North Carolina Holiday Spirits

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s always fun to think of interesting items for gift-giving and special cocktails. Instead of wrapping a bottle of Kentucky bourbon or California sparkling wine, let’s explore a few North Carolina liqueurs that are perfect for gifts or for a cocktail at your virtual holiday party.

Beatnik Liqueur, Brothers Vilgalys Spirits

A fun liqueur is made in Durham by Brothers Vilgalys Spirits. One of four liqueur offerings by this distillery, the Beatnik is a phenomenal savory and sweet – ying and yang – of a spirit. Made from fresh beets, thyme, sage, rosemary, fennel seeds, orange zest and sweetened with raw sugar, it’s an unexpected combination for sure, but perfect for a warm, hot-toddy-style cocktail.

Appalachian Fernet, Eda Rhyne Distillery

Do you have a cocktail aficionado to gift this year for secret Santa? Then you must seek out a special N.C.-made amaro. Produced by Eda Rhyne Distillery in Asheville, their Appalachian Fernet is a delicious herbal, bitter liqueur that is sourced from a combination of foraged, wild western North Carolina and globally sourced herbs. This is a truly fantastic example of how craft distilleries leverage historical recipes as a foundation and bring in the terroir of their local region.

Rum Au Café, Lassiter Distilling Company

While not technically a liqueur (as it contains no added sugar), this coffee-infused rum is made by Knightdale’s Lassiter Distilling Company. Their Rum Au Café uses coffee beans from Raleigh Coffee Company with the base of the distillery’s molasses-forward white rum. If you’re thinking about after-dinner drinks that aren’t too sweet, then try 1 ounce Rum Au Café with 3 ounces Irish Cream. Shake with ice, strain into a martini glass and top with fresh whipped cream.

Damn Fine Mocha Liqueur, Durham Distillery

Durham Distillery’s Damn Fine liqueur line has been a hit since its launch in 2015. All natural, gluten-free and without any high-fructose corn syrup, these liqueurs showcase traditional techniques when liqueurs were made at home by families, especially for the holidays. Damn Fine Mocha liqueur is the favorite of guests on our distillery tours and is a perfect balance of chocolate and coffee, featuring two other Triangle companies — Videri Chocolate and Slingshot Coffee.

For inspiration on cocktails using all of these products, the companies provide recipes on their website and social feeds.

Even better, all of these distilleries are small businesses, so you’re giving back directly to the community by seeking them out. Take a tour of one or more of these local distilleries. You can try most of these products with their distillery’s cocktail offerings, explore the gift shops and purchase these spirits directly. With the new state laws that went into effect in September, our North Carolina distilleries are excited to host you this holiday season. Cheers!

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