Distilled: The best things I drank this year

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From the December 26, 2013 edition

It’s that time when we reflect on the year that was, so here’s the five best things I drank, in no particular order, this year. I did my best to remember all the wonderful beers, cocktails, spirits, etc. I tried this year; these aren’t necessarily new products, just ones I tried in 2013. Cheers.

Old Rip Van Winkle

This 10-year bourbon from the Van Winkle distillery holds a special place in my heart (and belly). Having spent my formative (drinking) years in Kentucky I came to love bourbon. Though I’d tried a nipper in the past of the 15-year Pappy (my all-time favorite), having a bottle at home to pour a drink whenever I want — to celebrate or forget — has made my year.

Leipziger Gose

This German sour from Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof — yeah, that’s a mouthful — instantly became one of my staple pickups. It’s a tremendously refreshing beer ideal brewed with coriander and salt that’s ideal for summer. The salt adds a wonderful accent.

Del Maguey Vida

I’ve never been a big tequila fan, but when I finally tried a proper mezcal in the Del Maguey Vida I was immediately hooked. You can make a wonderful cocktail with this spirit or drink it straight up with a squeeze of lime.

Goose Island Gillian & Haida

I was lucky enough to sample all four of Goose Island’s limited release “Sisters” series of Belgian-style wild ales, and these two were my favorites. At the time, I couldn’t pick between the two but after trying both again, the Gillian has taken a slight edge. For now.

Local cocktails

I wrote about the best summer cocktails around town this year, and while I knew there were many bars and restaurants doing great things, I didn’t quite realize how great. There are at least a dozen spots making fantastic cocktails and all have dedicated experts behind the stick. Keep it up, Columbus mixologists. I’ll be checking in to make sure you don’t fall off. Nah, I know you won’t. I’ll just be in the mood for a well-made drink.