Mediterranean Spirits – Wine & Spirits Magazine

Mediterranean Spirits

The best summer cocktails are transporting, made with spirits that evoke sun and sandy beaches. Here are a few that will take you to the Mediterranean.

Grace Gin

The Katsou sisters make this gin at their family’s distillery on the island of Evia in the Aegean Sea. Working with local botanicals such as myrtle, skinos and critamos, they’ve created a spirit that evokes the Greek isles in its fruity, herbal notes and backbone of salinity. It makes a terrific Mediterranean-style G&T, poured over ice, with tonic water and a splash of citrus juice. —Imported by Athenee Importers & Distributors, Hempstead, NY; 45.7% abv, $46/750ml

Frank Cornelissen MunJebel Grappa

Frank Cornelissen, a Belgian famed for the low-intervention wines he makes on Mt. Etna in Sicily, bases this grappa on the must left over from his MunJebel Rosso, a red wine made from nerello mascalese. Aged for seven years, the grappa is rich in texture and complex in flavor, the red fruit notes still vibrant, with mint, lemon and vegetal highlights. This is one to savor slowly. —Imported by PM Spirits, NY; 60% abv, $85/375ml

Arak Brun

Faouzi Issa takes arak seriously at Dom­aine des Tourelles, his family’s winery in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. He bases his arak on his two best grapes—cinsault and obaideh, a local white grape—and grows his own anise seed for flavoring it. After a year-long rest in amphorae, the resulting spirit is smooth, and bursting with pure, clean anise flavor. Pour it over ice cubes and add cold water to allow it to louche: It’s a refreshing drink on a hot day. —Imported by V.O.S. Selections, NY; 53% abv, $29/375ml

Mahón Gin

This gin claims its own designation of origin, IGT Mahón-Menorca, in the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. It’s been made since 1910, when Miguel Pons Justo began distilling it for the British soldiers who were stationed in the port. To this day, the gin’s main botanical is juniper berries harvested from high up in the mountains surrounding Mahón. They grow so intense in flavor that they are aged before being added to the gin. The scented spirit is then wood-fired in a copper still. The result is fragrant and fruity, with a mouthfilling texture. Have it in a Menorcan cocktail like a Pomada, by adding some fresh lemonade and mint. —Imported by Glass Revolution Imports, Las Vegas, NV; 41% abv, $35/750ml

Ambrosia Aperitivo

Working out of a distillery in Washington, DC, Francesco Amodeo takes inspiration from his family’s hometown of Atrani, on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, for his line of liqueurs. Ambrosia, his latest release, is made of macerated fruit and spices, including blood orange, cantaloupe and turmeric, and then fortified with a neutral base. It’s both bitter and sweet, the fruit flavors clear and distinct, combining with the spice to deepen into notes of stone fruit and cherries. It makes a terrific summer spritz, with soda water, and maybe a splash of Prosecco. —Don Ciccio & Figli, Washington, DC; 15% abv, $31/750ml

Mattei Cap Corse Quinquina Blanc & Rouge

These two quinquinas are named after the peninsula that juts north off the island of Corsica. Both are based on muscat and vermentino, and get their signature bitterness from the addition of cinchona bark; the difference between the red and white is their flavoring agents. The blanc, flavored with cedrat, a local thick-skinned citron, tastes like summer in its notes of honeysuckle and Meyer lemon; the red, flavored with spices and walnuts, is fragrant with cinnamon and orange peel. They are both delicious over ice, or swap vermouth out for quinquina in a twist on the Negroni. —Imported by Haus Alpenz, NY; 17% abv, $21/750ml

is the former W&S Tasting Director turned freelance writer for the Vintner Project.

This story appears in the print issue of August 2019.
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