Hello and welcome to another special edition of Booze Reviews. This week rather than giving you a review of something new we decided to take a step back and see how far we’ve come in the past half of year. (We even managed to be mostly on schedule.) So then where has our treasure trove of knowledge left us?
Well you should already know by now if you’ve been reading our articles ya turkey’s. (Channeling Will) Just in case you haven’t though and you’ve just stumbled onto the gloriousness that is the Honest Booze Reviews I’ll let it slide for an article. Our time as those who drink, and are willing to experiment has led us to find what is the best and the worst that the local package store has to offer. We’ll discuss some things here that we haven’t formally reviewed (though look forward to the future.), but also things we’ve spent some “special” time with.
The goal of this would be to stock a “bar” for under 100 dollars. That however isn’t enough for us. Some sites will tell you what you need and then suggest getting things like Absolut and Beefeaters. Those people suck. So we here are showing you how to stock a bar for less than a Benjamin, and be awesome about it.
First and foremost is weighing what kind of bar you want. You can have a man’s bar (Read: Scotch), a bar to appeal to the ladies (Flavored Schnapps and SoCo), a mixology/cocktail bar, or a bar that contains a nice base to have a variety of drinks. Now obviously the first two are relatively easy to figure out so I’m not going to discuss them much. Top Gear Top Tip: Get what’s in the parenthesis.
So your options are then if you want a base bar or a focused bar. Now obviously if you and those you drink with hate the taste of gin/tequila/etc. then there’s no point in getting those spirits and you might as well get what you need. For example if you really only like vodka drinks and the occasional desire for some bourbon than that allows you to take the mixing route and grab a bunch of liquers that complement what you’re getting. What are these? Well that depends entirely on what drinks you like.
My suggestion? Grab the base you’re using (at least a handle) and look up drinks that contain that and see what you might like. Below are what we suggest for what to get, and if your only getting 1-2 types go to the high tier choice. Trust us, we know things. There’s a bunch of great sites/apps that let you figure out what you might want. (Google is your friend and overlord) When you are ready to branch out from screwdrivers pick up a bottle of that liquer you don’t know and try it. Also, and I must stress this don’t skimp on price here. Most of these last for a long time, and the cheap stuff can range from bad to worse. Unlike general booze; with liquers there is a standard for a very good reason and knock-off no-name brands just lead to bleh. (Sometimes this is not the case)
So then what if you’re building a base bar? Well then the suggestion is to grab the recommended stuff I’ll mention right after this and get a few simple ingredients to complement them. Right then so let’s move onto that whole price thing.
High Tier: Hammer + Sickle – $30
We’ve covered vodka the most here and it’s changed a bit for us over our time at Booze Reviews. From trying the godliness that was the smuggled vodka to the oddness of Bakon we know what we’re doing. Originally we were Ketel One kids, but Three Olives scored exactly the same for us, and it’s much cheaper. There is also Skyy which surprised us with how well it tasted. In terms of the bang for buck it comes to 2 choices though. Do you want a slightly better taste while having to look at a Eurotrash bottle, or not. If so choose Skyy, otherwise Three O.
Also worth noting are the handle prices (Which we don’t do in reviews) Skyy/Three O are both about $24. We however have been able to find Three-O for much cheaper – so as always play the game and see where you can get your best bang for buck.
Recommended: New Amsterdam – $13
High Tier: Tanqueray Rangpur – $30 or Bombay Sapphire – $26
New Amsterdam is the reason why we do Booze Reviews. It’s a wonder that something that costs about the same as Gordon’s can taste so good. Sure it’s not the best gin ever, but for the taste the price could easily be 15-17 dollars and I’d still recommend it. Want to know what makes it even better? A handle of this costs about $20. Granted Bombay is good, just not double the price good, and Rangpur may be one of my favorite gins that I’ve tried – but if you’re looking for a gin to stock your bar go New Amsterdam and kick Gordon’s to the curb.
Recommended: 1800 Series (Silver/Gold) – $26
High Tier: Milagro (Silver/Gold) – $30
Now if you were to point out that 26 dollars isn’t really a bargain here you’d have a point. While we’ve tried lower tier tequilas it seems if you want something decent than you need to shell out a little more in this area. The 1800 gold and silver are both good (We’ve only reviewed silver), Milagro though is better and isn’t comparably expensive. Milagro does however suffer from the Skyy problem of looking bad in your “bar”. For most people they don’t care, but we’re men so if you buy Milagro finish it that night and throw it away; otherwise get 1800.
High Tier: Capt Morgan Private Stock – $25
Here things get a bit diverse. First is do you want a spiced rum or an overproof. Aka how drunk do you want to be? If like me you need enough alcohol to actually inebriate a literal buffalo than Gosling’s is fantastic and worth every dollar. If you are just looking for a spiced rum that’s where things get dicey. It depends on whether you prefer Jerry’s or Morgan’s. We’ve seen it go either way. If you prefer Jerry’s than you have to spends less – yeah! However if you prefer Morgan’s you have the tough choice whether to get 100 proof or Pvt. Stock. Most places overprice Pvt. Stock, but if the difference is less than 7 dollars go Pvt. Stock. If however you want a much darker rum than the Kraken is fantastic, we’ve recently reviewed it, and it’s in our logs so expect that soon.
High Tier: Gentlemen Jack – $30
The question here is whether you prefer a whiskey over a bourbon or an Irish whiskey. If you can find Ezra – buy it. It’s fantastic stuff for it’s price. Those looking for Irish whiskey, Bushmills and others can’t compare so go Jameson’s. If you want to be American and Ezra isn’t in your area then go JD Green Label. It’s superior to the black label in terms of taste an price (although batches can vary wildly) and is our preferred whiskey of choice.
Now we don’t have Scotch on here because it’s usually more expensive. If however you’re looking for a cheap mixing scotch than your options are Johnnie Walker Red Label – $24, Famous Grouse – $21, and Dewar White Label – $24. These are comparable and relatively cheap so it’s all about what you’d prefer.
Alright then so where does that leave my wallet? Well if you’ve taken the recommended path than you’ve so far spent $85 – $99 depending on what you chose ($102 if you get a blended scotch for whiskey). With your leftover money it’s time to get some essentials. Some of these you should already have, but we’ll list them anyway.
- Fruit, mostly Limes/Lemons, but if you prefer Old Fashioned’s invest in cherries and oranges.
- Milk + Light Cream – If you’re making White Russians you can grab a 750mL of Kamora for about $10.
- Orange/Lemon/Lime Juices
- Blue Curacao and/or Grenadine – They cost around $6 and are essential to a bunch of mixers.
- Cola – Generic, coke, or pepsi whatever you fancy.
- Simple Syrup – Don’t bother buying this. Get 1 part water to 1-2 parts sugar, boil the water, add the sugar, stir until dissolved, let cool, and refrigerate, done.
- Tonic Water – It costs less than a dollar so stock up since they go flat relatively quick.
- Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth – $10 + Olives – This is only for those making original or vodka martinis. Note Vermouth goes bad after about 4-6 months, and make sure to refrigerate it.
And that’s it. Obviously you can tailor the above list to include/remove things you want to drink – and anyone of the bases can be subbed out for a liqueur of your choosing. We will of course be here every week providing new reviews of things trying to find better tasting, more affordable, and more manly booze for you the readers, and most importantly ourselves.
Of course if you’ve gotten to the end here, and missed the sign that this bar stocking guide is in fact OUTDATED, then check out our latest guide here.