Some view the proliferation of flavored spirits as either one-upmanship between producers or a cheap pandering ploy to gain market share. However, mixologists and home bartenders alike tend to see these products as tools to inspire new cocktails and endless modifications to classic recipes. Here are innovative new items from 5 iconic brands, along with a few recipes to inspire.
Cîroc Pineapple Vodka
When Diddy announced the newest addition to Cîroc’s lineup midway through 2014, social media exploded. Bartenders, beverage managers and beverage stewards were inundated with release date inquiries for months. Rumors of bars that were pouring Cîroc Pineapple were spread across cities in excited, hushed tones. The great news is that the latest flavor of this eau de vie vodka has lived up to the expectations generated by the hype machine. The aroma and flavor of Cîroc Pineapple immediately conjures images of juicy, ripe, fresh fruit with a hint of vanilla. The lush fruit flavor – free of the overbearing, synthetic taste that plagues many inferior flavored spirits – is smooth on the palate. The silky texture of Cîroc vodkas is due to their unique production: Ugni blanc grapes from Cognac, France is distilled 4 times in column stills and mauzac blanc grapes from Gaillac, France are distilled 4 times in copper pot stills. They are then blended together and distilled in alembic stills.
Try this refreshing, lighter take on the traditional piña colada. Combine 1.5 ounces Cîroc Pineapple, 1 ounce coconut water, half-ounce lime juice and half-ounce simple syrup in a shaker. Shake well and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Finish with a splash of club soda and a lime wedge.
Smirnoff Sours Vodkas
Tart. Tangy. Sour. Not exactly the descriptors that one normally uses when discussing vodka. Nevertheless, good ol’ No. 21 receives an innovative breath of fresh air (3 breaths, actually) with Smirnoff Sours. The lineup features Green Apple, Watermelon and Fruit Punch flavors meant to be exciting and fun. Serve cold in a shot glass and try your best to not make a sour face [Pro tip: You will fail.]. Or, try one of the following recipes, best suited to those who enjoy such drinks as sake bombs or depth charges.
Sour Captain Drop
Combine 1 ounce Smirnoff Sours Green Apple and half-ounce Captain Morgan Spiced Rum in a shot glass. Drop into a glass containing 8 ounces of energy drink.
Sour Depth Charge
Fill a shot glass with Smirnoff Sours Watermelon and drop into a pint of light lager.
Sour Berry Drop
Combine half-ounce Smirnoff Sours Fruit Punch and half-ounce cranberry juice in a shot glass. Drop into a glass containing 8 ounces of energy drink.
Tanqueray Rangpur Gin
Anyone who knows gin knows Tanqueray’s classic flavor profile: juniper, coriander, ginger and bay leaves. Tanqueray has now added a rare lime to their legendary recipe: the Rangpur. The Rangpur is actually not a lime but a hybrid of a mandarin orange or mandarin tangerine and a lemon. This same fruit is called the Canton lemon in China. The Rangpur, orange in color and highly acidic, offers up a truly inventive take on gin, pairing well with all sorts of botanicals and other fruits. The nose may suggest overpowering citrus flavor but Tanqueray Rangpur is quite balanced on the palate with a dry finish featuring a hint of lemon. Refreshing neat but perfect in a strong G&T, Gimlet or Tom Collins.
Tanqueray Rangpur Gin & Juice
In a shaker, combine 1.25 ounces of Tanqueray Rangpur, 2 ounces fresh orange juice, 2 ounces fresh pineapple juice and ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach Liqueur
The famous combination of fine, smooth cognac and orange essence, otherwise known as Grand Marnier, has received a fantastic facelift. The liqueur has now been combined with European raspberries and rare French red peaches for No.2 in Grand Marnier’s Signature Collection. The result is a wonderful citrus aroma and a sophisticated two-part finish, first of raspberry and then of peach. This liqueur can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, as an ingredient to create a variant of classic cocktails or as a topper in a glass of bubbly. Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach can also be drizzled on top of desserts or added to a cup of coffee. A truly versatile liqueur from an iconic producer.
Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach 75
To make this modern spin on the classic French 75 champagne cocktail created by mixologist George Carney (which we’ve discussed before), combine 1 ounce Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach, half-ounce fresh lemon juice, half-ounce simple syrup and ice in a shaker. Shake ingredients well and pour into a flute. Top with sparkling wine, in particular Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut or, to take it to the next level, Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial. Express and garnish with lemon twist.
Crown Royal Regal Apple Whisky
Vodka isn’t the only spirit being given the flavor treatment. Fireball and Jim Beam infused whiskey with cinnamon. Crown Royal came to the flavor party with maple. Paddy’s brought Irish whiskey, cinnamon and apple together. And now Crown Royal is back at it with Regal Apple. The aroma is strong on apple with hints of cinnamon of oak while the flavored whiskey gives way to hints of cloves and cinnamon on the palate.
Crown Royal Candy Apple
Combine 1 ounce Crown Royal Regal Apple, half-ounce Crown Royal Maple Finished and ice in a shaker. Shake and strain into a shot glass.