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5 Offbeat Drinks to Make Your Home Bar Truly Unique — Absinthe, Mezcal & More

Keeping a well-stocked bar has much to do with keeping the classics on hand, but it’s also a good idea to go rogue and stock some offbeat booze. For variety’s sake, you see? The key is to be sure these unique spirits are high quality and make great sippers, as well as conversation starters. Here are a few we recommend to get you started:

Absinthe

Not too long ago, a bottle of absinthe would have been quite the get for a home bar. Now that it’s legal (mostly), the cache is reduced a tad, but a good bottle of absinthe should still be appreciated. Absinthe is an absolute for your well-stocked bar because it’s a liquor your guests will be curious about and then actually enjoy. Vieux Pontarlier is a highly rated, classic French absinthe with the perfect green color and just the right blend of anise and wormwood.

If absinthe is old news for you, try a different take on it like Corsair’s Red Absinthe. They add citrus peel, tarragon and hibiscus to the mix giving Red a sweeter flavor and its distinctive color.

Mezcal

Everyone has that friend who will drink anything. Every party has a Mikey who will actually like it. This is why your bar — and your buddy — needs a bottle of mezcal. That’s right: the liquor with the worm in it. Mezcal is a Mexican liquor similar to tequila, also made with roasted agave, but with a much longer history. If you want the worm (which is actually a larva, but your friends will get annoyed if you correct them), you need to look for a bottle marked “con gusano.”

Unfortunately, the mezcal worm has no special, or psychotropic, properties, despite what you may have heard. It was added by marketers to mask the chemical flavor of a lower-quality spirit. It was historically eaten in Mexico, so your party’s Mikey will be totally okay. Look for brands like Ilegal, Del Maguey and Sombra. If a mezcal is priced very low, it has likely been made in a factory setting, rather than by hand, so keep your eyes open for quality.

Sake

Because we’re so used to bombing it in karaoke bars and Japanese steakhouses, we forget that sake is a delicious wine that makes an excellent complement for any Asian-inspired meal. Sake is brewed from rice in a process that is more like brewing beer than making wine.

There are so many kinds of sake that this inclusion may take some experimentation. The sake you drink warm at a restaurant is usually not the finest sake. You want a sake that tastes better chilled, although this isn’t a hard and fast rule. To start, look for a gingo or daiginjo sake. These versions use different brewing methods and end up with light, fruity flavors and fragrance that make an easy introduction to the sake world. Serve chilled and delight your dinner guests.

Pizza Beer

Not since the people at Reese’s put peanut butter and chocolate together has a food-and-drink pairing been so inevitable. If pizza and beer put a smile on your face when you’ve got one in each hand, then putting the two together into one beverage can’t be bad.

Enter Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer. Invented by an Illinois couple, this home brew boasts flavors of pizza like tomato, garlic and herbs, which are used in the brewing. The good news is that all that stuff is filtered out and you’re left with a smooth, tasty beer that’ll kill your pizza craving. You may have to search for it, but the rarity will make it all the more impressive in your bar.

VodQuila

And just when you thought beverage blends couldn’t get any better, we give you VodQuila. Not just a clever name, this is a genius mix of vodka and tequila. We’re pretty sure every one of your guests should try it at least once. It has regret written all over it, but both the vodka and the tequila are imported from the Jalisco highlands and are distilled six times. This promises great smoothness and an indescribably unique flavor in your mixed drinks.

High-quality vodka and tequila don’t cause the hangover that the cheap swill does, so your VodQuila party won’t ruin your weekend. This award-winning spirit makes great ‘tinis and ‘ritas with a twist. Your summer drinks will never be the same.

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