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Apr 29, 2009 08:57 PM

"Recession Spirits"

I liked the Recession Vodka thread and started thinking (I know, "Dangerous") what about other spirits?

What's a good gin that won't bankrupt me? (Tanqueray is simply too offensive and Beefeater so close to pure kerosene I can't get closer than arm's length to a glass with the stuff in it.)

What about Irish Whiskeys? Has Jameson's been market-researched into distilled water? How about Murphy's? I haven't had to purchase any in about eight years so my last visit to Beverages and More was quite a shock to the wallet.

My view of rums was quite enlightening, too. Don Jose seems to have disappeared from the market completely while Bacardi has come on like the Budweiser of rums.

Price point, while important, isn't nearly as key in my decisions as taste. {Duh...} ;^) I'll take the hit to the Visa/MC if it means I'll actually enjoy drinking it rather than masking it into oblivion.

Many thanks!

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  1. Gin really depends on taste due to the botanicals that are in there. My preferred gin is Bombay dry gin (the white label) although I own several more expensive bottles in my collection. Getting it in a 1.75 liter bottle makes it a great deal (cheaper than Beefeater).

    For rums, it also varies due to the styles. Old Monk @ $15 for a 750 is great for a dark rum, as is Flor de Cana gold rum (4 yr) for about the same price point.

    3 Replies
    1. re: yarm

      I noticed more dark (and/or spiced) rums this last shopping trip, too. I've never tried any (that I'm aware) so are either of those good entry-point beverages?

      1. re: The Ranger

        Four darker rums in a decent price point are Old Monk, Goslings, Cruzan Black Strap, and Myers. The Old Monk is infused with a little vanilla and the Cruzan has a strong flavor of black strap molasses.

        Don't own any spiced rums. Many have appeared on the market due to the popularity of Capt. Morgan mixed with that product's rising prices as of late (the alternatives underprice). The most solid alternative is Sailor Jerry from what I gather. Spiced rums are often mixed with coke or other simple drinks; otherwise, you can get the spiced part from syrups, bitters, and liqueurs.

        1. re: yarm

          I tend to prefer sailor jerry over the captain in a lot of drinks.

    2. As far as cheap gin goes Burnett's is about as cheap as you can get but I still think it's drinkable. Seagram's isn't bad, either. For Irish Whiskey I would recommend Tullamore Dew. I think it tastes better than Jameson/Bushmills and it's about 20% cheaper. Once you get down to the Killbeggan or Powers level you're better off drinking varnish.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JohnE O

        I concur on the Burnett's, stands in well for Plymouth, even in a Martini, IMO. Also the Seagram's Extra Dry, despite its weird pale yellow color, I find it works well in most gin-based cocktails, especially when fruit juice is involved.

        I have toyed with Barbancourt Rum (Haitian), which is interesting because like the Rhums agricoles from Martinique, is made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses. But I really prefer more expensive rums, even for Daiquiris...I love Mount Gay Special Reserve (off-)white rum and their darker Sugar Cane rum.

      2. I'm glad to see the discussion growing! Here's my overall thinking on recession spirits: a fifth should be $15 and under if possible (close to $10 is better), and no more than $20 if there are no acceptable options in the sub $15 range. I do realize some spirits will probably be difficult to find in that price range. Although I really like Bombay Sapphire, I've recently discovered Gordon's gin, which I was quite impressed with in a Gin and Tonic, and I'm sure that it will be fine for this and other nice summery mixed drinks. At $12 for a fifth, it's a good bargain, and undoubtedly can be found for cheaper than that elsewhere (booze is not cheap here in CT) or at least in regards to unit price by buying in bulk. I'm not sure how it will be in a martini, but I could certainly post a report on it.

        For irish whiskey, I've actually heard good things about Powers Gold Label, which is similar in price to Bushmills, which I enjoy, but both are over $20.

        For rum, I only really use light rum, of which there aren't many options. Barardi is firewater, and expensive-for-what-it-is firewater at that being $15 a fifth here - I'd rather pay $18 for Cruzan's light version, which I have found to be pleasant so far. Appleton has a light rum too that I remember being a bit cheaper, which is probably better than Bacardi, but Scottie's rum didn't like it: - he seemed to like Flor De Cana's white rum, which I haven't tried either, though he did say he really liked Cruzan.

        1. Got to say it. If you don't like the taste of Tanqueray or Beefeater (imo the "ginny" gins) maybe gin isn't your thing?

          2 Replies
          1. re: GinChevyChase

            Tanqueray=mother's milk in our household. We treat ourselves about once every 2 months and spring for a bottle of Rangpur.

            1. re: GinChevyChase

              Another plus for Tanqueray is that when diluted, it makes a fine substitute for Pine-Sol.

            2. Other recession-friendly liquors I can recommend:

              • Pikesville Rye & Old Overholt Rye - both are Maryland-style (less spicy) and run $11-12 per 750mL.
              • Tawny and ruby ports - there are a lot of great old school recipes that use ports (and sherries). You can find good values at $10 a bottle which are great for mixing but eh for drinking.
              • Morin Selection Calvados - over the limit at $20 (although cheap for a Calvados) but with lots of apple brandy goodness to make to die for Marconi Wireless and Deauville cocktails.
              • Ramazzotti and other lesser known Amaros - around $16 here; no need to dump $30 on a bottle of Benedictine or $50 on a bottle of Chartreuse to get some bitter liqueur complexity.

              Also what might be of interest was one of the recent Mixology Monday events where they curated recession cocktail ideas:

              (My entry was beer-instead-of-champagne cocktails: