If you’re due for a trip to the liquor store, we’ve got some items for your list: two artisan spirits from the socially conscious, forward-thinking Philadelphia Distilling, the same folks who brought us Bluecoat American Dry Gin in 2006. Shaken or stirred, Pennsylvania Distilling’s Penn 1681 Vodka is well worth a spot in your freezer. Smooth, crisp, clean, 190 proof and a bargain at $20, it rises above other bargain brands with a flavor profile that avoids harsh, perfume-y undertones. Crafted with organic rye grain grown in Lancaster, York, Lehigh and Somerset counties, along with other indigenous ingredients, Penn 1681 celebrates the birth and agricultural history of the Commonwealth—and one of its leading crops during the Colonial era.
Pennsylvania Distilling’s Vieux CarrÃ© Absinthe Superieure is a nod to master distiller Robert Cassell’s appreciation for history and ritual. The first legal absinthe to be made from scratch and sold on the East Coast in nearly a century, this fragrant elixir blends natural herbs—star anise, hyssop and spearmint—with wormwood (the notorious ingredient thought to have narcotic powers) for a unique sipping experience that will no doubt take the edge off. And forget the sugar and fancy spoon: The best way to enjoy Vieux CarrÃ©’s herbal complexities is in a pretty glass diluted with chilled water.