10 Organic Liquors

10 Organic Liquors

CHOW’s media blog reported on the ecococktail trend in June, and the movement is still going strong, from the seasonal “Green Cocktail” list at San Francisco’s Elixir to the martinis mixed with organic vodka at New York’s Counter Organic Wine & Martini Bar and Vegetarian Bistro. Why buy organic hooch? For the same reasons you’d buy organic food: to avoid additives and artificial stuff, and to help promote sustainable farming and environmentally friendly packaging. Or just because it tastes good. Either way, here are 10 organic liquors for your home bar.

1. Square One Cucumber Vodka. Square One helped pioneer organic hard-alcohol production when it released a vodka made with certified organic American-grown rye in 2006. This summer, the company put out a version infused with organic cucumbers. Try substituting it for Hendrick’s Gin in cocktails like the Chunnel, which also uses Meyer lemon juice and elderflower liqueur.

2. 4 Copas Blanco Tequila. CHOW’s Juice columnist, Jordan Mackay, likes this 100 percent agave tequila. Try the blanco in an organic version of the Perfect Margarita. The company also makes añejo, reposado, and special-release tequilas—including an añejo packaged in a pretty bottle decorated with a sea turtle, with all proceeds donated to sea turtle conservation.

3. Loft Organic Liqueurs. Loft liqueurs are made in the style of limoncello (which is to say, they’re sweetened infused grain spirits), and come in lavender, ginger, and lemongrass flavors. They’re sweetened with agave nectar and a small amount of sugar, and the Lemongrass Cello uses biodynamically grown lemongrass. Try mixing the Lavender Cello with gin, or enjoy the Spicy Ginger Cello straight over ice, and skip dessert.

4. Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals. Del Maguey makes “single village” mezcals; each is named for the town in which it’s produced. The company claims to have always made its spirits organically, but it began the certification process in 2007.

5. Rain Organics Vodka. This stuff comes in a cheesy-looking bottle, but that didn’t stop it from earning a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition this year. It’s made from 100 percent organic white corn sourced from a single farm in Illinois and distilled in Kentucky.

6. Papagayo Organic Rums. Papagayo’s rums (available in white or spiced) are made in Paraguay from sugarcane grown on small family farms. Both rums earned bronze awards at the third annual Polished Palate International Rum Festival this year.

7. Délice d’Orange Roland Seguin Cognac. It’s hard to find a U.S. source for Roland Seguin’s Cognacs infused with organic fruit, like this version flavored with oranges, but you can order them online from the United Kingdom. The company also makes coffee and black currant varieties.

8. Benromach Organic Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky. For fans of amber liquors, the organic options are slim. This single malt made in Speyside’s smallest working distillery is one of the few. It’s casked in virgin oak, which gives reviewers mixed feelings. Dave Broom and Arthur Motley reviewed it for Whisky Magazine: Broom said it had lots of oak and was “not balanced,” while Motley said it was “the first new oak malt that has worked for me.”

9. Juniper Green Organic London Dry Gin. This gin is made in London with juniper berries, coriander, angelica root, and savory. In this year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition it earned a bronze award. Try it in one of CHOW’s gin cocktails.

10. Prairie Organic Vodka. Yet another organic vodka, Prairie is made in Minnesota, and stands out because the farmers who grow the corn for it also own the distillery, converting the leftover corncobs and other biomass into biogas to power the stills. Mix it into one of CHOW’s vodka cocktails.

CHOW’s The Ten column appears every Tuesday.

Roxanne Webber is an associate editor at CHOW.