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Fat Guy

Best Bargains in Booze

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It seems to me that in-the-know cocktailian types have a few go-to labels when the mission is to find a high-quality liquor at a low price relative to the field. I thought it would be useful to assemble such a list.

A good example, I think, is Evan Williams black-label bourbon. At the liquor store near me it's $15.49 for a 1-liter bottle. It is surprisingly good, fully competitive with several $40-range bourbons I've tried.

What are your secret weapons in this regard?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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For flavor & versatility vs. cost, it's been hard to beat either Wild Turkey 101 or Rittenhouse 100 ryes. However, with the price of both on the upswing and the shelves sporadically empty for weeks or months at a time, I've recently passed that torch to Heaven Hill Gold Label Bourbon.


Edited by KD1191 (log)

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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Absolutely agree on the Evan Williams black label Bourbon. I can find it even cheaper, it's around $12 out here. I quite like the Jim Beam rye for around $10-15 (depending on where you can find it...). Don't neccessarily love Jim Beam Bourbon, but the rye is good, at least to my taste. Trader Joe's carries Zapopan Reposado tequila for less than $10 a bottle. Again, it's not an anejo, but in a margarita its fine. My palate is nowhere near refined or sensitive enough to taste the difference in a mixed drink, unless there's precious few other ingredients (a gin Martini comes to mind, where both the gin & vermouth should be top drawer). But to me, by the time you mix in fruit juices, other liqueurs, bitters, etc., the mid-range stuff does just fine. And has the added advantage of letting me experiment and indulge more !


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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For ryes, I'm often able to find Old Overholt at $15 or under...I've seen it in the $12 price range as well. And down in DC/MD I can also find Pikesville Rye (which some allege is the same as Rittenhouse 80) for right around $11.

For tequila mixing, you can't really go wrong with El Jimador, at around $20 a bottle.

Agree about the Evan Williams. Once again, in MD that stuff is silly cheap.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I will second the Pikesville rye as a great bargain. When I travel to MD I always buy some. The Old Overholt is good value as well.

Gordon's gin can be had in PA for around 10 bucks, and in fact, the PALCB currently has 1.75L bottles on closeout pricing if you can find it. I know this is not Gordon's from G.B. but for basic mixing I think it works well

Although not a big consumer of rum I have found the Mount Gay Barbados rum to work well and it is around 15 bucks here.


Edited by lancastermike (log)

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For an Irish Whiskry, Powers is very underatted and reasonably priced. A float of water shows off it's smooth flavor, lots of butterscotch but not too peaty if that's your thing. Their 12 year old is nice too, but more for sipping.

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Another vote for Even Williams, but Old Forester is another reasonably priced standby for me(or was, until the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board dropped it from its stores). For Irish, I drink Clontarf because it is a bit cheaper than powers and, in my view, its equal. For a blended Scotch, I like White Horse.

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Another vote for Rebel Yell... which can only be obtained below the Mason Dixon line as far as I know.

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The single malt Bowmore Legend is quite good for the price; it can still be had for under $30 per 750. It falters a bit on the finish, but the nose is very nice indeed. I've been drinking it for a while now, back when I could get it for closer to $20, but it's still a great value in my eyes.


aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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Flor de Cana 4 year old Extra Dry is usually about $12/750 ml near me and is a solid white rum. In addition to the El Dorado 12 mentioned above, it's hard to find the El Dorado 3 for much more than $15 and it's become one of my favorite mixing rums.

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Another vote for Rebel Yell... which can only be obtained below the Mason Dixon line as far as I know.

Nope ! Trader Joe's in SoCal carries it for about $10 a bottle, and yes, I like it too, when the Evan Williams isn't on special for less.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Overholt for Rye. El Jimador or Lunazul for tequila. Ron Matusalem for rum. Old-Grand dad 100 proof for bourbon. Gordon's for gin.

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Working now in a 35+ yr old cornerstone of the Austin dining scene, and change isn't easy even with all the bosses in favor of it but we did recently change the well from the Jim Beam white that's probably been there since day one, to the Old Fitzgerald BIB--at wholesale prices we can price them the same. I haven't priced the Jim Beam lately but the Old Fitzgerald retails about $16, and oh man it is a treat.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Second the Wild Turkey 101. As Rittenhouse is back on the shelves, at least in NYC, I've been stocking up.

For Cognac/brandy, which has been covered in multiple other threads, I like the Pierre Ferrand Ambre. You can sometimes find it for ~$36, which is a pretty good price for decent Cognac.


Roddy Rickhouse

Drinks Writer for Frontier Psychiatrist

http://frontpsych.com/

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The Old Fitzgerald retails about $16, and oh man it is a treat.

For some reason I can't find Old Fitz by me. Old Forester but not Old Fitzgerald and they sure aren't the same thing.

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Another mixing bourbon I really like is Old Grand Dad BIB. 22 bucks for a liter of 100 proof, high-rye bourbon.

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What are your secret weapons in this regard?

Shop in New Hampshire.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Another mixing bourbon I really like is Old Grand Dad BIB. 22 bucks for a liter of 100 proof, high-rye bourbon.

That reminds me ODG 114 is also a really good buy. I think I paid $23

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One of the best values I've come across is the seldom mentioned Ezra B. Single Barrel Bourbon. This bourbon is 12 years old, single barrel, and 99 proof . . . for $25 in PA. Name me one other bourbon that meets all those criteria at anywhere near that price. (And I'll buy it, because Ezra B. has just been de-listed in PA :angry: )

Seagram's Distillers Reserve is another good bargain gin that can hold its own with premium gins. It usually costs around $14.


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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