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Oct 13, 2009 11:15 AM

What have been your best and worst liquor purchases?

What have been your best and worst liquor purchases?

While I don't drink much of it myself, my best purchase was my first bottle of amaretto. I was able to make quite a few nice drinks for my wife, who then embraced my ever-growing bar. I lovingly refer to amaretto as her gateway drug.

The worst? A bottle of Midori. I thought I would be using it more than I have, but so far not a lot of Midori recipes have overwhelmed me. No worries, though, as I'll keep trying until I find a good match.

Okay, your turn.


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  1. A bottle of Galliano about 10 years ago!!!

    15 Replies
    1. re: csammy

      Best liquor purchase--a liqueur called Bermuda Gold made from the loquat. Dig this video ("some would say...SENNN-SUAL..."LOL!). I don't even know what a loquat is. I do know that when mixed with Black Seal and eggnog, it makes an absolutely fabulous drink called dirty snowballs. Yum! I think part of the draw is I can only get this if I go to Bermuda, which is not in the cards for me at the moment.

      Worst liquor purchase: I'll admit it--I used to drink Everclear Purple Passion about 20 years ago...grape something and grain alcohol. Then I grew up.

      Still have that Galliano, btw? Not like it has a shelf life as far as I know...Harvey Wallbanger cake is delicious. I found this from-scratch recipe just now. I haven't tested it yet, but it's from the King Arthur flour site, so it will be on my list to try:

      1. re: kattyeyes

        I'd like to update my original reply with a recent "best"--Canton Ginger Liqueur. When we first bought it (last year?), we mixed up all sorts of new drinks with it. It's versatile and delicious.

          1. re: kattyeyes

            Just got gifted this. I've made a few cocktails with it but thus far the only one that was a real winner was the Rickshaw.


            Any other recipes to share? I'd love to use it more. I enjoy it when it plays more of a back note in a drink, especially for summer time.

            1. re: isadorasmama

              We had blended it with a cream liqueur (like Bailey's but not Bailey's) as a winter after-dinner drink, but the mojito on their site sounds really good. Make a mojito as you normally would, but sub the Canton for simple syrup.

              The Asian Pear Martini on this list of Domaine de Canton drinks sounds fab, too:

              I want to say we also mixed it with something fizzy like Prosecco, too, but it's been a while. We had a little booklet that came with the bottle and tried some of those options or whatever was handed to us at the liquor store. I'd like to try some of the drinks on the barnone link I posted. Lots of refreshing warmer weather options.

            2. re: kattyeyes

              I just made a round of what I call Arrack Attack's for a foodie's evening. While the Canton is subtle, it is an important part of the drink.

              1 1/2 oz Batavia Arrack van Oosten
              1/2 Cynar
              1/4 oz Canton
              1/2 oz Lime
              1 dash Fee WBA bitters
              Lime wheel garnish

              Shake, strain, low-ball

              I think this is a really good drink. The funk of the Arrack comes though, with a subtle ginger undertone and a bitter vegetal finish. It's not a girlie drink, though. Somewhat sophisticated without being overly challenging.

              I think the Canton is a good product. It has a spicy edge in the spirit of ginger beer (rather than, say, ginger ale). It also goes will with pear, (e.g. Poire William) flavors, maybe with rum?. I also think Bourbon would be a natural match, maybe with some dry vermouth or a nutty sherry?

              1. re: EvergreenDan

                from the recipe that sounds very well balanced and complex, a bit on the dry side, and booze heavy, but not excessively so. I have to try it some time. I can imagine exactly what it should taste like. I need to pick up some more cynar and I'll make one some time soon. A drink as complex as that needs a name that goes with the ingredients. It almost seems like the recipe for a late 1700's to early 1800's punch.

                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  Yeah, Arrack Attack is not the best name. I wouldn't say it's dry (which to me implies the absence of sugar (e.g. Martini), rather than sugar balanced by acid). It is definitely sweet/sour due to the sugars in the Cynar and Canton. Got a better name?

                  This was served for a rjsttafel -- mother born in Indonesia and raised in Holland. I thought the Batavia Arrack tie-in was perfect.

                2. re: kattyeyes

                  I just picked up a mini bottle of Canton and have to agree, it is a very interesting liqueur. The odd thing was - the price on the mini was much less than the 750s, $1.30 vs $31. Going back for more.

                  1. re: ncyankee101

                    Wait. I never spend much time looking at the prices of mini bottles, because I assume they are not a good value. But if the mini bottle is 50ml, then it is 1/15 of a 750ml bottle. So that is a really good deal. $1.30 x 15 is $19.50.

                    I'll have to keep my eyes open.

                    1. re: GraydonCarter

                      I usually just use the minis to sample something and see if I like it enough to get a full bottle, but on rare occasions they are a deal.

                      At one point in NC you could get 16 minis of Wild Turkey rare breed for the same price as a 750, but they have dropped the price a little so now they are about the same.

                      One mini bottle deal that is rather nice - the 3-pack of Balvenie, with the Doublewood, 15 yr and 21 yr. At the price of $19.65 in NC it works out to about the same price per ounce as the 750s - but it is your chance to try a $170 Scotch without having to buy a bottle or pay $30+ for a shot at a Whiskey bar (if you can find one that stocks it - there are two bars in my area that have excellent single malt selections and neither has it.)

                  2. re: kattyeyes

                    I haven't bought another bottle of it—I didn't really enjoy it at all. But... I make my own ginger syrup pretty regularly and found that I enjoyed using that much more.

                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      I just made my own Canton (ginger hooch--I made mine with Hennessy, so simple it's crazy not to do it) and I am fired up on The Gold Rush--a drink I found on the Canton site:

                      1.5 Domaine de Canton
                      1 bourbon
                      .5 fresh lemon juice

                      Pour into a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain. As they said in the 70s, "Try it, you'll like it!" Happy Friday!

                  3. re: csammy

                    And you still have 3/4 of it, right?

                    1. re: csammy

                      Really??? LOVE Galiano! Cant beat a Harvey Wallbanger!

                    2. A few years a backyard BBQ, we wanted to do roasted marshmellows with sambucca in them. It may sound strange - but it can be very tasty (especially with black sam...but baileys is good too). A friend and I volunteered to walk the block to the liquor store (no one was driving at that point). We bought what we thought was Sambucca...but when we got back to the party, we discovered it was marachino liqueur. It was awful...but it made really pretty colored flames when we poured it into the firepit.

                      26 Replies
                      1. re: katidyd

                        Maraschino liqueur is actually awesome when used in moderation particularly in one of my favorite cocktails, the Aviation. Definitely a bit much sipped on it's own. Too bad you poured it out.

                        Aviation Cocktail


                        2 oz. gin

                        Juice of 1/2 a lemon

                        1 Tsp simple syrup

                        1/2 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liquer

                        1/4 oz. Creme de Violette


                        1) Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker.

                        2) Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          Thanks StriperGuy for the cocktail recipe. I couldn't image that stuff in anything...but maybe I will give this a try...all the other ingredients are lovely.
                          Thanks - but you didn't say what your worst purchase has been - or haven't there been any?

                          1. re: katidyd

                            Gosh, there have probably been dozens over the years.

                            I bought a pricey Spanish Brandy (I usually love them) that I was not familiar with and it was just bad. Tasted like it was made from cheap brandy, caramel color, and caramel flavor. Ick.

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              Someone also gave me a bottle of some crappy German booze with gold flakes in it. Tasted like cheap cough syrup though it was pretty.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                That would be Goldschlager ( i could be spelling that wrong)

                                  1. re: roro1831

                                    There are two clear liqueurs with gold flakes in them.

                                    If it was German, and had an herbal taste, it was Goldwasser.

                                    If it was Italian, and had a cinnamon taste, it was Goldshlager

                              2. re: katidyd

                                I like most booze flavors but maraschino liqueur totally turns me off, too. I keep trying Aviations and keep hating them. To each her own.

                                1. re: Up With Olives

                                  Try a Penultimate Word:
                                  2 oz Gin
                                  1 oz Aperol
                                  1/2 oz Maraschino
                                  1 oz Lemon

                                  I too didn't like Maraschino at first. However, after repeated exposure, I now like it, although I prefer it's effects to be subtle, rather than up front.

                                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                                      Is this drink your invention? I'd like to blog it and credit it properly.

                                    2. re: Up With Olives

                                      @Rebecca - The attribution on my site is, I believe, wrong. I will research it and post back here. I'm pretty sure I can figure out where I got it from. Of course, that may not be the original creator.

                             | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                      1. re: Up With Olives

                                        @Rebecca. I have updated the attribution on Kindred Cocktails, which is now correct. The recipe was created by Chowhound user Thew. He has given his permission to credit him by his given name. I should note that the Penultimate Word is a variation on Thew's original, which used a 1.5:1:1:1 ratio and specified Hendrick's gin, adapted to my taste.

                               | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                          Thank you! I will be blogging it in the next couple weeks. Cheers!

                                      2. re: katidyd

                                        The Aviation is a classic. I've been making it with Creme Yvette (which is what the original recipe called for, in lieu of Creme de Violette).

                                      3. re: StriperGuy

                                        Are you using Rothman & Winter for the creme de violette? I had an Aviation at a local (classic cocktails) bar and it didn't have the creme de violette. I made a pretty big stink about it and the bartender told me it's only a variation.

                                        1. re: isadorasmama

                                          Until VERY recently creme de violette was not really available in the USA. Most U.S. bartenders will thus make an Aviation without.

                                          I use the R&W but someone did a violette taste test and it was second or third. Can't seem to find the article. There is a Japanese one that is supposed to be amazing. There are also one or two french versions including one from Hermes.

                                          After the fact found the article:


                                          Part two:


                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            Thanks a bunch for the links. I will pour over them after I get the little one down for a nap. Creme de Violette has become a minor obsession of mine lately after having it in a cocktail on a trip to New Haven. You can't find it anywhere in the suburbs where I live so I need to special order it. I haven't done so because of financial constraints (if I get it I'd also have to get marachino liqueur) but now that I've had the Aviation w/o it I need to try my hand at making it with.

                                            The thing is, I bet it is readily available in the area where the bar I recently went to is located. I had an email exchange with the bartender about it and he said they don't stock it because you only need it to make a handful of drinks. That seemed like a ridiculous reason to me, especially coming from a bar that prides itself on having a spectacular rye and gin selection as well as making classic cocktails.
                                            They also don't carry St. Germaine, if that tells you anything.

                                            1. re: isadorasmama

                                              Cooper Spirits just put out their reissue of Creme Yvette, which is based on violets, as well as a whole lot of different kinds of berry and some other stuff. Can be used in a Blue Moon or Aviation. Its color is a lot pinker than the Rothman and Winter Creme de Violette. I like the color of the Rothman product, but have heard mixed things about its taste (still haven't tried it).

                                              1. re: will47

                                                R&W tastes like Granny's soap smells, but don't let that stop you. Like many vile flavors, a hint is good. I use only 1 tsp (1/6th oz) in an Aviation and think it's plenty. I've also used it when a recipe calls for a floral flavor that I don't have (like substituting for rose water).

                                                This is a perfect bottle to share with a few friends. For me at least, a 750ml bottle is a lifetime supply twice over. There are few popular cocktails that use it, save for the Aviation.

                                                I'm curious to try the Yvette, and given the price I'd like to split a bottle. Doesn't seem right in an Aviation, which (to me, anyhow) is about the delightful gin, tangy lemon, funky Maraschino, and yucky Violette -- all in balance.

                                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                  > Doesn't seem right in an Aviation

                                                  My understanding has always been that Creme Yvette was the original ingredient in an Aviation, and that using another Creme de Violette is a later substitution


                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                          Requires Green Chartreuse, but the Last Word is one of my favorite cocktails featuring Maraschino. Maraschino is also good in a Martinez (the precursor to the Martini).

                                          Definitely something that I prefer in small doses, though. It has an interesting and slightly medicinal quality.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            Of course it depends what brand of maraschino liqueur, there are some terrible brands out there.

                                            1. re: JMF

                                              I am sure that is the case. I have tried Luxardo (the definitive version) and some obscure Italian brand I bot in Italy that was actually very nice and drier then the Luxardo.

                                              1. re: JMF

                                                Yeah - I've only had Luxardo. Certainly interested if people have a specific type to recommend.

                                            2. re: katidyd

                                              It's terrific as a dessert poured over grapefruit sections, and can be used to make faux maraschino cherries without the dayglo red color.

                                            3. Well, I have to say it is a tie between....
                                              DeKuyper Original Island Blue Pucker Sweet & Sour Schnapps

                                              They used to find their way into our "fun' and "summery" cocktails.
                                              Now my tastes have changed in favor of classic cocktails with fresh ingredients, and these 2 nasty bottles just taste like brilliantly colored industrial waste.

                                              1. Worst was Root Beer Schnapps when I was in high school. I was so sick.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: mojoeater

                                                  simliar high school snafu... sloe gin,very sweet, me and riend decided to pour into 1/2 way empty fruit juice carton from stewart's and walked down main street sipping through straws! winter... snow;i got sick;yuk!

                                                2. Best: Four Roses single barrel.
                                                  Worst: Rain vodka. Pretty bottle. Pretty awful vodka.