an Italian aperitif that once rivaled vermouth. Bartender Giuseppe Gallo resurrected the style of spirit using both a 19th century recipe and his family’s Rosolio-making traditions. On its own, Italicus is perfumed with a zesty citrus twinge and some tea notes. But it truly shines stirred or shaken into cocktails. It’s a no-brainer in a White Negroni or a Martini but we’ve even had it in spritzes or mixed into a sherry-based Manhattan.
Made by Gary Kelleher, the founder of Texas-based Dripping Springs vodka and gins, and CEO of Paula’s Texas Spirits, this honeysuckle liqueur is a bit of a passion project. It took Kelleher five years to perfect the recipe. Bright and floral with a deep, honeyed finish, this sweet liqueur adds body and a truly St-Germain-esque oomph to cocktails. Try it in a Margarita, use it to sweeten a Hot Toddy or (our favorite) stir it into an Old Fashioned in place of the sugar. Currently, Martine is only available in Texas, but fingers crossed it expands its reach soon.
If you’ve glanced at a cocktail menu recently, you’ll have probably noticed this spicy liqueur in a fair share of drinks. Bartenders can’t get enough of its balanced, sweet-pepper flavor. It will amp up your Margarita, turn your Moscow Mule into something special, or even lend some tasty heat to a White Russian. It’s available in both the roasted, toasty Ancho flavor as well as the more vegetable Verde flavor. Either one is a great choice for your home bar. We promise you’ll find yourself reaching for it time and time again when you have a drink that could use just a little something special.
While the name alone makes this bottle a worthwhile purchase (who doesn’t want a bottle of Dragoncello on their bar?), the flavors are equally incredible. Though it’s produced in South Carolina, this liqueur is decidedly European. The main botanical is artemisia dracunculus (aka French tarragon), which owners Renato Vicario and Janette Wesley cultivate on their farm of Italian botanicals. The liqueur is heavy on the tarragon with twinges of anise and other heady herbs. It is absolutely beautiful sipped solo, but also works in variations on classics like Sazeracs or Manhattans.
A traditional Eastern European liqueur, krupnik (as it is called in Lithuania and Poland) is a spiced honey liqueur sipped at celebrations. This one is made in New York’s Hudson Valley. It’s silky with a mouth-coating honey finish and some bright spices to balance out the sweetness. It’s also a respectable 40 percent ABV—that’s 80 proof—which makes it somewhat dangerous to drink straight (it’s very easy to guzzle) and also very good in cocktails. Stir it into a Boulevardier, use it to spike lemonade, shake it into a Whiskey Sour. It’s very easy to go through a bottle.