High-Proof Alcohol Creates Better Cocktails

High octane spirits; good for drinking and more

Your suspicion that your drinking tolerance has decreased recently might be right.

Within the last decade, there's been a market-wide push toward alcohols with higher proofs, upping the chances that your cocktail has been packing a stronger punch.

These high-octane spirits are called "cask strength," "overproof," or, in the case of gin, "navy strength." Each exceeds the industry standard of 80 proof.

Though this may shift may seem like a recipe for a massive headache, many bartenders argue that these overproof elixirs create better cocktails. Regular spirits are diluted with water after distillation, while overproof versions are bottled directly from the still or barrel. So these spirits retain more of their essential flavors. (The ethanol created during distillation acts as flypaper to fatty oils, preserving the distinct taste of a spirit.)

We've collected our favorite overproof spirits here, which range from a rare, highly sought-after bourbon to a new group of gins. They offer exciting new drinking dimensions. But exercise caution: We often decrease the proportions used in a cocktail by a quarter to a half ounce. See our versatile cocktail recipe here, which is calibrated specifically for the strong stuff and works with almost every spirit we've thrown at it.

Now we all can be cheap dates.