One For The Road
If you’ve found your Dry January extending into the spring (or picking back up back after an intermission), a newly opened shop in Manattan’s Lower East Side has you covered. Spirited Away, opened in November, is the city’s first zero proof bottle store and stocks a range of booze-free beers, bitters, spirits, and gifts. This includes Athletic Brewing’s now-famous lineup of non-alcoholic beers (its Run Wild IPA is worthwhile drinking for any beer fan) and NYC’s own Rasasvada, a botanical zero-proof spirit that has made health news headlines. The non-alcoholic spirits market is growing rapidly, attracting those who enjoy the complexity and rituals of cocktail drinking without the kick, and shops like Spirited Away are rapidly legitimizing the trend.

Rochester’s Black Button Distilling is no stranger to milestones: It was the first grain-to-glass distillery in its home city, and celebrated its two millionth bottle in February. Though the distillery has been around since 2012, it’s made headlines in the past year for the team’s support of the local community during the pandemic, and in fact, the business has only grown in the past year. Its Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey has long been a winner, featuring corn, wheat, rye, and malted barley grown in New York State. But, almost ten years in, the distillers consistently surprise with gins, moonshine, and even coffee liqueur. New York is second in the country in terms of number of distillers, and in such a crowded fi eld, sticking around counts for something. Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey retails for $50,

Named after Mexico City’s central square, the CAO Zócalo was an instant hit upon its release in 2018, marking the first time the brand released a cigar with a Mexican wrapper. Flash forward three years and CAO has promoted the Zócalo to a regular production cigar line, while indulging customer requests for a wider variety of sizes. The original was a 6-inch by 60 ring gauge (a large stogie by any measure) and the new Zócalo is available in a Robusto (5 by 52) and Toro (6 by 50). Underneath the Mexican Morron cover leaf is a Cameroon binder and all-Nicaraguan filter combining for an even burn with notes of hickory and mesquite. This news is an excellent reminder that sometimes in the cigar industry, you get what you ask for. Toro starting at $8.49,

Pirates, sailors the old trappings of rum branding are a thing of yesteryear. Kasama, a new small-batch rum operation and the brainchild of Alexandra Dorda, pays ample tribute to her FilipinoPolish heritage. Labeled a golden rum, Kasama ditches the over spiced sweetness of typical dark varieties, presenting a smoother profile with notes of pineapple and vanilla. It’s aged seven years in ex-bourbon American oak barrels and designed to be sipped or mixed, unlike many rums on the market, which tend to get automatically buried in syrupy concoctions. Kasama is the Filipino word for “together,” and that influence is all over the bottle: drawings of native plants and a flag decal. With warm weather around the corner, rum season is on the way time to stock up. $29.99,

Light Up With Purpose
Cigar importing is a complicated business, which makes it all the more exciting that as of February a new cigar destination has been put on the map: the Cayman Islands. Cayman Cigar Company, the first cigar production company on the island, has been around since 2018 with the unique mission of donating 100% of net profits to charity. A textbook boutique cigar maker, Cayman Cigar Company specializes in the details: hand-rolled cigars and sustainable farming with an eventual goal of growing all its tobacco on the island. Corona, Robusto, and Monarch sizes are available in small packs, perfect for sampling. For many cigar fans, smoking is a form of travel, of sampling the flavors of the world, so we’re happy to report a new destination has arrived. Two packs starting at $50,