Byrrh's Aromatized Wines

Beefed-up wine equals better cocktails

It sometimes seems as though whiskey and gin have the bartending world in a vise grip.

The true starlet of the cocktail renaissance, though, has been wine–specifically, aromatized and fortified wines. And the latest to hit the market is Byrrh ($24; click here to buy), which is available again in the States for the first time in more than a decade.

The recent boom in superb vermouths and quinquinas (a genre in which wine is flavored with cinchona bark) has turned good cocktails such as the Manhattan, Negroni and Martinez into great ones. And Byrrh is set to add to this higher state of vermouth-based drinks.

Using a revived recipe made with red wine from the Languedoc region of France, Byrrh has complex flavors of coffee and bitter orange and a notable sweetness. Yet it's made so well that the fortified wine is delicious even when served simply with a twist.

Wine, meet rocks glass.