Haus Alpenz spends a lot of time sourcing traditional spirits and aromatized wines from the oddest, most out-of-the-way climes. Vermouths from the rugged Chartreuse Mountains, Arrack from the islands of Indonesia, orchard-fruit liqueurs from the Danube Valley of Austria . . . to name a few. Their latest offerings prove still more is out there, just waiting to be unearthed and brought again into the vocabulary of American libations. Some of what we picked up has been newly created, while some of it has merely been revived from the lost decades.
Kronan Swedish Punsch
Swedish Punsch has been around for centuries, and actually grew in popularity in the first few decades of the 20th Century in America. That is, until Prohibition slowed it to a halt. The Diner's Journal wrote a nice piece about it when the brand first launched.
The liqueur — which also contains rum, sugar and spices — dates from Sweden’s exploring days. “The tradition goes back to the Swedish East India Company,” [owner of Haus Alpenz Eric] Seed said. “To mollify the sailors on board the ships, they let them dive into the Batavia arrack that they brought back from the East Indies. They would mix that with sugar and maybe a touch of the spice, and that grog they called their punch.”
It's just now become available to us in Tennessee, and we jumped at the chance. Kronan drinks like something between a well-aged rum and a spicy-soft whiskey. Perfect as a fall dram or a winter warmer.
Dolin Génépy des Alpes
You know the Chambéry, France-based Maison Dolin primarily for their set of three Vermouths: Dry, Rouge and Blanc. These have become staples in every cocktail bar across the nation, loved for their added nuance in cocktails and their low price. Their latest export is a return to an even deeper tradition, a génépy recipe developed by Maison Dolin founder Joseph Chavasse in 1821. Made with wormwood flower heads and other herbs that grow plentifully in the Savoy region of France, Dolin Génépy is in effect quite similar to Chartreuse (falling somewhere between the green & the yellow versions, in terms of sweetness and bitterness) and for a fraction of the price. As usual, Dolin has affordably delivered a product of exacting quality.
Cappelletti Vino Aperitivo
Cappelletti is a wine-based aperitif, one of the oldest of its kind still in production. It came into a certain fame in WWII when Austrian troops traveling through Trentino began adding Cappelletti to the local sparkling wine. They called it a "Spritz." New to the states, this Americano Rosso strikes a great balance between light, fruity, bitter and sweet. This offering had its American debut this summer. Serious Eats had this to say:
The Americano Rosso is a treat for restaurants who have beer and wine licenses and can't make cocktails with hard booze. It's bitter enough to stand in for Campari and other bitter liqueurs, so it should provide a little extra flexibility for low-alcohol mixed drinks.
The Scarlet Ibis Trinidad Rum
Originally created specifically for the folks at the East Village bar Death & Company, The Scarlet Ibis is a "bespoke blend of three to five-year aged Trinidad rums." The different rums are chosen specifically for their virgin cane source, which come from all over the various terrains of the island nation—lush mountains, rainforests and drier rolling plains. Each geography imparts a unique quality to the cane, and so the finished product is superbly balanced and rich enough to evoke the tropics, sip after neat sip.