We all have that dust-covered bottle of mystery booze lingering at the back of a cabinet – the one with the kooky animal shape perhaps, or syrupy day-glo fluid. Most of us tend to dismiss such curiosities out of hand as mere gimmicks (may we suggest a sip of Cinnabon vodka?). Yet there's a big wonderful, or at the very least interesting, world beyond the usual and safe vodka-gin-whiskey-tequila club most of us cling to. Here are a dozen of the most intriguing or exotic concoctions we've seen from across the globe that you can actually buy and try yourself.
From the Maltese isle of Gozo, this red-hued liqueur is brewed from the native prickly pears, or Opuntia, that grow all over the place. The prickly pear is highly regarded for its medicinal properties and its antioxidants – Maltans use it to treat inflammation, stomach problems, and even bee stings. It has a sweet and flowery flavor that might be compared with a watermelon, and so is perfectly matched with vodka, tequila, and other clear spirits; mixed with red or white wine it makes a stellar sangria. [$20 for 700 ml; bajtra.com]