Nobody should ever be ashamed about their choice of beverage. And there’s nothing gendered about any flavor, or cocktail, or ingredient. With that said, way too many dudes steer clear of drinking sweet and fruity things because they’re “too girly.”
Well, I’m here to change that. Especially in summer, sipping on fruity spirits is a great way to beat the heat, and there are plenty of ‘em out there that are high-proof, cocktail-friendly and perfectly acceptable for men (or women) to drink. Here are six that show off the wide variety of fruity flavors you can find in your booze.
PLANTATION STIGGINS’ FANCY PINEAPPLE RUM ($35)
Artificially flavored vodkas, whiskies and rums are common today, but back in the 1700s, Caribbean distillers started aging their rums with pineapples in the barrel to add sweetness and rich acidity. Inspired by this, eminent drinks writer and historian David Wondrich helped create this rum, which mixes a dark rum aged with pineapple flesh and a white rum redistilled with pineapple rind. The resulting spirit is amazingly complex, a little bit sweet and absolutely perfect for tiki drinks of all kinds.
BOODLES MULBERRY GIN ($29)
Mulberries are one of the most delicious fruits out there, tasting something like a mix of raspberry and blackberry but even sweeter. Sadly, they don’t ship well and aren’t very easy to find. British distillery Boodles solved that problem by steeping the delicate fruits in its traditional juniper-heavy gin, creating a unique twist on the classic sloe gin. The result is quite delicious at brunch mixed with Champagne, but if you’re ready to party, use it in Alabama Slammers.
SINGANI 63 ($30)
When Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh was in Bolivia filming Che, he got introduced to the local hooch, singani, an unaged brandy made from muscat grapes grown at incredibly high elevation. He got a little obsessed and spent the next several years working to get this brand imported into the U.S. Like its better-known cousin, Peru and Chile’s pisco, singani offers amazingly aromatic floral, plum, cherry and pear flavors that are lovely to appreciate neat but even lovelier mixed with citrus and simple syrup in a Sour.
CLEAR CREEK BLUE PLUM BRANDY ($45)
If you’re of Eastern European descent, you may have come across a bottle of slivovitz in the back of your grandparents’ kitchen cabinet. It’s a clear brandy distilled from plums that’s popular from Poland to Bulgaria. This is an American version of the spirit, from a Portland (Ore.) distillery renowned for its fruit brandies. It’s an amazingly flavorful spirit that captures the full experience of eating a fresh plum, including juicy sweet notes from the flesh, dry tannins from the skin and even a bit of bitterness from the pit. Sip it chilled for an after-dinner treat.
LUXARDO MARASCHINO LIQUEUR ($32)
Back in the 19th century, in the days of sleeve-gartered, elaborately mustachioed gentlemen like Jerry Thomas were slinging the cocktails that today we call classics, the cherry liqueur called marashino was ubiquitous. (Old-timey recipes with the word “improved” in the name were improved by adding the stuff.) Luxardo Maraschino has been made the same way since 1821, and it’s certainly sweet but packs a serious punch. Where liqueurs are usually used in lower-proof, more refreshing cocktails, this one is ideal for stirred-and-strong drinks, especially if they call for gin or rye whiskey.
REAL MINERO PECHUGA MEZCAL ($170)
If you’ve ever heard of pechuga mezcal, you probably focused on the fact that it’s distilled with a chicken or turkey breast (pechuga in Spanish) suspended in the still. But what you may not have known is that pechuga distillers also pack the still with an assortment of nuts and fruits like apples, pineapples, plantains and the like, which affect the finished product’s flavor much more than the meat. This delicious version of the genre is smoother than the typical mezcal but still has plenty of smoke alongside its fruity complexity and just a bare hint of umami.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM SOME BARTENDERS