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 New Zealand-native liqueur gets its name from the Titoki berry, which along with kawakawa and manuka leaves give it a sweet and herbal flavor. Long employed by the Maori for medicinal properties, manuka leaves have been brewed as a tea for centuries (Captain Cook was said to drink it to prevent scurry). Ti-Toki is sold in hand-made ceramic bottles that are shaped like a "Tekoteko," a totem-like figure commonly planted atop Maori meeting rooms to ward off evil spirits. (Its ability to ward off hangovers is, alas, inconclusive.) [$68 for 500ml; ti-toki.com]