Trends in spirits come and go, but here’s one that we hope will stick: farm-to-bottle.

Mirroring the locavore food movement, small craft distilleries are making spirits from locally-grown grains. And while that doesn’t make them automatically good, the best ones deliver on the quality front too.

We love whiskey (and we know you do too) and here we’ve rounded up our favorite regionally-made bottles. Try them neat to get the full local character or mix them up in a batch of greenmarket-inspired cocktails for a true craft experience. Bonus: they make a great gift for your CSA-obsessed friends.
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We love tasting new spirits and cocktails, but at home, we like to keep a streamlined bar with only the essentials. One not-so-common bottle we will make room for, especially during the holiday season? An aperitif wine.

Here’s why: these lightly fortified wines are a ready-made cocktail – a little bit sweet, a little bit spiced, not too alcoholic, and already perfectly balanced.

The preparation is simple—serve chilled or over ice with a splash of soda—so if you’ve got unexpected company or you’d rather focus your DIY culinary energy on dinner, you’re good to go. Think about it—half-cocktail, half-wine, everybody wins. (But if you want to get fancy, go on and make up a full-on cocktail; these wines tend to make great blending partners.)
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Cozy textured sweaters. Plaid wool picnic blankets. Leaf peeping. Autumn has lots of things going for it, but one of our favorite things about early October? Peak apple season, because fresh apples mean cider, which means cider cocktails.

And while we tend to associate cider with hot spiked punch, it works equally well in an elegant chilled cocktail, such as the one below, a seasonal riff on a whiskey sour.

Here we accented the classic combination of bourbon and cider with a splash of lemon juice and ginger-infused simple syrup for some brightness and spice. This recipe is super simple and easily scalable, so it works if you’re making one for yourself or a big batch for a party.
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We’re living in the golden age of bourbon. There’s a wealth of new craft labels making appearances on store shelves and more appearing every day. But how do you choose between them when there’s so many great ones? Learning a few key terms will help you understand how the different styles break down so you can hone in on the bottles that suit you best.

By law, Bourbon must be made from at least 51 percent corn, but the rest can be almost anything—bourbon, wheat, rye or more corn. The ratio of these supplemental grains can have a subtle effect on the flavor.

Bourbon aficionados have unofficial terms for these styles: traditional, high rye, high corn, and wheated. Experiment with one you think you would like or gather an example from all four for a comparative tasting.
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Thinking about serving a bourbon-based cocktail at your next fête? Try these super easy bourbon-maple candied pecans as a bar snack.

The rules of spirits and food pairing can get complex—and get even more so once you add in cocktails. (Look for lots more to come on this topic!) One easy way to think about it, though: serve a dish that you would consider making with the alcohol in question.

For example, bourbon’s sweet caramel-vanilla character that it gets from aging in oak barrels makes it a natural partner with both pecans (think: bourbon pecan pie) and maple syrup. Here we make a bourbon-maple coating for pecans and roast them in the oven for a nice crunch.
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