Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
122

Buying The Bottom Shelf: An Adventure In Cheap Liquor

This series is brought to you by TurboTax Federal Free Edition.

Cheap liquor is designed to get you wasted. You can take your time with a nice whisky, and enjoy it as you would with an expensive bottle of wine, but cheap liquor's only purpose is to be cheap. There is no complexity in cheap alcohol—at least, not the kind you desire—and because of its nature, you will force it down quickly and wait for it to impair you to an equally degraded state of relaxation. Perhaps it will make you long for the days of Drynuary.

But unless you have the means, you will continue to knock back the cheaper stuff on most days, and save your bottles of Laphroaig 18 and George T. Stagg for special occasions. How cheap should you go? As an occasional drinker, I certainly don't know, so I asked a few better informed drinking buddies to make a trip with me to Warehouse Wines & Spirits in Greenwich Village, our go-to place for affordable booze.

Mike: When you're looking to go cheap, what kind of liquor do you guys usually buy?

Gregory Beyer, senior editor, The Huffington Post: I guess I would say that I don't have any brand loyalty. But I do prefer bourbon and gin. I drink Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Makers Mark. I don't have a lot of strong opinions so I'm interested in seeing what we find today.

Lawrence Marcus, senior digital editor, Food & Wine magazine: When you talk about cheap liquor—we're talking about whisky here—the cheapest possible thing that is actually really good is Rittenhouse Rye. It's not their bottom level, but their one rung up called 'bottled in bond,' which means it's 50 percent alcohol, instead of 40 percent alcohol. That's about $22. We should probably get that. You could probably get something cheaper in the category and get something pretty good. I think Evan Williams is outrageously cheap—like $13. And it's really pretty decently drinkable!

Mike: We'll get the Evan Williams and Rittenhouse, then.

Adam Edelman, news writer, NewsCore: Yeah, I  suppose if cheapness is a prerogative, I'll get Johnnie Walker Red.

Mike: How about vodka?

Lawrence: Vodka is different from whiskey in that whiskey is supposed to have different characters, while vodka, ideally, is supposed to be neutral. It's not supposed to taste like anything but distilled alcohol and water, which is what it is. Smirnoff is as good as about anything for $13, and it actually won in a pretty exhaustive New York Times blind tasting some years ago.

Mike: If that's the case, let's try something cheaper.

Lawrence: Look, there's Dan Akroyd's Crystal Head Vodka.

Lawrence: You know, there's a big marketing push right now for Wódka. They have these wacky billboards, and it's extremely cheap.

Mike: It's $10. Let's get the Wódka. What about gin?

Lawrence: Gin is really just flavored vodka. In contrast to vodka, gin is something that bartenders and spirits enthusiasts love. I mean, people love gin, and vodka gets shit on constantly. And gin is basically just vodka that's been distilled with various other ingredients. It's flavored vodka. So here's Gordon's for $16.99 per liter, but we can go cheaper. Here's Duggan's for $9, and Georgi. It's pretty cheap. They're both really cheap!

Adam: My roommate buys Georgi, and it's absolutely disgusting. Avoid that.

Mike: Let's get the Duggan's then. What other cheap liquor should we try? Tequila? I don't like tequila, and cheap tequila sounds awful.

Greg: I agree.

Lawrence: I'm not too familiar with tequila.

Mike: I'm going to ask one of the staffers here. Excuse me, sir, if we were looking for a decent tequila under $20, what would you suggest?

Warehouse staffer: I would not recommend the Jose Cuervo because it's made from a blended corn alcohol, and they add food coloring to make it look like it's been aged in oak. For a decent tequila under $20, I would suggest the El Jimador. This is what I usually recommend. Add a squeeze of lime juice and you're good to go.

Mike: Sold. What do you think about our vodka and gin choices?

Warehouse staffer: The Wódka is decent, and as for the gin. It should be fine for a mixing gin. I wouldn't make a martini out of it.

Mike: Excellent. Thank you, sir. Let's buy this stuff and taste this stuff at my place. Wait, how did this moonshine get in here?

Wódka vodka, $9.99

Lawrence: Let's start with the vodka.

Mike: I'm scared of everything we bought. Except maybe the bourbon.

Adam: Can we have spit buckets?

Lawrence: So, Mike, what are you looking for, drinkability?

Mike: Yeah, but mostly whether it's worth the money we paid. Okay, is this one supposed to smell a certain way? Because this one smells like rubbing alcohol, and yup, it tastes gross.

Lawrence: This one actually has a little bit of flavor for a vodka, which is normally not considered to be a good thing.

Greg: Yeah, I would not choose to drink this. It really does taste like rubbing alcohol to me.

Lawrence: It has an unusual sweet taste. It's a strange-tasting vodka. I would just buy Smirnoff for a couple bucks more.

Adam: I feel like it's really no better than the $5.99 Silver Wolfs I'd buy in college. So I'd say just buy that, or go a step up like Lawrence is saying.

Duggan's London dry gin, $8.99

Lawrence: This was $9 for a liter. It's 90 proof or 45.2 percent alcohol, so you're getting a lot of alcohol for your dollar.

Mike: And this one smells great!

Lawrence: It smells like juniper. Juniper is the major component in most gins and sort of has that piney smell.

Mike: I like this one.

Adam: It's not so bad. I let it sit in my mouth and it wasn't an unpleasant thing like it was with the Wódka.

Lawrence: Mike, you have some Tanqueray on your shelf. Should we compare?

Mike: Sure, but remember that the Tanqueray costs about three times more.

Greg: The guy at the store said he'd never make a martini with Duggan's.

Mike: But I would drink the Duggan's in a tonic. Whoa, the Tanqeray is stronger.

Lawrence: I think it's far more pleasant.

Greg: I think so too, but is it three time more pleasant?

Adam: There's no question that the Tanqueray is more superior, but I thought the Duggan's was nice. I'd buy it for $9. I would drink it at a party and drink it frequently. It's much better than the Georgi, which was also $9.

Greg: I'd buy this for $9, definitely.

El Jimador tequila, $17.99

Mike: I don't like tequila, so don't pay attention to the face I make.

Lawrence: This is really decent. It's totally fine.

Adam: I really like this. It's my favorite by a long shot. It's really mild in my mouth. Most tequilas make me sick right away, but this one sat in my mouth and it was nice.

Lawrence: It has a really pleasant aftertaste. I think if you're making a margarita, this would be great to use.

Adam: I can tell you with certainty that I've learned something from tasting the El Jimador, and I will buy it when I'm looking for a lower-priced tequila.

Georgia Moon corn whisky moonshine, $9.99

Lawrence: It looks like they put it in a mayonnaise jar. It's hard to pour.

Mike: I'm going to spoon this into my glass.

Adam: So this is made from corn? What is this?

Lawrence: It's unaged corn whiskey, meaning it hasn't been mellowed or aged in a barrel. That's why it's clear.

Greg: Ugh, this smells terrible.

Mike: It smells like nightmares!

Lawrence: It smells like something weird. Like wallpaper paste. I've never come across an unaged whiskey that I've liked.

Adam: It smells like how a trashcan sometimes does. Why would people buy this?

Lawrence: No clue.

Mike: Let's taste it, and get it over with.

Lawrence: It's not the worst I've tasted, but it's terrible.

Greg: It didn't taste as bad as it smelled, but it was still disgusting.

Mike: I think it's awful. We should put this on a shelf for 100 years, and then try it again on our deathbeds.

Lawrence: You'd have to put it in a barrel.

Evan Williams bourbon whiskey, $13.99

Adam: I like Evan Williams. It's just a good, cheap whiskey. I don't think I would know the different between this and a couple of other whiskeys.

Lawrence: Yeah, I think it's fine.

Mike: I like it a lot.

Greg: No arguments.

Rittenhouse rye whiskey, $21.99

Greg: Lawrence, this is your favorite, right?

Lawrence: It's 50 percent alcohol. I think if you put a drop of water in your sip, you could compare it to the Evan Willams.

Mike: Whoa, it's strong. But good. It hit me hard, but in a good way.

Adam: Yeah, it's good.

Lawrence: It's something I'm happy to drink by itself.

Adam: And it wasn't too cheap—it was $22? What comparable rye whiskies are there?

Lawrence: Well, around this price, you have Jim Beam rye which isn't nearly as good. I'm a fan of the Rittenhouse.

Mike: So what were today's winners? I think the $9 gin. I expected that to be gross, but it was pretty decent.

Greg: Adam, it was the tequila for you, right?

Adam: Yeah, the tequila. But I wouldn't dispute that the gin was much better than I thought it would be. It was smooth.

Greg: I think the surprise was the gin. I liked the whiskies, which I expected.

Lawrence: I didn't mind the tequila.

Mike: I liked the Rittenhouse. I mean, it's not that cheap though.

Lawrence: It's cheap enough to have around. It's a great breakfast rye.

Mike Dang doesn't want to drink anymore.

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122 Comments / Post A Comment

jolie (#16)

Evan Williams is the best buy, but there's a bourbon in the $23-ish range called Fighting Cock that I also like, partly because it's good, partly because it's cheap and mostly because it's called Fighting Cock.

Kind of a bummer that this was so male-centric (which I'll just go ahead and blame on Mercury in Retrograde since it seems to be the cut of the week), because a nod to inexpensive bubbly wines (champagnes, proseccos, the like) would have been nice to see.

Also Georgi is what you use in Pink Panty Pulldown Punch.

Mike Dang@twitter (#42,746)

@jolie I am totally hoping to do this again with different wines, and some lady friends have already expressed some interest in participating. Perhaps you'd also like to provide some expertise? I stuck to some hard stuff in this round because I was on a limited budget.

jolie (#16)

@Mike Dang@twitter Sure! I mean, I'm mostly qualified to speak to the excellence of the ice that goes into the wine but sure! But also, and I'm saying this gently but I do think it needs to be said: the ladies drink the hard stuff too. Especially around these parts, heavy-drinking ladies have always been a part of The Awl's culture (expect my Op-Ed about how I'm quitting any day now)(J/K! J/K!) so, you know, it was particularly glaring to see not a single gal asked to be part of this tasting. I dunno, not a huge deal but something that got up in my craw.

SeanP (#4,058)

@Mike Dang@twitter of interest: the first guy, from the HuffPo. Geez, where does he buy his booze that Maker's Mark is the cheap stuff?

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@SeanP Right next door to his ivory backscratcher dispensary.

logan (#2,811)

@jolie I have the lady parts and I was invited to the tasting but bailed due to too much tasting the night before. SORRY THAT I RUINED THE CHEAP LIQUOR GUIDE FOR WOMANKIND. But: I asked a bartender once what the cheapest whiskey was that was also good, and he told me Jameson. If I'd been there, I'd have said that. Okay! I look forward to your ice recommendations! Ice and wine!

melis (#1,854)

@boyofdestiny He actually takes liquor from all of his neighbors' apartments, briefly writes the source on its label (Johnnie Walker – #44D) and keeps it in his own kitchen.

Vera Knoop (#2,167)

@Mike Dang@twitter For your cheap wine consideration: Carta Vieja cabernet sauvignon runs about $6 in NYC and is quite nice, classy screw top and all.

candybeans (#176,001)

@melis Zing! still got it.

alliepants (#204,157)

@jolie BUFFALO TRACE BUFFALO TRACE BUFFALO TRACE.

that's all.

arletterocks (#225,922)

@alliepants DUDE. BUFFALO TRACE.

freetzy (#7,018)

Question: How much does Makers cost in NYC? In Chicago it's usually about $28 in a corner liquor store but almost always on sale at CVS or the Jewel for under $25. Can Rittenhouse really be considered bottom shelf at $20+? is what I'm asking.

cherrispryte (#444)

@freetzy CVS'S IN CHICAGO SELL MAKER'S!?

freetzy (#7,018)

@cherrispryte Yes, and the rent is pretty cheap. And it's 80 degrees out today. And sometimes west of the Loop smells like chocolate.

SeanP (#4,058)

@freetzy I had the same question. I think that with the rye, though, there's probably not a huge amount of choice in brands at most places. I don't think they sell enough rye any more for liquor stores to stock much variety. At our local (state-controlled) ABC store, Jim Beam rye is all there is.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@SeanP Rye in general seems to be an endangered species. The slow food folks have it in their "Ark of Taste."

riotnrrd (#840)

@boyofdestiny I thought rye was making a big comeback. It seems to be booming out here in San Francisco, at any rate. There's like two dozen different kinds I can buy at the local liquor store, and pretty much every bar stocks two or three brands.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@riotnrrd Hmm. Maybe the distinction here is rye made with any old rye seeds, and rye made with all 'murican rye? Who knows. Either way, it'll get you drunk!

SeanP (#4,058)

@riotnrrd I think it probably is, based on what I read. But the trend hasn't made it out to the sticks (where I live).

Brunhilde (#1,225)

@cherrispryte The CVS in my tiny California town has a better booze selection than most Washington state run liquor stores, for about half the price. I usually take up a collection and Costco booze orders from my friends before I drive down.

@SeanP I think there must be a supply/demand issue w/ the Rittenhouse bc it used to be several dollars less than that not terribly long ago. Maybe it caught up to them that they were undercharging.

laurel (#4,035)

@Brunhilde CVS and Walgreens in New Mexico have fully stocked liquor sections too. Closed Sundays until noon, but that's it. Also, usually shorter lines at the cash registers in the liquor department.

Hey, can anyone tell me if the bunny story has dropped below the fold yet? >:(

That "moonshine" crap IS the worst thing I've ever tasted. I also bought it at Warehouse Wines although I've since seen it elsewhere.

cherrispryte (#444)

Y'all are idiots when it comes to cheap vodka. If you're going to buy cheap-ass Polish vodka (which is CLEARLY the only type of vodka worth drinking), why the hell are you buying rye-based vodka?!

You want Luksusowa. It's the same price point as Smirnoff, but because it is a potato vodka (the proper item to make vodka out of) it is incredibly smooth and velvety and clean.
Smirnoff tastes like the charcoal it was poorly filtered through, and is possibly the grossest vodka ever, up there with Zelko.

In conclusion, drink Luksusowa, (Luck-suh-so-va) you fools.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@cherrispryte I mean, I understand your zeal, and I'm in your corner here, but when you say that Smirnoff is the grossest vodka ever, it makes me think that maybe you haven't had some of the more vile plastic-bottle varieties that I have.

Van Buren Boy (#1,233)

@boyofdestiny Just having a whiff of Popov will give me a raging hangover.

carpetblogger (#306)

@cherrispryte While I am a proponent of the idea that, once you get above super cheapos in the plastic bottles, there's not that big a difference between vodkas, it's a shame the cheaper Polish/Ukie/Russki brands aren't widely available.

riotnrrd (#840)

@cherrispryte Monopolowa is another great go-to cheap vodka. $10/liter at Trader Joe's and it's nice and clean with no chemical taste. (I am not trying to damn it with faint praise here, but what can you say about vodka? It doesn't taste like anything and gets your fucked up?)

I like Nemiroff from the Ukraine myself, smoother than Luksusowa.

pandaonaplane (#226,531)

@cherrispryte clearly he has not had the luxury of sampling such fine varieties as Burnett's or Mr. Boston's. They make Smirnoff seem like top shelf.

purefog (#999)

@cherrispryte Yes! We are Luksusowa-swilling buddies together! (Us and the late Herb Caen.)

laurel (#4,035)

Is it true that if you run your cheap vodka through a Brita filter-type thing it won't hurt so much the next day?

@cherrispryte My old roommate had an elaborate system of Brita filtration where he would run the karkov through three separate filters three times each. We would do 3-4 handles at a time and pour them into nicer bottles. No one ever caught on.

As for the hangover, maybe? I've always slept through them.

Miss Scarlton Banks (#226,616)

@cherrispryte One ounce of Smirnoff in a cocktail is enough to get my stomach churning into the next morning. I must readily agree that it IS the Grossest [Commonly Available] Vodka Ever, next to those Cossack handles (oh college…) I don't know what the people in the blind taste test were drinking, but in open-bar type situations and other areas with limited selection, the ubiquitous Smirnoff has turned me into a white wine-drinking, Grey Goose-ordering asshole. GREY GOOSE! Pretty shameful. At least there's whiskey.

Mr. B (#10,093)

Gin is really just flavored vodka.

I'm totally raging out over this crack, even though in my heart of hearts I know it's sort of true. BUT STILL.

Anyway, that bottle of Knob Creek I finished over the weekend sure was expensive … but delicious nonetheless.

SeanP (#4,058)

@Mr. B I'm a big Knob Creek fan myself. And in the cheap but good category, Wild Turkey (101) is worth mentioning. That's my go-to bourbon.

Mr. B (#10,093)

@SeanP Agreed; I also like Cooper's Mark, which I think is comparable in price.

daemonsquire (#9,523)

I was at an event last week, at SF's Academy of Science, celebrating local food and drink makers, wherein one of the bars was serving martinis made with vodka "infused with local juniper berries, pink peppercorns, citrus peels, & rose petals". I would never ordinarily call anything with vodka a "martini", but I had a little trouble wrapping my head around how gin differs from what's described above… And then, with an olive and a dash of "local house-made dry vermouth", and all the distractions of the museum, I have to confess, I couldn't tell I was drinking a "vodka martini".

So, I assume (as I willfully avoid wikipedia-ing), in gin making, the junipers (and forty other herbs and spices) are boiled along with the mash in the distilling process, as opposed to being steeped in the alcohol later?

GailPink (#9,712)

I learned a lot from reading this and had a few laughs as well. Win win!

Matt (#26)

I know a guy who tells me that they actually pay you to take a bottle of Maker's at the CVS in LA is this true?

deepomega (#1,720)

@Matt It's true. But you gotta tip the valet, so.

hman (#53)

Warehouse Wines makes me sad whenever I'm in there because it means I'm drinking alone and then I inevitably pick up a copy of New York Press at the end of the register.

karl (#226,500)

Evan Williams is good, but you could've saved four dollars with Old Crow bourbon. It's at least as drinkable, especially if you can find the "reserve" black label.

In times of desperation, you can get by on 86 proof Heaven Hill, but I suggest mixing which, since these times are already desperate, is fine with some tap water in your last clean coffee mug.

tomme (#4,473)

Old Overholt should be considerably cheaper than the Rittenhouse and makes a damn fine Manhattan or Sazerac.

Matt (#26)

Also, Jesus, if I've said it once I've said it 800 times: Evan WHITE LABEL. Also how is there no mention of Overholt? Pareene wasn't available for comment? Huh?

@Matt Totally Overholt. It's like $16 IN PARK SLOPE.

Also: Four Roses.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

That's $14 plus $2 Tax for Living In Brooklyn.

jolie (#16)

@Clarence Rosario AHHHHH YES FOUR ROSES!! When we were butt fucking broke living on the ass end of Brooklyn (DYKER HEIGHTS REPRESENT) Four Roses was our go-to when we felt like splurging on something other than the $7.99 magnum of white wine.

MollyculeTheory (#4,519)

@Matt I was about to say, Rittenhouse over Ol' Holt Jesus Christ you have to be kidding me.

RocketSurgeon (#1,632)

@jolie Four Roses is better than it used to be, and still a good deal. And even though it doesn't really qualify as cheap at ~$30, High West Double Rye is one of my new favorite things.

riotnrrd (#840)

@RocketSurgeon Yeah, High West Double Rye is not "cheap," but is a fantastic value for the price. So good.

SeanP (#4,058)

@RocketSurgeon yeah, I was just going to say the same thing. I was at a bourbon tasting once (which is in fact a thing), and one of the selections was Four Roses. I thought, isn't that some kind of rotgut? In fact, it was very nice.

Van Buren Boy (#1,233)

If you're going to delve into the world of cheap liquor you should probably do a complete evaluation of bum wines. And for the record, Boone's Farm > Mad Dog 20/20

Matt (#26)

Blue Hawaiian yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@Van Buren Boy Cisco was our poison of choice back in high school.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

@boyofdestiny also see: Night Train, Thunderbird (The Classics)

Bitzy (#1,913)

@Van Buren Boy Thunderbird.

jolie (#16)

@Van Buren Boy The first time I ever barfed from booze was off some Mad Dog 20/20 (purchased at an Atlanta gas station, the way God intended) and oh man, just reading that name is enough to give me the shiverheaves.

Al Cracka (#222,198)

@Van Buren Boy I came here to chew bubblegum and to yell MAD DOG! and here you are already talking trash. MAD DOG! I actually still periodically buy this, for the same reason that I still periodically put on a black light and listen to Pink Floyd*. It is terrible, but that's not the point. NOT THE POINT.

* I have never done this.

Van Buren Boy (#1,233)

@jolie The best part is looking at all the pretty colors when it comes back up!

jolie (#16)

@Van Buren Boy Don't remind me. It was 20 years ago and I can still feel the cool porcelain of the toilet bowl as I gripped it and swore I would never drink again.

@Van Buren Boy yellow tail! rooster goliath (it has a rooster on the label) anything from south america. south american wines are amazing.

laurel (#4,035)

@Art Yucko "What's the word? Thunderbird. What's the price? A dollar twice."

Redemption also makes a very nice rye at about the same price point as Rittenhouse.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Who_own_da_Chiefs but is it 100 proof?

@whizz_dumb Alas, it is a mere 92 proof, so I guess it's not quite the same buzz-for-your-buck value as the Rittenhouse. Still a good value, nonetheless.

Another solid 100 proof (101, actually) rye at a really good price point? Wild Turkey. Honest.

purefog (#999)

@Who_own_da_Chiefs Thomas Handy Sazerac. 129 proof. And yummy. Also, unfortunately, about 80 bucks.

Art Yucko (#1,321)
whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Art Yucko Trader Joe's is the place for booze.

Great post! Great comments! Main counter-intuitive learnings summarized for the other latecomers:
1. El Jimador may be the cheapest legitimate tequila.
2. Old Crow Reserve may be good alternative to go-to Evan Williams.
3. I miss Chicago a whole lot.

freetzy (#7,018)

@Charismatic Megafauna Come on back. We won't judge you for leaving for an actual job in New York/LA, mountains and shit like that in Austin/Denver/Seattle, legal weed in SF.

Tyrantanic (#13,751)

If that's bottom shelf rye, I'll stick with my Bulleit for not much more, thanks.

Sheila (#44)

Five O'Clock Vodka, just for the name.

You can use it for rubbing alcohol too.

Matt (#26)

Seriously, where the hell is Listerine on this list? Fuck.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Ronsonol.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

Too long; wasted before I got to the end.

Matt (#26)

Listicle Without Commentary: Cheap Booze, In Order

3. Listerine

2. Toilet wine

1. Huff gas

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Huff Plan

melis (#1,854)

The Huffington Toast

jolie (#16)

4. Generic brand Nyquil
5. Bleach + Ammonia

Vera Knoop (#2,167)

@jolie
6. holding your breath
7. spinning around
8. rubbing your temples really hard

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@Vera Knoop Apple cider buried in the ground since autumn.
(IT'S ALMOST SPRING.)

6h057 (#1,914)

It's like you guys've never been to Pittsburgh before.

SeanP (#4,058)

@6h057 How is it that no one has mentioned nitrous.

Cocky Bravado (#212,693)

The secret to cheap drinking is that it's easy to drink what you're used to, so just get used to something hella cheap.

Moxie (#81,363)

As a person well-acquainted with the bottom shelf, I have a few recommendations for you:
- Wild Turkey (regular strength)
- Revel Stoke (I was not previously familiar with spiced whiskey, but it makes a mean whiskey-ginger and goes well with crisp mountain air.)
- New Amsterdam Gin (Cheap and fine for G&Ts)

shannowhamo (#226,574)

@Moxie I found new Amsterdam to be really gross! I bought it based on price-point and bottle attractiveness but it has been the only bottle of alcohol to remain unconsumed for more than a couple days (montsh at this point!) because I found it so foul. I'm not a snob at all but something about it just did not taste right to me!

spoondisaster (#189,637)

@Moxie Oh man, New Amsterdam is excellent. I actually prefer it to Tanqueray because I like the citrusy quality it has. I mean, Hendrick's is the best gin, hands down, but when I can't afford it New Amsterdam is my choice.

And Warehouse has a ridiculous sale on Gosling's Black Seal right when you walk in. They're little flask bottles in a size I think they no longer make.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@Brooklyn Battery I think it's pretty sad to be buying Amy Winehouse's stash, even if it means cheap rum.

purefog (#999)

Yeah, guys, I'd save my bottle of George T. Stagg if I could GET one of the goddamned things. Geez. I think you can get a bottle shipped to you from England on the interwebs for just a few hundred dollars (plus shipping) but, beyond that, there ain't none nowhere.

@purefog Crush Wine and Spirits had some in stock recently. Not sure if they still do.

purefog (#999)

@Who_own_da_Chiefs A search of their website brings up nada.

juliamark (#226,556)

ALL of this looks better than the bottom-shelf stuff in germany, where the vodkas are all named after famous russians, although between them, i'll take wodka gorbatschow over pushkin OR jeltsin.

blergh (#177,628)

@juliamark I love the vodka names in Germany: I started a collection on my wall (it was a long time ago; I was in college) of empty vodka bottles featuring Russian rulers (inspired by the ubiquity of Gorbachev vodka in Germany). I never did find a Stalin vodka. Then I also had an entire set of literary Russian vodka. Such tacky decorating, but such good times.

fabel (#201,544)

All of these choices seem much better than my college Majorska habit. $8 plastics jugs of what tasted like rubbing alcohol.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

The best part of living in my parents' basement is that this is where they keep the liquor.

assembledwrong (#13,310)

Old Crow and New Amsterdam. All day. Every day.

my go to drink these days is sparking pom cider (or apple cran, or whatever i can find) and chardonnay. i usually use cheap chardonnay ($5-12), or a sav blanc. with the juice mixer you get a nice mellow cocktail.

i tried ginger beer and rum, and it was so sugary it kept me up all night. i only tried that because i heard ginger beer and whiskey is excellent. i will def try one of the whiskeys above.

i also really like a nice pale ale (NOT ipa!!!)

@Brooke Adam@facebook ginger beer + anything except rum = the best. whiskey is my favorite but a good ol moscow mule is nothing to scoff at. it even works with tequila or gin! but rum is too sweet.

joenikolash (#226,577)

Nice one i'd like to try one :P

Marc Geelhoed (#7,882)

Cabin Still is cheaper than Evan Williams, and has come in #2 in both blind bourbon tastings I've done. I keep one of those around for day-to-day drinking, then go up to Evan Williams single barrel or Willett Family if I'm feeling fancy.

I am actually amazed and jealous of how cheap alcohol apparently is in the US! In New Zealand the cheapest you could get a litre of 40% spirits is probably the equivalent of $22 US?

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Alida Thomson@facebook You are making me so proud right now, my American patriotism is beaming. And I am an anti-nationalist! Also, "litre of 40% spirits"? This phrasing is downright adorable to us Americans.

Mr. B (#10,093)

@whizz_dumb I know! How does one pronounce "litre" anyway? I can't decide between "lee-trah" and "leert"!

MaladyDee (#226,741)

@Mr. B you say it "LEE-turh". Or you get lazy/drunk and saying "leader" which is my preferred choice.

Mr. B (#10,093)

@MaladyDee That can't be right. Unless that kiwi person was talking about "liters," which is something else entirely.

My relentless internet research on cheap 100% agave tequilas let me to El Jimador a few years ago and I've been a fan ever since. For cheap vodka I used to drink Smirnoff until I discovered that it tastes like shit. I usually drink Svedka for accessibility purposes, I've never been able to find any of these supposedly-superior $10 Russian vodkas mentioned upthread.

And if we're talking bourbon and whiskey, bottom shelf is pretty much just not worth drinking. Maker's and Four Roses are not bottom shelf. I'll drink Dickel but only because I live in Tennessee and it is A Thing, I think.

blergh (#177,628)

I love gin (I had, um, way to many Old Raj martinis last night), but I really quite like Gordon's for gin & tonics. And I learned the other night that there are apparently four different Gordon's, including a Japanese Gordon's that has a slightly higher alcohol content. Apparently the Japanese stuff is often available at duty-free shops.

seoamplifd (#226,669)

Gin!

galeromm (#226,706)

nice post here…

willie9vol (#226,285)

wow

daemonsquire (#9,523)

Years ago, Bruno (R.I.P.), of the Persian Aub Zam Zam Room, recommended Boord's Gin to me, and I still look for it when the well runs dry. BevMo carries plastic handles of it for $17. So, close to the price of Duggan's, per oz. of pure alcohol…

I only recently learned that Boord's was the original "old tom gin", a lightly sweetened version of gin (kinda like "genever"), popular back in London's 19th century "gin craze" days. Their blend, in intervening years, must have changed with the popular taste–my bottle, anyway, says "London Dry" on the label, and I don't taste any sugar. All I taste is smooth, cheap gin!

jane lane (#13,631)

The Pearl plum vodka in the picture is the beeeeeeeeest with lemonade, but it's like $6 cheaper down here. I hope that means I can get all the bottom shelf liquor discussed for less too.

Someone gave me a jar of that fake moonshine at x-mas time. I was excited about it, thinking it might be comparable to homemade 'shine but, alas.. As for cheap whiskey/something different "Revel Stoke" is a weirdly delicious "spiced" whiskey. Lots of vanilla notes and a mild nutmeggy after burn. Really smooth, I would say if you like the idea of spiced rums you should try it. Like Windsor Canadian had a one night stand with Captain Morgan.

pkyle@twitter (#226,918)

Moonshine is not meant to be poured. You pass the mason jar around. You're really only taking shots of moonshine, unless you're just really excited about going blind.

You cannot have a discussion about respectable cheap liquor without mentioning Old Crow. It is the totally palatable and generally costs about $9.95 a handle.

joan1dhani (#227,409)

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Interesting !!

lydiafizz (#232,129)

Has no one else commented that this title is sort of ripping off Will Gordon's Drinking the Bottom Shelf column in Serious Eats?

Paul E. Ester (#235,482)

There goes five minutes of my life I'll never get back.

ryanw (#235,616)

For an international perspective of cheap booze – may i present the cheapest alcohol in the world:
The Cheapest Alcohol in the WORLD

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