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A Budget friendly liquor cabinet?

Care to recommend your favorite compromise brands for decent cocktails on non special occasions? Martinis, daquiris, gimlets, margaritas, bloody marys, manhattans, negronis, cosmopolitans. For instance:
Gin: Gilbey's.
Vodka: Smirnoff. I can't understand any need to spend more for mixing.
White rum: Almost any cheap brand tastes less harsh than Bacardi! Ron Rico, Ron Diaz.
Whiskey: ?
Vermouth: Here, compromise does not pay. At least get Noilly Prat or Martini and Rossi.
Triple sec: Searching for something halfway between Jacquin's and Grand Marnier.
Tequila. A tough one. Sauza?

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  1. Looks like a pretty good list. My standard Vodka is Luksusowa. More expensive than US made vodkas but well worth it. For Bourbon, Old Crow. Blended whiskey, Seagram's Seven Crown. Cheap Scotch blend-Lauder's. Canadian, McMaster's. I don't have triple sec because I can't give up my Grand Marnier and I can use it to upgrade a triple sec drink.
    dave

    3 Replies
    1. re: davebough

      Another good inexpensive blended Scotch is Teacher's, apparently not well known in the US, but quite tasty for the price.

      1. re: davebough

        How about GranGala for a Grand Marnier substitute? I picked up a bottle out of curiosity and have been pleased, especially for the price.

        My budget-friendly gin choice is Gordon's, although I've not tried Gilbey's.

        1. re: davebough

          Second the rec for Luksusowa; my standard and all-round favorite is Youri Dolgoruki.
          I don't drink rum.
          Whiskey - Maker's is the best value to me
          Vermouth - I recently bought Lillet, but don't find it much differnet than dry vermouth like Martini & Rossi,
          Triple Sec - I only use it for cadillac margies and I prefer Cointreau; I've tried Patron's Citronage and didn't like it although it's priced low.
          Tequila - got to be 100% agave; not a mixto that's half sugar. Sauza hornitos is a good budget tequila; I spend $10 more for Herradura plato.

        2. For tequila, I like Margaritaville (HATE the name though, too cheesey) or the one by Sammy Hagar (can't remember the name). They are no Patron, but they're not Montezuma either.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sheilal

            You are thinking of Cabo Wabo. It around ~$50 a bottle. Not a budget tequila and I would argue that its better then Patron. I would also argue that Margaritaville is no better then Montezuma however....

          2. I like Monopolowa (not spell checked) Vodka. It is made from potatoes and is from Austria , I think. Smoother than Smirnoff, and about the same price. Evan Williams Black is good Bourbon, pretty cheap. Jim Beam used to be my inexpensive Bourbon, but I like the EW better.

              1. If you want a fairly good guide for almost anything you could have in a bar, and both top shelf and budget items for all of these thigns, check out: http://www.tastings.com/spirits/best_...

                I think it's on with both the Gordon's Gin and Vodka.

                I'd probably go with a Bowmore for a single malt.

                I have not shopped for a cheap amber rum for a while, but I would add one to any bar. I know a lot of rum drinkers that would never touch a rum and coke or a fruity rum drink like a daiquiri, but would instead rink it with tonic or ginger ale, or if drinking good rum straight or on the rocks. All of these rum drinkers, drink amber or darker rums. Appletons, Mount Gay, Barbancourt, are all good enough choices.