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.
This 30-percent ABV Dominican mashup, a staple for centuries, is made of rum, red wine, and honey that is mixed with tree bark, sticks, and various herbs and then aged in bottles or casks. Like so many other spirits, it's purported to have medicinal and/or aphrodisiacal qualities. (And despite the temptation to attribute its name to a cousin Mary reference, it actually comes from a corruption of the demijohn bottles used to brew it.) The flavor is sweet with hints of wood and herbs and it can be sipped neat or seamlessly added to the ingredients of a mojito or Bloody Mary. [$15 for 750ml; kalembu.com]