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Five Underrated Spirits

It's not all vodka out there. As mixologists keep reminding their customers, there are all sorts of interesting spirits to fuel happy hours. Here, City of Ate presents five still-underrated alcoholic drinks:

Canadian whiskey

Whiskey connoisseurs have a bad habit of scoffing at Canadian whiskey, Americans' drink of choice during Prohibition. That's probably because the rye-based drink is blended - and because some distillers north of the border don't do a very good job. Yet a good Canadian whiskey is light, soft and even complex: Nothing pairs better with a Nanaimo bar.

Homemade brandy

There's a misconception that mountaineers all make corn liquor. Not so: Most Appalachian dwellers with a taste for homemade alcohol prefer to ferment their own fresh fruit brandies. The best brandies are sweet, delicate and terrifically potent.

Coffee tequila

Patron has gone to the trouble of bottling coffee tequila, but the liquid dessert's just as good when infused at home. Made correctly, coffee tequila is sleek, dry and dangerously easy to drink.

Aperol

Aperol, an almost century-old aperitif, is very much like a light version of Campari. It's orangey, bitter and a tad herbaceous. And it's only 11 percent alcohol, so it's a fine drink with which to open the evening. Mixologists who like the stuff tend to mix it with Prosecco in the summertime.

Soju

Fans of soju, a traditional Korean drink, don't much care if the beverage is distilled from rice, sweet potatoes, barley or tapioca, so long as it gets them drunk: Some sojus are nearly 50 percent alcohol. But upscale soju producers, more interested in taste than tipsiness, are now championing smooth, single-grain brands that don't have to be swallowed in "one shot!", as the standard Korean toast goes.

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