Pistol in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor famously claims, “the world’s mine oyster.” The metaphor has been used countless times since, but on the topic of oysters themselves, all are not created equal. An exceptional oyster is one that delivers a strong sense of the place from which it came. When slurping down the right bivalves, oyster connoisseurs—armed with little more than oyster forks and lemon wedges—can not only taste the surf but almost feel the sea breeze and hear the gentle ringing of buoy bells. At this moment, the right spirit can make all the difference. Here are some of our suggestions for a spirited odyssey on the half shell:
The Oyster: Carlsbad Del Sol (Southern California & Mexico)
The Spirit: Tequila Clase Azul Plata
Why It Works: The Carisbad Del Sol is a perpetually sweet, full-flavored oyster, which connects with the natural agave sweetness of the tequila. A dozen chilled Carisbad Del Sols with equally cold Clase Azul Plata is our idea of the perfect Mexican retreat, especially if you can enjoy them on a hammock in Los Cabos.
The Oyster: Spring Creek (Barnstable, Mass.)
The Spirit: Beluga Gold Line vodka
Why It Works: These savory oysters from Barnstable Bay require an equally savory (and luxurious) vodka. It’s hard to top Beluga’s soft and creamy Gold Line, distilled from Siberian grain and naturally purified artesian water. There’s a reason this Russian vodka continues to win awards (including Robb Report’s Best of the Best earlier this year).
The Oyster: Blue Point (Copps Island, Conn., and Long Island, N.Y.)
The Spirit: Reyka vodka
Why It Works: Most spirits would overpower the subtle nuances of a Blue Point, but this Icelandic vodka delivers a crispness that balances those light flavors. Blue Points are known to be delicate oysters; in a world dominated by strong spirits, Reyka is one of the few that lets them shine.
The Oyster: Beausoleil (New Brunswick, Canada)
The Spirit: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne
Why It Works: Yes, we know: Champagne and oysters would seem an obvious pairing, and in most cases, it is. However, the extreme brininess of a Beausoleil won’t gel with every sparkling appellation. Billecart-Salmon’s Brut Rosé rises to the top thanks to its silky finish.
The Oyster: Kumamoto (Puget Sound, Wash., and Humboldt Bay, Calif.)
The Spirit: Kitaya Junmai Ginjo sake
Why It Works: Kumamotos are all the rage in California due to their clean and subtle fruity taste. Kitaya Junmai Ginjo not only pairs well with the tiny oysters thanks to its fruit-forward flavor but also pays homage to the bivalves’ Japanese origin.
The Oyster: Moonstone (Narragansett, R.I.)
The Spirit: The Balvenie DoubleWood
Why It Works: We know what you’re probably asking yourself, and the answer is yes: Oysters and single malts can live in harmony. A scotch with peaty overtones pairs well with oysters like the Moonstone, which is rich in seaweed flavor. And while there are plenty of options to choose from, The Balvenie’s DoubleWood delivers just the right amount of peat, with a smoothness that rivals the oyster itself.