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Cheap for Mixing/Expensive for Sipping?


mbanu
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A caipirinha or pisco sour demands the cheap stuff--it's the funky flavors that make the drink.

And I suspect we all agree that the brand of vodka one chooses is irrelevant, as long as it's ethyl, and not methyl, alcohol.

i use the worst spirits i possibly can find...and mix it back to beauty.

when somebody asks me what kind of gin i want i say the "bath tub" stuff....

the best cocktail brandy out there is deville....

best gin is usually gordons

and the best rye is overholt....

spirits that are not balanced on their own are best for cocktails...(so you can balance them with bitters and beautiful sours)

and when your drinks are profitable enough you can buy some rounds for your friends without killing the numbers....

i also adulterate everything and admit to it....

I turn overholt into "african rye whiskey" with certain rare flowers that i've come across....they give a character like pipe tobacco.... then i use every trick in the book to synthesize 10 years of oak aging in three and a half days....

next week i'm going to turn bacardi silver into bacardi eight year with old "deceitful" liquor making techniques.... i'm going to embrace the deceit and use it in a version of the "old cuban"....

jerry thomas used parts of the technique in the "bonvivants companion" i won't say where....

i also fell in love with "missippi punch" after reading about it in the "cocktail chronicles".... so many of the old recipes called from whiskey, rum, and cognac that i just started mixing them to taste and "letting them fight it out in the glass"... results are very encouraging. its my new well pour when i need some brown stuff.

cheers!

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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i use the worst spirits i possibly can find...and mix it back to beauty.

when somebody asks me what kind of gin i want i say the "bath tub" stuff....

the best cocktail brandy out there is deville....

best gin is usually gordons

and the best rye is overholt....

spirits that are not balanced on their own are best for cocktails...(so you can balance them with bitters and beautiful sours)

In what world are Gordon's and Old Overholt considered bad, unbalanced spirits? In my circles, they are considered absolutely first-rate spirits. If they made higher proof versions (say, 95 proof Gordon's and 100 proof Old Overholt), I'd probably use them both as my primary brands -- and I wouldn't be alone.

I'm not really aware of any truly deplorable rye bottling. Probably Jim Beam rye occupies the lowest rung of that ladder, but even that is pretty good. As for gin, you've got to go a long way down from Gordon's before you get near the bottom. I'd like to see you make an outstanding Martini or Aviation with, say, Llord's Gin.

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In what world are Gordon's and Old Overholt considered bad, unbalanced spirits?  In my circles, they are considered absolutely first-rate spirits.  If they made higher proof versions (say, 95 proof Gordon's and 100 proof Old Overholt), I'd probably use them both as my primary brands -- and I wouldn't be alone.

i consider them first rate. but that is contrary to the average perception you find out in the world....so i sorta try to embrace their relative position in the liquor world. i've been called a good mixologist for making gordon's taste so good but its really just that gordon's has an unfair negative perception for being cheap when it is really a pretty solid product. only a few people are in the know....

too many people think that price means quality and you shouldn't gamble with a hang over in the morning or be seen sipping a lesser brand. i try and remove that effect by not letting people know what they are drinking when its in a cocktail... just call it london dry...

in ever liquor category there are stunning spirits for around 15 a liter.

i'm nominating laird's applejack as the best cheap liquor ever made. its my secret weapon. i just infused it with chamomile and mixed it with a little manzanilla....the chamomile i known to cure the delerium tremons...

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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too many people think that price means quality and you shouldn't gamble with a hang over in the morning or be seen sipping a lesser brand.

A lot of this, I believe, stems from the vodka marketing campaigns that associate price and a fancy bottle with prestige and quality. But, if this thread is about anything, it's about the fact that price doesn't always equal the best quality when it comes to cocktails. Rather, it's about determining the right price point for cocktails. I wouldn't use Rittenhouse 21 (at $150 a bottle) in making a Brooklyn Cocktail. On the other hand, the dramatic quality difference between using Rittenhouse Bonded and Jim Beam Rye more than makes up for the trifling $3-per-bottle price difference.

in ever liquor category there are stunning spirits for around 15 a liter.

i'm nominating laird's applejack as the best cheap liquor ever made.

Then again, as I mention upthread, the quality difference between Laird's Applejack (80 proof and blended with only around 30% apple brandy) and Laird's Bonded (100 proof and 100% apple brandy) is so striking and obvious that it makes the roughly $4-per-bottle price difference a no-brainer. This is perhaps the largest four dollar jump in quality in spirits.

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A caipirinha or pisco sour demands the cheap stuff--it's the funky flavors that make the drink.

Having made many of these in my time, I'd have to disagree. A caipirinha made with Fazenda Mae de Ouro is about fifty times better than one made with Pitu (and for not that much more money per bottle either, in absolute terms). Likewise, I think that Pisco sours showcase a great deal of the Pisco flavor, and a really cheap bottle is going to taste harsh, not "funk[ily] flavor[ful]."
Then again, as I mention upthread, the quality difference between Laird's Applejack (80 proof and blended with only around 30% apple brandy) and Laird's Bonded (100 proof and 100% apple brandy) is so striking and obvious that it makes the roughly $4-per-bottle price difference a no-brainer. This is perhaps the largest four dollar jump in quality in spirits.

I might have to disagree with that too. (Contrarian I am today!) I keep both around for drinks, because I actually tend to think the bonded packs a bit too much oomph for certain cocktails. The Jack Rose? No question; the bonded's edge is practically required to balance the drink correctly, and its assertiveness is nicely showcased. For various other cocktails (especially for substituting applejack for VSOP calvados in, say, a Tantris sidecar) I find that the regular bottling works better.

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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A caipirinha or pisco sour demands the cheap stuff--it's the funky flavors that make the drink.

Having made many of these in my time, I'd have to disagree. A caipirinha made with Fazenda Mae de Ouro is about fifty times better than one made with Pitu (and for not that much more money per bottle either, in absolute terms).

Not that much more money per bottle? Pitu is something like 13 bucks for a liter. Fazenda Mae de Ouro is something like 28 bucks a liter. That's a pretty big difference in my book. Now, I do agree that MdO is far superior, and that Pitu is pretty rank. I'd love to do a side-by-side tasting of caipirinhas made with $28/liter MdO and $15/liter Velho Barreiro to see if there really is a 13 dollar difference.

In my book, anything up to 5 bucks a liter is a small enough difference that it really doesn't make sense not to spend more money if the more expensive spirit is higher in quality. Anything over a $10/liter price difference, and I'll do some serious thinking about whether the difference in quality is worth the difference in price in the context of the cocktails I am likely to make. This consideration is, obviously, also affected by absolute price below a certain price point. I am not likely to think twice about buying a 17 dollar bottle of whiskey over a 6 dollar bottle of whiskey. But I am likely to think twice about buying a 28 dollar bottle of whiskey over a 17 dollar bottle of whiskey, if the 17 dollar bottle is already pretty good.

Then again, as I mention upthread, the quality difference between Laird's Applejack (80 proof and blended with only around 30% apple brandy) and Laird's Bonded (100 proof and 100% apple brandy) is so striking and obvious that it makes the roughly $4-per-bottle price difference a no-brainer. This is perhaps the largest four dollar jump in quality in spirits.

I might have to disagree with that too. (Contrarian I am today!) I keep both around for drinks, because I actually tend to think the bonded packs a bit too much oomph for certain cocktails. The Jack Rose? No question; the bonded's edge is practically required to balance the drink correctly, and its assertiveness is nicely showcased. For various other cocktails (especially for substituting applejack for VSOP calvados in, say, a Tantris sidecar) I find that the regular bottling works better.

Hmm. I can think of very few applications for which I would prefer the blended Laird's, and fewer still I couldn't do a little better than blended by tempering some bonded applejack with vodka. As for your Tantris Sidecar example, that makes some sense to me. But that's because this particular cocktail really needs the suave cognac-like smoothness of calvados instead of the rough whiskey-like bite of applejack. By going with the blended Laird's, you're dialing way back on applejack's whiskey tendencies. So it's a better fit in that regard. But, you're also losing out on a lot of apple flavor. Neither one is a very good solution, IMO. To my mind, it's use calvados or just don't make the Tantris Sidecar.

I'm curious as to what other cocktails you like better with blended Lairds?

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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A bartender dictated by the rule of thumb forgets that he has nine other unused fingers.

Drinks are a matter of balance first and formost. Obviously the base spirit is a predominent component in the building of the drink. Too mix something because it is cheap is as foolish as not mixing something because its deemed expensive. Flavor profile has a much greater impact on the end result (the cocktail) than that of price point.

Just like life itself what we have is still the never ending search for the happiest medium.

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Not that much more money per bottle?  Pitu is something like 13 bucks for a liter.  Fazenda Mae de Ouro is something like 28 bucks a liter.  That's a pretty big difference in my book.  Now, I do agree that MdO is far superior, and that Pitu is pretty rank.  I'd love to do a side-by-side tasting of caipirinhas made with $28/liter MdO and $15/liter Velho Barreiro to see if there really is a 13 dollar difference.
My point was that you're looking at a total $15 spread between the *low* end of the spectrum and the high end, which in my book is not much. Compare that with the options for making a Manhattan, a sidecar, a sazerac... the list goes on.
Hmm.  I can think of very few applications for which I would prefer the blended Laird's, and fewer still I couldn't do a little better than blended by tempering some bonded applejack with vodka.  As for your Tantris Sidecar example, that makes some sense to me.  But that's because this particular cocktail really needs the suave cognac-like smoothness of calvados instead of the rough whiskey-like bite of applejack.  By going with the blended Laird's, you're dialing way back on applejack's whiskey tendencies.  So it's a better fit in that regard.  But, you're also losing out on a lot of apple flavor.  Neither one is a very good solution, IMO.  To my mind, it's use calvados or just don't make the Tantris Sidecar.

I'm curious as to what other cocktails you like better with blended Lairds?

Tempering the blended Lairds with vodka is something I actually hadn't thought of, so I may have to revise my statement after trying that tonight!

That said, the reason for the calvados substitution is that I don't have the budget to keep around an enormous bar, and a bottle of Laird's (either version) is a heck of a lot cheaper than a bottle of decent calvados.

Also, I don't quite agree with you about the bonded's flavor profile vs. the regular's. IMHO, Laird's bonded is certainly more "whiskey-like" but not really more "apple-tasting" than the regular. Whiskey-like isn't always an accent that one wants in an apple brandy, whereas Laird's regular, being smoother, has worked out better for many of the apple-based cocktails (mostly homebrews) that I've made. For instance, the bonded was simply too rough for the applejack/Pimm's No.3/lemon juice/maple syrup/five-spice cocktail I put together for Thanksgiving; a few of the Flatiron Lounge house cocktails that I've ripped off use Laird's regular as well (like me, they keep both regular and bonded behind the bar and use them for different applications).

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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My point was that you're looking at a total $15 spread between the *low* end of the spectrum and the high end, which in my book is not much. Compare that with the options for making a Manhattan, a sidecar, a sazerac... the list goes on.

Hmm. That's true, I guess. Although I'd argue that rye and cognac have much wider applicability in cocktails compared to cachaca. I also don't think it makes much sense to make a Manhattan or Sazerac with, e.g., Rittenhouse 21 except as a "once in a blue moon" special treat. They're awesome, but not that much better than the same drink made with the regular bonded version.

the reason for the calvados substitution is that I don't have the budget to keep around an enormous bar, and a bottle of Laird's (either version) is a heck of a lot cheaper than a bottle of decent calvados.

If you're interested, you can get a bottle or Busnel, which is the calvados with which Audrey created the drink, for around 25 bucks.

Also, I don't quite agree with you about the bonded's flavor profile vs. the regular's. IMHO, Laird's bonded is certainly more "whiskey-like" but not really more "apple-tasting" than the regular.

Hmm. I think it has a whole lot more "applejack flavor," which I suppose isn't quite the same thing as "apple flavor." But there is unquestionably a huge difference in intensity of flavor between the two.

Anyway, I'd be interested to see how you think the bonded applejack shows in your typical blended applejack cocktails if you make your own "blended" by using half bonded applejack and half vodka.

...a few of the Flatiron Lounge house cocktails that I've ripped off use Laird's regular as well (like me, they keep both regular and bonded behind the bar and use them for different applications).

Yea. Most of those ones, if I am not mistaken, were formulated back in the days when you could only get the blended version. They work great, so no reason to reformulate. But I wonder how many people with access to both are developing new recipes with the blended stuff. I know that back when I was playing "Johnny Bonded Applejack-Seed" and giving out bottles of the then-unavailable bonded stuff to my NYC 'tender friends, they tended to disappear in very short order.

This is not to say, of course, that there aren't any possible applications where the milder blended stuff isn't better. Similarly, I prefer the less emphatic profile of Old Overholt over Rittenhouse bonded in certain cocktails. But I guess I just love bonded applejack so much I've never had a cocktail with blended that I wouldn't prefer with bonded. :smile:

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I think the blended may be a better choice for people who might not normally drink brown spirits, since it has a much lighter flavor and the apple-ness is much more up-front. We finally got a bottle of the blended at work yesterday (good luck finding bonded in this town; I have to go to Houston for it) and one of the other bartenders wanted to taste it neat for some reason, which we did. She actually enjoyed it, and she is definitely in the vodka/redbull/tequila shots crowd. So while I rarely use the stuff at home I think this blended stuff and Jack Roses made with it could be a nice "gateway drug" to get people to drink brown spirits, and eventually there may be a demand for the bonded.

Sort of like the way the first whisky I drank was Crown Royal, and now I drink more straight rye than all other whisk(e)ys put together.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Then again, as I mention upthread, the quality difference between Laird's Applejack (80 proof and blended with only around 30% apple brandy) and Laird's Bonded (100 proof and 100% apple brandy) is so striking and obvious that it makes the roughly $4-per-bottle price difference a no-brainer.  This is perhaps the largest four dollar jump in quality in spirits.

i thought i knew my booze but i did not know of this bonded apple jack... i must posess some! good looking out....!

to sorta illustrate my philosophy...

i used to be into booze and drink it straight or in simple cocktails like manhattans... then i started to think that so much of it must be adulterated sorta like gin... what you thought was grains, oak, time and blending wasn't always.... and i found lots of historical evidence to prove it.... i still love spirits adulterated or not but this shifted my interests back to mixology....

i will drink a vieux carre over a simple manhattan any day of the week....

i used to drink my expensive manhattans and savor that stunning spicy rye....

now i savor my vieux carre carefully mixed (with cheap booze) and marvel at the way it rolls across my tongue. each extra delicate ingredient and there are many....takes up wonderful flavor realestate on your tongue.... and i can make five of them for the price of my former manhattan.

i love how one dash too many of peychaud's and a vieux carre can crumble...that is mixing on the edge!

i've always wondered about the quality that jerry thomas had to work with...they probably had one brand of each and that is why they blended whiskey, cognac, and jamaican rum....

a challenge to some spirits historians that like booze.... i've been looking for the earliest example of sophisticated tasting notes in a book on drinks.... i've combed through harvards culinary library for quite a while. i have not found much. i know people have taken cocktails seriously for 150 years but we now may take the booze that goes into them too seriously and have lost our mixing ingenuity.

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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[...]

in ever liquor category there are stunning spirits for around 15 a liter.

[...]

I like this idea in principle; but, in practice, don't find it to be true for every state or country.

There are still plenty of great rums, gins, bourbons and ryes available around that price, if you shop wisely and don't get sucked in by advertising hype or packaging. Well, plus vodka, if there is such thing as a great vodka ( :raz: ).

But, I'll use Rittenhouse for an example. Binny's (in IL) charges $11.99 a bottle for the bonded Rittenhouse. If you can find it in CA, it is usually $20-25.

It's still a great whiskey for $25; but, it's not quite as great a whiskey as it is for $12!

And there are some categories where you just aren't going to find a good example of the spirit for $25. The easiest examples I can think of are the ones I gave above, 100% Agave Tequilas and Absinthes.

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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Speaking of Rittenhouse, I've never seen it in Texas, and when trying to get Spec's to special order it, it came up in their computer as like $300/bottle or something obscene like that. When I told the guy I had read about it typically going for under $15/bottle he had a really good laugh (at the computer).

And I still have never had any Rittenhouse :(

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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And there are some categories where you just aren't going to find a good example of the spirit for $25.  The easiest examples I can think of are the ones I gave above, 100% Agave Tequilas and Absinthes.

John Walker on Sutter (www.johnwalker.com) has Pueblo Viejo Blanco for 22.99.

BevMo has the Dos Manos 100% Agave Blanco for 19.99.

Absinthe I can't help you with.

Marcovaldo Dionysos

Cocktail Geek

cocktailgeek@yahoo.com

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That said, the reason for the calvados substitution is that I don't have the budget to keep around an enormous bar, and a bottle of Laird's (either version) is a heck of a lot cheaper than a bottle of decent calvados.

actually...the $20-25 range is a sweet spot for mixing-worthy Calvados...you can find several, like Château du Breuil or Busnel that are decent enough to be drunk straight in a pinch and just fine in a cocktail (you'd probably be most likely to notice the difference in a Calvados Sidecar).

nevertheless, I see your general point...because you can substitute applejack in virtually any drink calling for calvados (playing with proportions sometimes)...but the reverse is not necessarily true.

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Speaking of Rittenhouse, I've never seen it in Texas, and when trying to get Spec's to special order it, it came up in their computer as like $300/bottle or something obscene like that. When I told the guy I had read about it typically going for under $15/bottle he had a really good laugh (at the computer).

And I still have never had any Rittenhouse :(

Check out Shoppers Vineyard. I don't know what the shipping to TX will be, but at $12.99 for a bottle of 100 proof it might be worth it.

Rich

"The only time I ever said no to a drink was when I misunderstood the question."

Will Sinclair

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Speaking of Rittenhouse, I've never seen it in Texas, and when trying to get Spec's to special order it, it came up in their computer as like $300/bottle or something obscene like that. When I told the guy I had read about it typically going for under $15/bottle he had a really good laugh (at the computer).

And I still have never had any Rittenhouse :(

Check out Shoppers Vineyard. I don't know what the shipping to TX will be, but at $12.99 for a bottle of 100 proof it might be worth it.

Rich

Leave some for me though. I will be in there Monday. :wink:
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Speaking of Rittenhouse, I've never seen it in Texas, and when trying to get Spec's to special order it, it came up in their computer as like $300/bottle or something obscene like that. When I told the guy I had read about it typically going for under $15/bottle he had a really good laugh (at the computer).

And I still have never had any Rittenhouse :(

Check out Shoppers Vineyard. I don't know what the shipping to TX will be, but at $12.99 for a bottle of 100 proof it might be worth it.

Rich

Thanks for the lead. Looks like they also have Marie Brizzard Curacao, which even Mighty Mighty Spec's doesn't carry (yet; working on them).

Will definitely be placing an order soon.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Also, I don't quite agree with you about the bonded's flavor profile vs. the regular's. IMHO, Laird's bonded is certainly more "whiskey-like" but not really more "apple-tasting" than the regular.

Hmm. I think it has a whole lot more "applejack flavor," which I suppose isn't quite the same thing as "apple flavor." But there is unquestionably a huge difference in intensity of flavor between the two.

Anyway, I'd be interested to see how you think the bonded applejack shows in your typical blended applejack cocktails if you make your own "blended" by using half bonded applejack and half vodka.

Interesting! I'll play with these and see how it all turns out!
...a few of the Flatiron Lounge house cocktails that I've ripped off use Laird's regular as well (like me, they keep both regular and bonded behind the bar and use them for different applications).

Yea. Most of those ones, if I am not mistaken, were formulated back in the days when you could only get the blended version. They work great, so no reason to reformulate. But I wonder how many people with access to both are developing new recipes with the blended stuff. I know that back when I was playing "Johnny Bonded Applejack-Seed" and giving out bottles of the then-unavailable bonded stuff to my NYC 'tender friends, they tended to disappear in very short order.

This is not to say, of course, that there aren't any possible applications where the milder blended stuff isn't better. Similarly, I prefer the less emphatic profile of Old Overholt over Rittenhouse bonded in certain cocktails. But I guess I just love bonded applejack so much I've never had a cocktail with blended that I wouldn't prefer with bonded. :smile:

Well, it's an interesting issue! I think it's hard to figure out how the different flavor profiles work beside actually trying 'em out, so I guess I'll do that!
Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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The reason is that you've got two different Rittenhouses

The 21 year old is over $150 a bottle: http://www.lenells.com/selections/individu...election_id=297

The other is $15 a bottle quite good.

-Dave

Speaking of Rittenhouse, I've never seen it in Texas, and when trying to get Spec's to special order it, it came up in their computer as like $300/bottle or something obscene like that. When I told the guy I had read about it typically going for under $15/bottle he had a really good laugh (at the computer).

And I still have never had any Rittenhouse :(

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I usually use the expensive/hard to get spirits for the fitst one or two cocktails, then when my head and tastebuds get a bit fuzzy i switch to less expensive/easier to get spirits. But never do I make that last step down to liquor one can buy with money one can panhandle in three hours on Ave A and 7th St.

Is it worth while to put that Havana Club in your sixth Daq? This I guess woould be the all night fight against the Law Of Diminishing Returns.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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