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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 ago...at 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.

                                      www.kindredcocktails.com | 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.

                                        www.kindredcocktails.com | 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.

                                                  1. Worst: BOLS brand liquers from Argentina when I lived in southern Bolivia in the 70s. The crazy German, Wolfe, would come by and mix em all up, drink, and start howling.

                                                    Best: a) cases of duty free Flor de Cana (rum) as part of our yearly allocations, b) Jim Beam to go along with gas station dogs, corn dogs, and "burgers" and US TV while on layovers in the US.

                                                    1. I followed the marketing and bought myself a bottle of Hendrick's and now cannot get enough of this unique gin.

                                                      I also followed a cosmo-sipper's advice and bought raspberry Boru vodka. I don't remember much aside from one of us forcing herself to chug it and then asking "Why?" in a very Nancy Kerriganesque voice.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. I'm not a big liquor drinker, but I do have some fond, and not so fond memories.

                                                        Best: my first bottle of Campari. Served with just a bit of ice, I still love the herby-spicy flavor of it.

                                                        Worst: cachaça. I don't care how much lime and sugar you muddle together and mix with it, it still tastes like paint remover.

                                                        8 Replies
                                                        1. re: Cachetes

                                                          You got paint remover? I thought it tasted like antifreeze.

                                                          My worst was the Tres Anis from Puerto Rico. The bottle is cool- a huge sugar crystal with stems planted in it. And it might be fine if you like that flavor- I can barely tolerate it in anything. At least it looks cool in the bar.

                                                          Best is a toss up between Ron del Barrilitos, Ron Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, and Guatamalan Zaya.

                                                          1. re: Coconuts

                                                            Barrilito Tres Estrellas MMMMMMmmmmmmm.

                                                            1. re: Coconuts

                                                              I got formaldehyde - but then it was a cheap bottle (Pitu), I am interested in trying a better brand because I can see some flavor characteristics that could be good - but they are overshadowed by the unpleasant aspects.

                                                              I would say the same thing about the Monte Alban Mezcal I have.

                                                            2. re: Cachetes

                                                              There's cachaca and then there's cachaca. Don't damn them all :)

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                Just for you, I promise to try it again if given the chance, especially if it's with an experienced cachaca drinker. But I'm not guaranteeing I'm going to like it!

                                                                1. re: Cachetes

                                                                  Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!! Do a search here and you'll get plenty of recs for cachacas. Try one of those at a bar. And report back, okay? We're heading back to Rio in July and I intend to do some sipping (and maybe a little gulping of caipirinhas) myself.

                                                                  1. re: Cachetes

                                                                    an easy to find one, that you can't go wrong with, is Leblon cachaca.

                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                      Our Leblon cachaca is no longer easy to find. It left us and went to Miami.

                                                              2. Best: many years ago there was a delivery strike in New York City and one couldn't get a bottle of Chivas Regal Scotch for love nor money. My liquor store guy recommended Johnnie Walker Black Label. I switched and never went back to the inferior Chivas.

                                                                Worst: *every* time we have Chinese friends over I pick up a bottle of Wu Liang Ye or Moutai -- sorghum spirits. This stuff is just awful. Our guests never finish the bottle, and then it just hangs around. I just can't stomach this stuff.

                                                                I have other worsts: every time I find a wine that's priced waaay too low, but I fall prey to the promises on the bottle, I regret it.

                                                                1. Worst by far was a liter bottle of Sotol for 3.99 at Spec's in Houston. It had an interesting drawing of a campesino and Sotol plant on the label. Absolutely rank taste with a very strong smell that fills the room when the bottle is opened.
                                                                  Best: Bundaberg rum from Australia, love the smoky taste.

                                                                  1. I agree about Midori; it tastes like bottled chemicals.

                                                                    Best: Frangelica. I use in chocolate recipes (no one can figure out why the chocolate is so good), poured over ice cream and simply over ice. It's sublime!

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: dawnb

                                                                      I am getting repetitive here but Frangelico Mmmmmmmm.

                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                        Frangelico is my biggest mistake. It just tastes like fake flavoring to me, even though it's apparently all natural. I tried it a few times, and gave the rest of the bottle to a friend who liked it.

                                                                        Best was probably Tres Generaciones Anejo tequila.

                                                                        1. re: guilty

                                                                          I need more friends like you, guilty--simply LURVE Frangelico. Makes a killer chocolate cake shot, too. Hey, StriperGuy, cheers!!!

                                                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                            I consider it one of teh all time booze greats.

                                                                    2. Thirty years ago I picked up a bottle of grappa. Compared to this marc tasted delightful. It had an intense initial flavour of universal solvent with a long finish - to be more precise, the liquid dishwasher Finish.

                                                                      Most enjoyable? A bottle of Amarone a guest brought. Never quite matched it.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                          Made the same way, but they used to taste different. Probably just the grape pomace they used. The French marc had overtones of deisel while the grappa was more aviation fuel.

                                                                          I think they both fell into the category of eau de vile.

                                                                          The modern grappas are a distinct improvement - but I still don't like them.

                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                            Hmmmm, I LOVE grappa and any marc brandy. The old school diesely keroseney (aviation fuel) is part of what I like.

                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                              It was April 1st when you wrote that.


                                                                        2. re: Paulustrious

                                                                          Depends upon the grappa -- while I agree most are/can be like universal solvent, some are positively glorious . . .

                                                                        3. Best: Campari, bought about a month and a half ago. It got me out of my rut of G&Ts and single malt Scotch. A Negroni is my current favorite cocktail.

                                                                          Worst: E&J XO Brandy. My first bottle of brandy. I didn't like it straight and don't like it in a sidecar, either. The only thing I can do with it is mix it with Kahlua and milk to make a White Russian variation. Can't taste the brandy at all that way.

                                                                          I'm not sure if I just don't like brandy, or what. I'm gonna try Cognac next and hope I like it better.

                                                                          1. Best: Elijah Craig 12. It made me realize that good bourbon didn't stop with Maker's Mark. It's not my favorite bourbon anymore, but it was absolutely pivotal.

                                                                            Worst: I cheaped out and bough Kamora and Amaretto de Amore instead of Kahlua and Di Saronno. Both are noticeably inferior to their more expensive brethren.

                                                                            1. I would have put Midori on my list of worst purchases,but this St. Patrick's day I made a drink with it for my wife and it was pretty tasty.I wanted to make a green colored cocktail for her,so I mixed a small amount of Midori(maybe a tablespoon) with some citrus vodka,lime juice,simple syrup and peach bitters.Shook it with some ice, poured it into a coupe glass and topped it with champagne.If I had any mint I would have thrown some in there also.It had a nice green color and tasted good.

                                                                              1. Worst: Poland Spring Gin, Wild Turkey American Honey (gag, gag, gag), Cabin Fever (a maple syrup liqueur, but tasted more like diesel fuel.), Don Q Limon, and Veev Acai. (I just don't like fruity flavored spirits.)

                                                                                Best: Wow, way too many to list. Actually I don't buy much liquor anymore since I get gifts from the booze fairy on a regular basis. (Samples from companies and distilleries.) But some of the best things to come into my hands lately include several great tequila's and mezcal's like Illegal Mezcal and Mezcal Del Maguey. Also some of the older rye's like Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 yr and 23 yr. Also I had some really old Ferrand cognacs, ranging from 30-75 yr old, and one that was from 1914. Also just recently I had Remy Martin Louis XIII Rare Cask, my notes say "Alchemy ! !" and "Delightful... honey, spicecake, fruit... with a minty follow through" Only 768 bottles and only 30 allocated to the United States. Also the wonderful and unique Perique Liqueur (a blend of brandies and perique tobacco, a fermented tobacco from louisiana that is only grown on 40 acres and is used in small quantities as a "spice tobacco" in pipe blends. I used it in several of the blends I created back when I was a tobacco blender.) given me by the distiller Ted Breaux. I was fortunate to get the first bottle sent to the US. It isn't available here, only in Europe in limited quantities, and was only made once, but he tells me it will be made again some time this year.

                                                                                And of course there are the spirits I distill myself... ;-)> Rum, brandies, and gin so far. (The first to hit the shelves will be a 19th century farmhouse style peach brandy, aged in very small, new charred barrels; which should be available by next fall. I start distilling this month.)

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                  Mezcal Del Maguey: I 2nd that, though I've only had the one from Minero.

                                                                                2. Great Question!

                                                                                  Tough call here as I have been in the business for years and some of these weren't necessarily purchases but things I've had bottles of as samples. This had the added benefit that I got to try nearly everything of even remote interest before having to shell out my hard earned duckets but I digress, here are the low-lights and highlights. Oh, and the bests are becuase they were surprises, amazing values or special circumstances and I have spent my own money on all of them.

                                                                                  Worst: Tequila Rose, Theo P, Par-dee-Shots, Hiram Walker Sourballs, Old Pulteny Scotch, Scoresby (holy crap this is BAD scotch and I actually did buy a case of this for a freqeunt guest that evidently had no tongue) and this super-orante bottle of tank-fuel in China in 1993 that everyone said was the most popular drink in town. Okay this list could go on...Blavod, 99 Banana's etc, but I will be merciful to everyone's mental tastebuds.

                                                                                  Best: Elijah Craig 12 year old, Beam Black Label, Glendronach 15 year old (glad to see them back after being mothballed in 2002), Tito's Vodka (lived in Austin at the time and was sure it was bottled butt-sweat until I tried it), Pritchard's Rum (American Rum made in Tennessee. Google), El Tesoro Repsado, Pampero Anniversario and a couple bottles of Havana Club that may or may have not made it back to the United States.

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: ellaystingray

                                                                                    Oh God! I had forgotten about the 99 Bananas! Someone brought a bottle to a tailgate party, and we gave it to the guy who was wandering around giving free shots with the stipulation that he couldn't bring it back!

                                                                                    Pritchard's Rum is pretty decent bourbon. I'm not so sure I like it as rum though.

                                                                                    I need to append my previous bad list- Carolina Catdaddy Moonshine is awful.

                                                                                    1. re: Coconuts

                                                                                      Pritchard's Distillery makes a couple of rums and also ages and re-bottles a bourbon (which it does not make). Not the same spirit.

                                                                                      1. re: Coconuts


                                                                                        That is actually a very funny comment. However, I actually bought my Pritchard's at the distillery in Kelso, from Phil Pritchard and if you get a chance to see his passion the product starts to taste that much better. It is pretty cool that he is trying to make rum the way it was made in the South long before whiskey was the drink of choice.

                                                                                        And speaking of Bourbon, that is a side project practically. They make rum and just fiddle around with other stuff. If Phil had his way, they would be known for rum.

                                                                                        1. re: Coconuts

                                                                                          99 Bananas isn't for drinking, it's for lighting on fire. It makes great Bananas Foster, and that's why I own a bottle.

                                                                                      2. Best: Hendrick's, followed by Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka. I had been infusing my own, but hadn't found a vodka that produced as clean of a cucumber flavor as the Crop. Plus I just found out that Safeway carries it and it goes on sale frequently. I hope they don't stop carrying it... Must. Buy. More. Vodka. (And, you should, too.)

                                                                                        Worst: A $75 bottle of oak barrel-aged anejo. It had a pretty metal tree design on the bottle and I was 21. Smelled and tasted like paint thinner.

                                                                                        1. Most disappointing:
                                                                                          Parfait Amour. What was I thinking/expecting??? Should have researched until I found the quote that it tastes like dissolved grape jelly beans.
                                                                                          Pyrat XO. Almost a Shrubb, but I didn't like the bitter orange flavor (and this from someone who loves bitter). I just couldn't get my head around it neat. OK in cocktails where the vile flavors have something with which to play, but too pricey for that.
                                                                                          Disaronno. I don't generally like amaretto, and I bought a bottle to try some cocktails that used it. Had to re-buy Luxardo. May pour it out or make cookies or something.

                                                                                          Best surprise:
                                                                                          Clontarf (regular black label). A really good $20-$25 Irish for everyday drinking. Plenty good enough to enjoy neat. A good second drink for when the first one has been top-shelf.

                                                                                          Turned out even better than hoped:
                                                                                          Cynar. Hadn't had it since my 20's. Super versatile in cocktails. Good with soda and lemon. Loves whiskey in the way that Campari loves gin.

                                                                                          1. Worst, off the top of my head (very few things go down the drain. these did):

                                                                                            Jack Spiced Rum No 94 - marketed like a small-batch, handcrafted spiced rum. Tastes like grain alcohol steeped with industrial cinnamon. Lots of burn and zero rum character.

                                                                                            Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey - Indescribably bad. Sour flavor reminiscent of the smell of a public urinal. Tried using it in cocktails and the flavor shoots right to the front. Disgusting.

                                                                                            Most disappointing after lots of buildup: Foursquare Spiced Rum. Spent two years searching for this after seeing it again and again mentioned as the best spiced rum in the world. Finally found it and ... meh. Not much flavor or character to speak of. Not good enough to sip straight, and it gets totally lost in a cocktail if any citrus is used.

                                                                                            Most overpriced in recent memory: 1792 Ridgemont Reserve bourbon. I bought it, admittedly, because the bottle looks really cool. Described on one forum, quite effectively, as tasting like "brown vodka". Definitely not worth the investment.

                                                                                            Best? That's much trickier to quantify. There are lots of great spirits out there and I have a fairly large collection. So "best" will have to be a a function of value - quality vs. price. Here are two off the top of my head:

                                                                                            Wild Turkey Rye. $17. One of the best mixing ryes on the market. Complex, nuanced, relatively smooth, fantastic.

                                                                                            Plantation Rum's Trinidad variety. $30. I reach for this bottle more often than any other rum in my collection (about 60) when I'm mixing. Funky, slightly phenolic, and rich, it really cuts through complex punches and tiki drinks.

                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                              Where did you score the Plantation Trinidad? I have quite a rum collection myself and have not tried that particular one.

                                                                                              I've been on a Lemon Hart kick lately for rummy mixed drinks.

                                                                                              For sipping I either go with Brugal Anejo (very delicate) or Barrilito 3 Star.

                                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                I believe I bought my current bottle of Plantation Trinidad at the Kappy's on Route 1. BTW, if you can find it, the Panama variety is ridiculously good, and more of a sipping rum. Not a big fan of the Jamaican, and I found the Barbados to be a bit on the dull side.

                                                                                                Another I should have mentioned is Barbancourt 5-Star. Fantastic value and versatility at $20.

                                                                                                Lemon Hart is great stuff too, especially the 151, now unfortunately discontinued. Have heard that Goslings 151 will be a good sub, but haven't seen it anywhere.

                                                                                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                  Yah, big fan of anything from Barbancourt. The 5 star actually might be the most under-appreciated booze out there for under $20.

                                                                                              2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                Got a local source for $17 Wild Turkey Rye? I enjoy the stuff quite a lot (since the Boston area rye selection has seemed a little picked over the last few months), but I think it's been about $27 the last couple times I've bought it (in Davis Square & Cambridge Wine & Spirits).

                                                                                                1. re: skokefoe

                                                                                                  Try Kappy's or other cheaper/lower-end liquor stores. Or take a road trip to NH!

                                                                                                  I love Davis Square, especially for the beer selection, but their prices are 20% higher than everywhere else.

                                                                                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                    Agreed, they have a pretty consistent rye selection (and some other goodies, like Laird's Apple Brandy (100 proof version), but it seems like every few months they jack up the price on their whiskey a couple dollars. Love NH stores, but pretty weak rye selection - at least you can search online to check out inventory though...

                                                                                                2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                  I completely agree about Wild Turkey Rye. I use it for Rye Old Fashioneds, and it can't be beat. When my meyer lemons ripen, I also use it for a killer rock and rye.

                                                                                                  On a side note, my worst ever liquor purchase was actually a beer purchase. One Halloween season, we were having a young neighbor over for a little fall fest of New England boiled dinner, and I spotted Pumpkin Ale at World Market. What a good idea, I thought! Wrong. We had our first sip and in unison all declared that it tasted like potpourri.

                                                                                                  1. re: akagarfish

                                                                                                    Love WT Rye.

                                                                                                    That depends on which pumpkin ale you have, there are some very good ones and some that are over the top with spices (which some people like).

                                                                                                    Cotttonwood is one that is over the top, though I like it on occasion. Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin is my favorite, it is a 10% ABV beer with a well-balanced taste. Dogfish Head Punkin ale and Brooklyns Post Road are good but subtle on the spices. Southern Tier's Pumking has the rep of being over-the-top, Ive only had it once on tap and I found it bland, but I was eating spicy food which might have numbed my palate, haven't had the chance to try it again.

                                                                                                3. One of my best--Pimms. I forgot I had it & then made Pimm's cups last weekend. I had forgotten how much I liked them--they are now my new summer drink.

                                                                                                  1. A merchant in Austin, I wish I could remember his name or his store, somewhere around S. Congress, let me rummage through the odd lots in his spider-webbed basement. I climbed back up with a d'Yquem sauterne, full bottle, vintage in the early 70's, that had a price sticker of $105. The owner laughed hysterically and said it would cost him 3 times that amount to replace it, but he sold it to me for $105. That's a good guy. Maybe someone knows who it would be?

                                                                                                    1. Best: Fernet Stock Citrus (no longer available in the US :( )
                                                                                                      great with tonic for a summer drink
                                                                                                      Agavero (tequila liqueur) awesome mixed or straight

                                                                                                      Worst: Wasabi liqueur (I'll admit, the idea of owning it is awesome but the flavor is just gastly)

                                                                                                      1. Best is tough. Worst is easier. Butterscotch-flavored schnapps to use in a drink called an Oatmeal Cookie, which I was designed to gross out my friends in a nightly cocktail contest we were holding in a group-house summer vacation (I made good cocktails the other nights).


                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                          My original post for worst was going to be Mickey Finn's butterscotch and vanilla liqueur. Totally gross, my wife bought it to make apple-tinis for her church friends.

                                                                                                        2. Best bottle of hooch was a bottle of Hendrick's Gin. I hate gin, it's normally so nasty but this premium stuff was a real eye opener. A Negroni made with Hendricks is my new favorite Summer drink.

                                                                                                          The worst was Goldschlager. Blech.

                                                                                                          1. For me my best discovery has been Tito's Vodka. You can't beat the price, it's American made.

                                                                                                            1. I'll stick to the worst (for me that is, though I know others love it) Campari. It is at the bottom of my very limited list. I bought it to try a raved about drink, the Negroni. It is just too bitter/tart for words. I modified the original recipe which mollified and made it tollerable but I still can't say I can enjoy it. And because of that I won't print it out here - too painful.

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: feelinpeckish

                                                                                                                It is an acquired taste. It took me about 20 years of trying it about every 5 years to acquire it. Once acquired, it is one of the great pleasures.

                                                                                                                Try it with just some soda and a huge squeeze of lime. Maybe 1 oz of Campari, 1/2 oz lime, and fill the glass with soda/seltzer. It is definite more accessible with an acid to balance the bitter and sweet.

                                                                                                                I'm an "experienced" Campari drinker and it took me a few Negroni (plural?) to grow to love the drink.

                                                                                                                Another great option for you would be Aperol. It's sort of the gateway aperitif. It also mixes well with Campari to make, strangely, a grapefruit flavor.

                                                                                                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                  Agreed on Campari being an acquired taste for some. I always hated it, but I came to love bitters, and often it's the only bitter available in bars. So I tried my best, and now I love it.

                                                                                                                  1. My best liquor purchase is a slam dunk. It was in the mid-1980's. Rays in Milwaukee had all these Gordon&McPhail bottlings of single malt whiskies that were gathering dust. Nobody knew anything about single malts back then, so they put them at HALF PRICE. So I took about eight bottles to the counter, including a couple Caol Isla 13's, and also a 24-year-old Longmorn (!) that was so long in the wood that it tasted like maple, coal, lilacs and kerosene, and the clerk looked at the first bottle (the cheapest) and charged me the same half-price for ALL of them. So they were $10.50 each. Best liquor purchase ever. Worst liquor purchase ever was a bottle of mezcal in Cancun.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: dwh

                                                                                                                      There is extraordinary mezcal, but not to be found in Cancun.

                                                                                                                    2. I have so many things I love, so I'll frame this best/worst in terms of value for money...

                                                                                                                      Best: Bowmore Legend Darkest scotch. Now it hits the $60-70 mark, but when I bought my first bottle, it was coming in around $25-30. What a steal!

                                                                                                                      Worst: Zen Green Tea liqueur for $20. In my opinion, too expensive at any price, and I can't give this damn stuff away.

                                                                                                                      1. Worst: This is actually a rather rare occurrence. It's quite easy to pick the worst, because there have been so few. Clearly the worst purchase has been "Chaufe-Coeur" Rum. The label itself is a bit odd, which should have been my clue! the label reads as follows:

                                                                                                                        "Chauffe-Coeur" (quotes on the label)
                                                                                                                        RUM (note the spelling)
                                                                                                                        Appellation Rhum Contrôlée
                                                                                                                        Dark Rhum
                                                                                                                        Aged over 7 years in Oak Casks
                                                                                                                        Produced in Martinique
                                                                                                                        750ml 47% alc. by vol.
                                                                                                                        Produced and Bottled in France
                                                                                                                        by Chais Chauffe-Coeur
                                                                                                                        E. Laborie, Le Costil Rouge F14340

                                                                                                                        ---> How could it be produced in BOTH Martinique AND France?????

                                                                                                                        Anyway, as wonderful as Rhums Agricoles can be, this one sucks!

                                                                                                                        * * * * *

                                                                                                                        Best is difficult. There are so many . . . probably, though, I'd have to say it was the Domaine Familial Louis Dupont Calvados du Pays d'Auge plus 15 ans that I carried back from my visit to the estate.

                                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                          Judging by the level of detail you supplied, I gather you haven't finished it yet.

                                                                                                                          I wonder what is the maximum number of house moves for a bottled of liquor. I have a Italian bitter-herb thing that has lasted through 3 locations and crossed international borders twice.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                            Sounds like it's an amaro of some type. What is it?

                                                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                              It is an Amaro. We have a few of them. This particular one (to my taste) is just too bitter.

                                                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                  I've just discovered it is a Hungarian bitter, not an Amaro. It has lain at the back for so long I'd forgotten that (and its name). The name is almost as bad as the taste.

                                                                                                                                  Zwack Unicum. ( Honest! )

                                                                                                                                  One I do like is Borsci St Marzano, but we cannot get it in Ontario.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                    Zwack Unicum is a fantastic bitter herbal liqueur. One of the darlings of the high end cocktail world. I love using it in cocktails. It is very complex, but works very well with all kinds of ingredients. I have had cocktails using Zwack at several highend cocktail bars recently, and actually had a nice aperitif highball last night of Zwack over ice with seltzer. Very tasty and refreshing.

                                                                                                                                    The Zwack available right now in the US is a mellower version of the Unicum available in Europe, which is a better product, just more full bodied, complex, and bitter.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                      Well, it's not for me. But I do like pink Plymouth gins.

                                                                                                                                      My Unicom (this is sounding perverse) came from Italy over 20 years ago. So I lied before. It has crossed international boundaries five times.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                        The disappearance of UNICUM in the USA was a sad event. The product currently sold in the USA in the familiar round bottle (and labeled as ZWACK) is a sad shadow of the original. I wrote a kind note to the importers and they basically blew me off.

                                                                                                                                        Ironic, since there are still a large amount of older generation Hungarians (both first and second generation) living in the US who regularly purchased UNICUM.

                                                                                                                                        The current version sold here just doesn't cut it.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                          I wouldn't say Zwack doesn't cut it. but it's like Unicum is a real big bald bruiser bitters/digestif, and Zwack is the roly, poly, sweet cousin liqueur. I actually like Zwack, but it isn't Unicum.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                            Right. Maybe the ZAWCK isn't as bad as I made it sound, but it is certainly a pale cousin to the original. Then again, further research reveals that what was sold as UNICUM for many years (while Hungary was still under the Soviet thumb) was not even the real deal.
                                                                                                                                            So I'm more confused now. Still, I find the ZWACK to be too sweet for my liking. There are some bitters out of Denmark that seem to be an ok replacement for the UNICUM that I miss.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                              It certainly is confusing with recipes. Sometimes it calls for "Zwack" and you have to infer from the ingredients which was intended. I think the following was intended for Unicum. When I made it with Zwack, I had to add the lime for acid balance.

                                                                                                                                              Yes, sipping it neat it certainly is very sweet.

                                                                                                                                              Red Danube
                                                                                                                                              by Toby (Alchemist) eGullet

                                                                                                                                              2 oz Zwack liqueur
                                                                                                                                              1 oz Sweet vermouth, Punt e Mes
                                                                                                                                              1/2 oz Campari
                                                                                                                                              1/2 oz Lime juice
                                                                                                                                              3 ds Orange bitters, Regans' orange bitters

                                                                                                                                              Expressed Orange Peel (lots), Stir, Straight Up, Cocktail glass

                                                                                                                                              www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                                                                                                            2. Best: Carpano Antica sweet vermouth has improved more cocktails than I can count but the liter size bottle takes a while to work through and crowds the fridge - but I truly love it.

                                                                                                                              Another best: Veev Acai spirit - discovered in Miami - 70 proof fruity but not sweet spirit that makes a great basil gimlet or other light, citrus-based drinks - always gets raves when served - wish it were more widely available!

                                                                                                                              Worst: Aside the "duh, what did you expect?" ones like Pucker Schnappes and other neon-colored (which does fade if you hold on to the bottle long enough....don't ask why I know this....) artificially fruit-flavored alcoholic syrups, I have to say I am surprised that it's Luxardo Triplum for me - still seeking a tasty sub for boring triple sec that's not Grand Marnier (which I do like) for cocktails, but I think I am going to have to pitch (which pains me) the Triplum - it just doesn't taste good in the drinks I need it for, like margaritas and periodistas. Next up are Clement Creole Shrubb and a French recommendation called Beauchant (sp?) - fingers crossed!

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: rlh

                                                                                                                                Clement Creole Shrub is fantastic. My past top purchases in triple sec category include Gabriel Boudier Curacao Triple Sec (just . . . awesome) and Prunier liqueur d'orange. Any of those three should serve you quite well. Haven't tried the Triplum, but am not in a hurry to now.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                  All the Clement products are great.

                                                                                                                                2. re: rlh

                                                                                                                                  For me the Veev is on the worst list. I find it truly sickeningly sweet and imitation tasting. I know the brand owners and reps, they're part of my group of friends, so I smiled when they gave me a bottle, but I just don't care for it.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: rlh

                                                                                                                                    Another best that's also a GREAT value - Johnny Drum Bourbon 101 proof bonded - under $25 and an amazing less smooth, more complicated bourbon that's closer to rye without being rye - best Manhattans ever (with the Carpano noted above and Bitter Truth aromatic blend bitters) - now if they can just start selling the Johnny Drum in New England somewhere - anywhere (or I'll have a good excuse to visit Louisville, KY again...)

                                                                                                                                  2. Worst:
                                                                                                                                    Goldschlager and the celery flavored schnapps some brought to a party in germany one time
                                                                                                                                    Close second:
                                                                                                                                    Hendricks gin. I love gin. This tastes like some very cheap perfume. I keep it on the shelf for pretentious people.
                                                                                                                                    Calvados. Everytime I have some it reminds me of fall in France.

                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: tanker64

                                                                                                                                      I like Hendricks. Their website is reminiscent of MPFC. You will know what MPFC is if you go there... http://www.hendricksgin.com

                                                                                                                                      Note: website has sound.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: tanker64

                                                                                                                                        Close second IS indeed Hendricks!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                          Best buy Highland Park 25 yr old nothing is better! Tasted almost every scotch LCBO carries at the yearly wine and cheese shows at Pearson Convention centre. This is the one. Not as smokey as Ardbeg, or its evil brother Supernova which is a liquid campfire with cigarettes tossed in. I like Calvados too, great on apple or pear sorbet or sherbet. Old Krupnicks Honey Liquer seems to blend with anything. Worst buy Campari jesus its bad a glass of Angostura would be better. Haven't tried Cynar- artichoke booze hmmmm. Old Tom Gin is supposed to be good anyone tried it?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                            I'll venture to guess that if you don't like campari, you probably won't love cynar. Campari is bitter, yes, but to my palette it has much sweeter high notes than cynar does. I love them both, but only rarely drink them straight. Try your campari as a cocktail mixer, or as a simple addition to a glass of seltzer -- you might find ways to enjoy it so the bottle doesn't feel like a waste.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: litchick

                                                                                                                                              Really? I still have a hard time with Campari, but Cynar doesn't bother me as much. To me, at least, Cynar doesn't tend to take over a drink quite as quickly, and the bitterness is more in the finish than right out front.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: will47

                                                                                                                                                Hm, interesting take. I can see that.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: litchick

                                                                                                                                                  Recently tried Johnny Walker Green label it was quite a good blend, nicely smoked. I remember The Macallan 17 year old being very good but sweet with lots of sherry notes candied fruit etc. I Moniacks Mead was not as good as hoped with sour afternotes to the honey initial taste. Lochan Ora is a good alternative to Drambuie not as sweet and over powering.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: tanker64

                                                                                                                                          Celery Schnapps- the mind boggles

                                                                                                                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                            Mm,mm, a shot of Celery Schnapps with Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda as a chaser...

                                                                                                                                        3. Worst:
                                                                                                                                          Cherry Kirsch (is that an oxymoron)
                                                                                                                                          Bought it for a cherry clafouti recipe. Reminded me of cherry cough syrup. Trying to find a use for it.

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                                            What brand is it? Kirsch is an especially popular eau du vie and can range from total garbage (Hiram Walker brand @ $8.00/bottle) up to some fairly high end stuff (Kammer Black Forest @ $50+/bottle). If it's the cheap stuff, use it as drain cleaner... No reason to waste space in your cabinet for it. BTW, it's also nice to dash into cheese fondue.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                              i believe de kuyper, and yeah it was cheap

                                                                                                                                            2. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                                              The Clear Creek Kirshwasser is very, very nice. While my German/Jewish grandparents died before I was of legal drinking age, I remember the Kirsh set for special occasions. I recently served some to a new German friend (i.e. he's from Germany), and he really enjoyed it.

                                                                                                                                              It also mixes very well, but is a touch expensive.

                                                                                                                                              I can't imagine it tasting like cough syrup, though, as it isn't sweetened. Maybe that was cherry "brandy"? I would think that cheap kirsch is about as tasty as cheap grappa.

                                                                                                                                            3. Best is a tie between - Don Julio 1942 (tequila), which when you taste it is heavenly and smooth as silk and - Carpano Antica - making Manhattans and Martinez cocktails with Carpano is like nothing you've ever tried before.

                                                                                                                                              Worst - so far - is Hendrick's, which I think tastes completely medicinal and I just can't drink at all - Plymouth or Boodles (or Hayman's Old Tom's Gin) are so much better.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. Best I'd have to say Boodle's gin. It got me into gin, which I discovered by sipping slowly I love. And also got my friends (who'd only had crap gin) into gin as well. Also Kraken spiced rum is up there, sweet, dark, with hints of vanilla goes great in cocktails. St. Germain also really amazing and easy to use in many cocktails. Worst I'd have to is Midori, the stuff is nasty. It was fun when I 21 and didn't know shit about cocktails, but the stuff is like bottled syrup, waaay to sweet. Another bad purchase was Irish cream liquor, I discovered because of it I hate whiskey even when masked by cream and sugar.

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: YAYME

                                                                                                                                                  most Irish cream liqueurs don't have any whiskey in them. They have neutral spirits and assorted flavorings. When Midori first came out it was a decent liqueur, but they changed the formula a few years later and now it's ghastly.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                    One of those flavorings must be whiskey because I can't stomach Baileys but I love Castries Peanut Cream.

                                                                                                                                                2. One Christmas I was worked as a stock clerk in the liquor department of a department store. They ran a clearance of odd bottles, and I picked up several. Ouzo (Metaxa?) was a lot of fun, as it paralyzed the tongue. Worst was some Rhine wine that had gone "off". Bleah!

                                                                                                                                                  1. The worst, a bottle of "Navy Grog" (brand) brandy, bottled and purchased in Egypt, yeah, Egypt, absolutely undrinkable in any sense of the word; a very harsh bite, overwhelming petroleum finish. Hard to say what the brandy's country of origin was, didn't really matter. As is said, you couldn't give this stuff away.

                                                                                                                                                    Galliano and Midori are pretty high on my no can do list.

                                                                                                                                                    The best? It's yet to come, but I find Barbancourt 5 Star 8 Year Old Haitian rum to be very close to the finish line these days.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I try to forget the bad experience (though I still remember some Turkish wine with honey:-( ). But the experience that changed my taste was Yellow wasp plum brandy slivovitz: I fell in love with a story that the partcular sort of wasp visits only the purest flowers and the slivovitz is hand-crafted only of the plum whose flowers were visited by yellow wasp.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ahaa

                                                                                                                                                        So was the slivovitz good? I hear it is.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Best - tough call, but right now I would have to say Booker's bourbon.
                                                                                                                                                        Worst - probably a bottle of Chinese sorghum spirit. Smells awful, tastes worse.

                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ed1066

                                                                                                                                                          LIkely the Booker's was way more expensive than the Chinese sorghum spirit, which actually goes really well if you make some very greasy pot stickers fried in lard.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                                            Screaming Eagle single cask bourbon was pretty rough but not horrid I liked Rookers and Bullit as well. Presently drinking Sazerac Rye from Buffalo Trace quite different from Canadian ryes like Crown

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                                              Rye is the name for whiskey in Canada. In the US, rye means whiskey withn a mashbill of at least 51% rye grain. Totally different things really.

                                                                                                                                                              I find Canadian whiskies very smooth, not spicy as American rye often is.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: zagatsreader

                                                                                                                                                                the reason many Canadian whiskies are smooth is that they are mostly blends, with quite a lot of clean neutral spirit (basically high test vodka) in them.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ed1066

                                                                                                                                                            Send me the Maotai. Love that stuff. Little like stinky tofu. Gotta love that grappa mixed with stinky diapers smell. Bit of an acquired taste I guess. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                          3. Worst: Southern Comfort Lime (yuk) or Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon (gross)

                                                                                                                                                            Best: Woodford Bourbon Single Barrel Reserve

                                                                                                                                                            1. best - probably the Pusser's Navy rum (blue label) I got a few days ago, already halfway through the bottle.

                                                                                                                                                              Worst - any vodka by Burnett's, overpriced even at ~$7 - other than their Sweet Tea which actually would be one of my best buys.

                                                                                                                                                              1. Worst: Tuaca... why, oh why did I buy it? Can't think of anything to do with it, but on principle I hate pouring stuff down the drain. Close 2nd would be Lucid absinthe. It's not horribe per se, but there are so many better absinthes out there and that sh*t lasts forever.

                                                                                                                                                                Best: Redbreast Irish whisky - had no idea irish whisky could be so amazingly good. My bottle of Del Maguey Chichicapa would have been number one, but I didn't actually purchase it. Was a great gift from my mother-in-law.

                                                                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                    The overly sweet vanilla flavor is okay in a coffee or something like that, but it mostly overpowers anything you add it to. Unless you're trying to make some god-awful vanilla "martini", it's going to last a long time.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: slabbit

                                                                                                                                                                      It's a pretty good shot, though, if you fancy such things.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                                                      It's a Mezcal from Del Maguey. Extremely good.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: slabbit

                                                                                                                                                                        More like excellent. Ron Cooper gave me a bottle each of his whole line up and I thought I died and went to heaven.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: slabbit

                                                                                                                                                                      Tuaca makes a fine hot apple cider...tastes like hot apple pie.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                        Might give it a try. Normally like a little apple brandy or applejack in my cider.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. On one better purchases - A few years agao, one of the Longs Drug stores in Southern California was closing down and many their wines were marked down. Found a few bottles of the Clos du Bois "Marlestone" but no prices. Asked the person in charge how much, he shrugged and says how about $3 a bottle. Okay, I can handle that, and since you're in process of getting rid of these wines by chance, you got any more in the back? Sure - I'll check. --- yes, got another case, you want it for the same price - sure - more than happy to help out and relieve you of your inventory.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. The best (at least most interesting)- a tie between Mandarin Napoleon and the violette liqueurs

                                                                                                                                                                        The worst- an artichoke liqueur that didn't taste like anything edibloe at all. It tasted like an industrial solvent and smelled just as bad. It's been 35 years and I still get the all-overs when I think of it.

                                                                                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                          Artichoke liqueur? Sounds like Cynar -- one of my favorites :-)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                              I too felt the little stab at my heart.... ;)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                                                                                Oh man- you mean I'm going to have to go out and find more and taste it again??

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                  Cynar is fantastic but like all the italian amaros, it's definitely an acquired taste. I actually think Cynar is more approachable than Campari because it's a little sweeter, but the best one to get your feet wet with is Aperol. Try em with some soda water first before you drink it on the rocks.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: slabbit

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think Amaro Lucano or Amaro Mio are great intro choices for the more herbal amari (as compared to the citrusy Campari and Aperol). Both are on the sweet side and not over the top bitter.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                      Both of those are digestivo amaros vs the traditionally appertivo amaros like Cynar, Campari, and Aperol. I think in the digestivo realm, Ramazzotti is a great intro. I haven't tasted Lucano or Mio.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: slabbit

                                                                                                                                                                                        Agreed. I love Cynar. It's excellent when used in cocktails requiring a sweeter/less bitter amaro, but my favorite way to drink it might be on the rocks with an orange twist.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Took Mrs. Doc to a garage type sale on some commercial property. There was a vendor wanting to sell some spirits. Mrs Doc came out and got me to go in from the car. The guy said that the watchmaker was paid for some work in this booze. 1 Ltr. Belvedere, 1 Ltr. Jack Black, 1 bottle 750 ml. Woodford Reserve. 4 bottles 750 ml. Hendricks Gin. Great deal for $90.

                                                                                                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                                                                                                                              Who has 4 bottles of Hendricks to use to pay the watchmaker? Was it palpably warm? ;)

                                                                                                                                                                              Fantastic deal.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                                                                                                                                stolen liquor or duty not paid, if they wanted 90 for all of the bottles stolen

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                                                                  They wanted $125 but no takers. The end of the day they wanted $100. I was glad they took my offer of $90.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                                                                                                                                    How did the seals look? I worry when I deal with nefarious people. Why take whisky in trade if you are going to let it go for nothing? A bar in Toronto was selling Port Ellen for $30 a shot, the distillery closed in the 70"s! I offered $21 being skeptical, the cork broke off when he tried to open it. It was badly oxidized but it was the real deal. I got a 50ml sampler and it was the real deal but ya never know. Sampler cost 4 times the shot I got at the bar. The scotch was ok nothing to swoon over, like Oban but leathery.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                                                                      The bottles and corks that are visible look ok to me. Here are some pics. If anyone knows the date code of the case of Hendricks,it would be nice to know.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                                                                                                                                        Spot on lucky bastard, hope the fuzz don't drop by totally stolen for that price. But you never know if someone inherited them and doesnt drink they might give them away. But the Belvedere is not an old brand so looks recent.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                                                                          Will have my first taste of Hendricks this Saturday. I will report back. I know that i like the Jack and the Woodford. I do not know about the Belvedere. I guess that I do not understand vodka. Seem to all taste (or not taste at all) the same to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                                                                                                                                            You will only notice the difference in a martini with dry vermouth, the sweet covers everything. The alcohol burn is much higher with the cheap ones rather than the expensive. This is due to distilling multiple times removing impurities but also cutting the yield down a lot thus the price. Marketing also increases the price. Mythbusters used charcoal filters to improve vodka but it does not make as big a difference as multiple distillations. When mixed you will only notice if you drink vodka a lot, but the sweet or strong mixes mask the burn a lot. Ice cold shots you really get the burn but after 3 you notice less and less. I like 3 oz of Grey Goose with one teaspoon of Noilly Prat and three large green olives.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                                                                              That's not a martini, it's a glass of cold vodka. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                              There are definitely nuances in vodka served neat. Mixed with anything, I think they're virtually interchangeable, which is why I normally use Smirnoff for vodka-based cocktails.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                                                                                                                Grey Goose is indicative of marketing over substance. Vodka in general is a booze marketing scenario and not much else. If you like the stuff, it is pointless to spend any more then a Smirnoff price point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Hendricks tastes great with Canada Dry seltzer and with Schweppes Tonic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Recently switched to Smirnoff 100 great stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. best:
                                                                                                                                                                                  el dorado 15 year rum
                                                                                                                                                                                  ardbeg uigeadail
                                                                                                                                                                                  any del maguey mezcal
                                                                                                                                                                                  batavia arrack
                                                                                                                                                                                  ransom old tom gin
                                                                                                                                                                                  monte alban mezcal
                                                                                                                                                                                  port of barcelona gin
                                                                                                                                                                                  creme yvette (not bad, just don't know what the hell to do with it)
                                                                                                                                                                                  fee's celery bitters

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pb n foie

                                                                                                                                                                                    Use the creme yvette to make Aviation cocktails, or add it to a vodka martini with sweet vermouth for a Dark Crystal.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. My best purchase was Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon about twenty years ago, or so. It unfortunately (for my wallet) gave me the taste for relatively pricey whiskey.
                                                                                                                                                                                    My worst, Lauria Alpensahne Alpine Cream Liqueur, was a recommendation from a liquor store clerk. I found it disgusting with a pulpy, creamy texture. Definitely not something I want to have in my mouth again.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. well over the years it would be hard to choose...so many already named here. But in the last 3 months:
                                                                                                                                                                                      Worst-Stoli Blueberry-undrinkable
                                                                                                                                                                                      Best-Sailor Jerry spiced rum. Delicious!

                                                                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lyn

                                                                                                                                                                                        That blueberry flavored Stoli really is vile.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lyn

                                                                                                                                                                                          if you like Sailor Jerry's, try Cruzan 9 - IMO it is better, I found the SJ a little too sweet (though much better than the Captain.)

                                                                                                                                                                                          If you are lucky enough to find it, grab Foursquare (by R L Seales) - I've only seen it in Florida when I was on vacation, it was recommended by a staff member at Total Wine. Not only is it the best light spiced rum I have tried, but an amazing bargain at $12 - I only wish I had bought a case rather than just one bottle.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                            I hear Old New Orleans Spiced rum is pretty good for spiced rum.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                                                                              I have never come across this in stores or the blogs I read, but the cajun spice does sound interesting and the few reviews I have found were very favorable - including a BTI score of 93.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                                                                                The ONO spiced rum is amazing. Best spiced rum I've ever had, by a huge margin (yes, this includes Foursquare -- which I didn't find to be very interesting). It's assertively enough spiced to stand out in a mix, has a nice real rum flavor, and is quite smooth. All in all, a huge win. Only problem is that it's difficult to get; the only way I managed to acquire some was to take a trip to New Orleans. Luckily, it's a nice place to visit :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Foursquare is not an "assertive" spiced rum., it is subtle. If I want assertive I go to Goslings Black seal or Kraken. Completely different animals. I have also heard that sea Wynde is outstanding but rather pricey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I would never waste my limited supply of Foursquare in a mix, I only sip it neat. I recommended it because lyn said he liked Sailor jerry, which is similar in flavor profile.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, I agree that Foursquare is subtle. Way too subtle as far as I'm concerned; I didn't enjoy it much in any form. I don't really see the point of a subtle spiced rum. I would rather sip a good straight rum if the spice isn't going to be out in front.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    With Foursquare it was like sipping a rather cheap tasting rum with just a bit of spice. Nothing too exciting. It may have been a case of having the stuff way too built up; I'd read praise about it being by far the best spiced rum in the world, etc, and expected to be blown away, not underwhelmed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not a fan of Sea Wynde. It's got a very strong phenolic sort of flavor that makes it, in my opinion, impossible to enjoy straight and which unfortunately cuts right through a mixed drink. I've been able to use it in VERY small quantities (1/8 oz) to add a bit of background funk to tiki drinks, but my bottle is still 3/4 full after two years. Not something I'd recommend. But again, YMMV.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well here is the viewpoint of a guy who knows a lot more about rum than I do, and I read his review after I had tried it - and he does an excellent job of describing my thoughts on it.


                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have to say that after revisiting my bottle of Cruzan 9 last night for the first time in a while, it might not be so great after all. I had it after Foursquare and it tasted rather artificial to me. Still better than Capt Morgan though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well I just opened a bottle of Sea Wynde that just arrived today and I have to say it is - well, definitely potent - and definitely interesting. probably the most potent rum I have tasted yet, I see what you mean about the phenols but my palate enjoys being bludgeoned on occasion, as per my love of Peaty Islay Scotch,

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The company went out of business last year and it is becoming hard to find, let me know if you might like to unload what is left of your bottle, maybe we could work something out. I find it interesting enough to want to get more before it disappears and starts to command collectors prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                          My bottle is now gone. I decided to use it as the base for some punch--I figured it would hide the nasty flavor. I mixed everything up and could still plainly taste the band-aid notes. So I added other rums to the mix (plus lime and sugar to balance) until I could no longer detect it--four additional bottles of rum. And wound up with a much larger batch of punch than was intended. Luckily I managed to find enough people to drink it, and in the end it was actually pretty good ... but I have no interest in ever seeing another bottle of Sea Wynde again :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Totally falling in love with Cocchi Americano. I've always loved Lillet Blanc, but the Cocchi has a bit more depth and isn't quite as sweet.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Worst: Midori, all of the Eastern European-style potato vodkas I've ever tried, Blue Curacao, Parfait Amour (they aren't kidding when they say it tastes like those little stale pastel marshmallows, ick). I've also tried (other people's, thankfully) Goldschlager, Jagermeister, Jack Daniels, and Southern Comfort and hated those too (JD had me thinking I hated whiskey because it was the first one I ever tried and I hated it, still do).

                                                                                                                                                                                                Best (I'm not rich so consider these in terms of value-for-price): Plymouth gin, Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond, Elijah Craig, Blanton's, Basil Hayden, Bulleit, Four Roses (so good for baking with), Lagavulin, Penderyn, Caol Ila, and every one of the amari and like-minded herbal-y or anise-y or aromatized-wine liqueurs I've ever gotten my hands on (especially Fernet, Benedictine, Chartreuse, Punt e Mes, Carpano Antica, Izarra, Pacharan, you know the drill...), Pimm's, Nocello, and Drambuie. Oh, and Korean soju for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                In case you couldn't tell, I'm a gin and whiskey and herbal/spice kinda gal. Tequila, rum, vodka, tiki drinks, not so much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I shouldn't admit this, but for "shamefully outre and cheap pleasant discoveries" I've been delighted by creme de noyaux (during winter I love Pink Squirrels it's true...) and how, depending, it can very cheaply take the place of amaretto. It might just be my imagination but it seems like crappy creme de noyaux is more tolerable than crappy amaretto (or maybe it's just that I'm familiar with high-end amaretto but not creme de noyaux so I don't have anything to compare it to and find wanting?) and, cough, Teacher's blended scotch for cheap scotch cocktails where peat isn't needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                ETA: in terms of disappointment given price or hype, the following were "bad" purchases: Maker's Mark (ugh super sweet in a pinpointy way), Grey Goose. I had Magellan gin out a while back and was amazed at how disappointing it was; I'm getting the impression I dislike the new Frenchy frou frou gins as much as I do the vodkas, for the same reasons. Oh, and flavored vodka is, in my experience, almost always disgusting (that said, home-infused pepper vodka is a-ok).

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm also a huge fan of the more interesting bitters coming out lately. Dirty secret: I never much liked the standard Angostura bitters! Even something as basic and common now as Regan's Orange bitters is just so, so, SO much better to me. Very happy about this esoteric cocktail ingredient revival going on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ifjuly

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't know why you are *coughing* before saying teacher's, it is actually quite well respected and IMO an unbelieveable deal for it's price point - I have heard it is 45% Ardmore, which is an excellent single malt (I have a bottle).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree with you on JD and Maker's, it's a shame they are so much more popular than much better similarly priced brands such as George Dickel and Elijah Craig

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like Blanton's Single Barrel sadly not available in Canada sniff...sniff..:(

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the validation! Everyone in my social circle sniffs at it, thinks scotch has to cost a fortune even if we're talking for making cocktails (which to me is CRAZY TALK, because well, I can't go throwing around $100+ bottles of Lagavulin 16 into drinks!), and doesn't believe in blended scotch at all (I don't for sipping either but hey, I love me a Bobby Burns in the winter time).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ifjuly

                                                                                                                                                                                                        While it's true there are some blends that do not hold up to being taken neat, there are quite a few blended Scotches that are as good or better than comparably priced single malts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have a decent collection of single malts, but still sip White Horse and Teacher's fairly often- there are no single malts in their price range. Jim Murray has been quoted as saying he drinks Johnnie Walker Black at least once a week, and uses it as a yardstick to measure other whiskies.. Johnnie Walker green is a blend of single malts and is very good IMO (and many others),. Johnnie walker gold is outstanding and in many opinions better than the blue label, but it is rather pricey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are several other highly respected blends such as Royal Salute, but most of them get so expensive that they are no longer a bargain compared to single malts. Jim Murray has named ballantine's 17 yr old as THE best whisky OVERALL, but that is highly debated and he has been accused of saying that mainly to be controversial. (why does this damned edit function keep chopping off the ends of my w

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I whole heartedly agree with you. I use Black Label for mixed drinks and on its own. I sometimes experiment with using single malt in a mixed drink but either the sherry barrel finishing or the high smoke or peat wrecks mixed cocktails. If a guest wants a Rusty Nail and the Black Label is gone I'll use Macallan 17 but not normally.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree with you there, peat and smoke would not play well with other flavors in most cocktails. I did try mixing some McClellands Islay into a maple old-fashioned last week (couldn't bring myself to mix my good Islays) and the sweet/smokey flavor was interesting, but I think it would clash with the vermouth in a Manhattan. Might try it though, out of curiosity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                            @Dewster -- Smokey / peaty scotches usually require different recipes, but have fabulous creative potential. One of my favorites, for example, ironically uses sweet vermouth:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Bernet Frankenstein (by Dan Chadwick, me)
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 1/2 oz Islay Scotch, Laphroaig (Qtr Cask)
                                                                                                                                                                                                            3/4 oz Fernet Branca
                                                                                                                                                                                                            3/4 oz Sweet vermouth, Punt e Mes
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 lf Mint
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Serve neat in a scotch glass.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                                                                                                              can't get Fernet Branca here is there a substitute?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TheDewster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Another Fernet would work fine. Luxardo is very similar, and I believe Stock is too. Branca Menta would also work, but I might cut it back to avoid mint taking over your head.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                You could try another strong medicinal amaro. I think Riga Black Balzams might work, but the flavor profile is completely different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                If none of those are available, a similar idea could be done with Cynar. Cynar does not have that in-your-face flavor to stand up to the Laphroig, though. It might be better with something like Bowmore Legend or another milder Islay. It also plays the role of the Punt e Mes. Such a cocktail might be better on the rocks -- I'd have to try it. It also might need more scotch for sugar and flavor balance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Good luck and let us know how you made out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Actually, if you have Cynar, try this:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fumidus (by Zachary Pearson, winning entry in Anvil customer contest):
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 oz Scotch
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 oz Cynar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1/2 oz Sweet vermouth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1/2 oz Lemon juice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 ds Xocolatl Mole bitters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just got a bottle of Zucca Rabarbaro. This stuff kind of reminds me of Cynar (my favorite amaro) but with a really nice spice flavor. It might be my new favorite. Also got a bottle of Amaro Del Capo which I am loving. The world of amari is fun and I want to drink all of it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pb n foie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Where's the "like" button on this thing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    LCBO now stocks Fernet Branca hee hee

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Buying the last bottle of Rittenhouse at my local K&L is always a "good purchase", just did this yesterday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Last weekend I was buying a few dozen artisanal gins (plus a few treats for myself) to add to my spirits library for our distillery. Some were good, some were bad, and three were exceptional.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Blackwood's gin from Scotland is absolutely excellent. A 95 proof spirit with juniper, angelica root, elderflower, wild mint, sea pink, meadow sweet, coriander, violets... it's complex, very clean, hints of floral and herbs, and a tiny note of citrus. It's complex, powerful, and subtle, all at the same time. Very pricey for a gin, but well worth it. I like it on the rocks. $53 at Astor Wine and Spirits in NYC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          As for an excellent rum, I picked up one of those as well. If you like PX sherry, then Dos Maderas PX is for you. It's a blend of fine, five year old Caribbean rums that are then shippeed to Spain where they are aged for five more years. First in American oak casks which held Dos Cortados palo cortado sherry for 20 years. Then moved to casks that held Don Guido PX sherry for 20 years. It's both slightly sweet, slightly bitter, and packed full of flavor. A dark copper color, and you can tell they started with fine rums, then the additional aging in the two types of sherry barrels just up the ante, adding herbaceous notes like in an amaro, with the PX finish, then a pleasant hint of caramel bitterness that lasts and lasts, getting you ready to take another sip. $42 at Astor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          An then for one of the most unique spirits that I have ever had. One that is special for me is Edelster Aventinus. That's right, as in Schneider Aventinus, the dark German, strong and hearty, 8.2% abv, double bock, wheat beer. This is Aventinus distilled! It's done at Schraml distillery, a 200 year old family distillery known for making fine spirits. All the spicey cloves, pepper, and banana of the brew, refined and concentrated. Just wonderful straight or on the rocks, you won't drink more than a small amount, the flavor is so big and satisfying. $75 at Astor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I just tasted Blackwood over the weekend. I love how balanced it is- not hot at all, even though the ABV is so high. Really great stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Riga Balzams Black Balsam. It's an herbal bitter. Overly hot. Rough like only low quality spirits can be. Smokey like adding water to a filled ashtray is smokey. It's bitterness would be fine if it didn't amplify all the other profoundly awful qualities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tasted straight, room temperature, lots of water as a chaser.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have grown to love -- or at least appreciate -- the stuff. My Latvian friend (and obscure liquor collector) advises ageing for a minimum of 1 year in the bottle at home. It is high proof, which will make it hot on the palate. I get pepper, burnt sugar, and cherry flavors, but no smoke. Odd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I would (and have) sipped it as a digestif, but I enjoy it best in cocktails. My favorite is a Midnight Ruby:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 oz Gin
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 oz Campari
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1/2 oz Black Balsams
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 oz Grapefruit juice

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Read more about this cocktail at www.kindredcocktails.com/cocktail/mid...

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I love your positivity. Perhaps it will grow on me. I suspect not, but I'll try that Midnight Ruby. Right about the smoke. I meant to imply it was acrid, like only truly burnt and carbonized things can be. In fact, I was enjoying that cherry note (perhaps more like currants) when my tongue was seized by that acrid, overly burnt flavor. I contend that the heat is not coming from the proof here. I've had plenty of higher proof spirits. This was different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Anyway, I'll let you know if I become a convert. Stranger things have happened.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. A bartender friend of mine picked up two bottles at an estate sale in Maine a few days ago. So last night we sipped some 1966 and 1905 Old Overholt rye Whiskey. Really great, with a touch of cedar and mustiness from sitting on cedar shelves all that time. In a Manhattan they were sublime.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                So, since -- traditionally -- it is said that spirits do not age in the bottle, I am presuming any differences between today's bottle(s) of Old Overholt and your bottles are principally due to changes in the mash bill, coupled with any decay ('mustiness") and absorption ("cedar") through an otherwise sealed bottle. I also presume the dates come from the old tax stamps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Is this correct?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JMF, that's amazing. I would love to hear your tasting notes. Also what does the 1904 bottle look like? Can you post a picture?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Zin, today's Old Overholt is totally different that those precious bottles that JFM has. The early Overholt was made in Pennsylvania by the Old Overholt distillery. That brand was sold to National Distillers who moved production to their Old Grand-Dad distillery in Kentucky. National was then purchased by Beam which closed the Grad-Dad Distillery and just started using the label for a four year old version of Jim Beam Rye. It's now a totally different whiskey from what was made at Grand-Dad not to mention that made in Pennsylvania. I've never had the PA version, but I've tasted the Grand-Dad version and it has very little in common with the current bottling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Most Pennsylvania rye was 100% rye, a blend of malted and unmalted. Kentucky ryes are generally the bare minimum rye (51%) with the rest being corn and a small amount of barley. Beam likely changed the mashbill, the stills and pretty much everything else about the whiskey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sku

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As you said, made in PA, totally different mash bill than the current Old Overholt. I don't take notes much anymore unless doing research for developing a new product. Even then I let my assistant take the notes, he actually has a more accurate palate than I do, being one of the top spirits experts in the country. I am the creative one, thinking up new things. So, nowadays I just sip and enjoy. The 1905 was from a whole keg that was purchased and had a label printed custom for the owner, and was in bottles the owner purchased. The 1966/1967 bottle was dated by the tax stamp on the neck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What did the 1905 look like? I saw a 1904 once that just said Old Overholt 1904, no picture or anything and I didn't know if it was legit or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sku

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        that was what this was like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I spoke with Ted Haigh and he said that it was probably the legit label, and it hadn't been rebottled. He is looking it up for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: sku

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      See? This is what I get for not reading labels . . . when I first got into the trade, "Old Overcoat" was made in Pennsylvania and I never realized it moved! Yes, I have no doubt it would be a totally different whiskey now . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Best purchase - Benedictine. I bought it after reading a NYT (thirsty traveler?) article about Friscos a while ago, but it has been delicious in many drinks (and coffee!) since then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Worst purchase - angostura bitters from the grocery store. They put me off of bitters entirely for a few years, until a friend finally convinced me that all bitters are not created equal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LabLady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've never heard anyone say a bad word about Angostura bitters. Wow! I'm a non-potable bitters fan. I've got maybe 2 dozen different bitters but I go to my bottle of Angostura most often. I've made Angostura ice cream to excellent effect too. What about them don't you like?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now that I think about it, it wasn't completely the fault of the Angostura bitters -- I think my friend, who was attempting to make an old fashioned, probably used ten times the appropriate amount of bitters, and the bitter/vegetal flavor was overpowering. This was almost 10 years ago, and my palate has also changed a lot. I think you've convinced me to give Angostura another try! What drink would be best?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LabLady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pretty much any drink! Like cacio e pepe, I have many different bitters but Angostura is absolutely my go-to and without a doubt my favorite. Either an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan would be classic choices if you enjoy whiskey. For something gin based, a Pegu Club is quite nice and the bitters really make the drink. Once you've graduated beyond those drinks, Google "Trinidad Sour" and you'll learn to appreciate a full ounce of the stuff in a drink.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I googled that drink and there was also a recipe for a "Stormy Mai-tai" with 1 1/2 oz of the stuff, have you had that one?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not yet. But the day is young... I'll take one for the team (not to mention, my liver) and report back this evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Just made a Stormy Mai Tai. Really good. Quite thick, frothy, blood red. Strong berry overtones followed by spice and--of course--some bitterness. (But not too much; it's tempered quite well.) A little bit too sweet for my taste. Next time I make it I'll cut one of the sweeteners (probably the orgeat) by 1/4 oz or so... and maybe add a bit more rum to compensate. I don't agree with the light rum recommendation. Use something strong and funky so that it has a chance to cut through the mix.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I followed a link from that page and ended up here


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have to admit that after going through half a bottle of Sea Wynde, and wanting like crazy to love it, I had to agree with you - I found that odd phenolic taste to be off-putting (though it does improve over ice). It seemed the taste got worse as the bottle was open for a while, I didn't notice it as much at first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Though it was difficult for me to bring myself to use even an ounce my precious ED 15 (which I cannot get locally) to make a mixed drink, I have to admit using these made far and away the best Mai Tai I have had yet. I am sure my "special occasion" Creole Shrubb (which I also can't get locally anymore) didn't hurt, I usually use harlequin or gran gala.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I emailed this guy to see if he had experimented at all with Pusser's in a Mai Tai (haven't heard back yet) - I really don't know which rum I would sub it for, it shares some flavor characteristics with both Sea Wynde and ED 15 - heck maybe I'll just make one with 2 oz of Pussers. In fact I'll do it now, nose to the grindstone and all. You can thank me later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If your in Charlotte the Creole Shrubb is back as is the Clement Agricole Rum. You can check the meckabc site for specific stores.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I bought the last four bottles when they last had it and they said at the time they were discontinuing it. I was gratified to see it still available about two months ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: quazi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks but I am nowhere near Charlotte, in Durham - though I might be coming down there next month for Scare-o-winds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you! I'll test the Old Fashioned first, since I already have everything other than the bitters. Plus, it seems right to go full circle and taste the drink that initially biased me against them. It's funny how easy it is to perceive not liking something, just from one or two bad experiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LabLady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Results: I did like it! The bitters alone smelled/tasted very similar to the Fee Bros. bitters that I liked recently (to my non-bitters educated palate, at least), and the old fashioned was nothing like the bad ones my friend made years ago. I ended up buying one of the Fee Bros. bitters while I was at the store also. Maybe I will move up to the stormy mai tai sometime soon. Where does one find orgeat syrup?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LabLady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You can order orgeat syrup online. My favorite brand is Routin 1883. Second favorite is Monin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like the one put out by Small Hand Food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'll give that a try. I wasn't especially pleased with some other syrups I bought from Small Hand last year. They were much sweeter, ounce-per-ounce, than most other brands--so I had to reformulate things to hit the right level of sweetness--and grew mold VERY quickly. (As compared to other brands that also list no preservatives. And the bottles were stored in the refrigerator so I expected them to last for a while.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My favorite almond note for a Mai Tai is actually Luxardo Amaretto. Not very sweet, superb almond flavor. Really amazing stuff!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sometimes I use A tablespoon or so of LA and half as much of orgeat. Really gets the almond note just right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: LabLady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like Blair Reynolds products. Orgeat and a whole line of tiki syrups.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't like the Trader Tiki orgeat in a cocktail. Inclusion of the almond skins gives it a brown color and a toasty flavor. I actually like the flavor quite a bit on its own, but in my opinion the syrup makes a Mai Tai that both looks and tastes a bit "dirty," for lack of a better term.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. re: LabLady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also consider trying your Old Fashioned with a combo of Angostura and Peychaud's bitters. I put slightly more Angostura than Peychaud's--about 5 to 3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: LabLady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm late to the party! I would probably recommend making a 1/2 size manhattan with bitters and another without. I think that's a great way to see how the angostura adds complexity to the drink and heightens some of the flavors present in the other ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And incidentally, Angostura makes an exceptional orange bitters that I love in my martinis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, I feel pretty silly that I had been avoiding them all this time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. So far, it would have to be Appleton Reserve. It really got me into rum. Prior to that, all I had was a Costco-size bottle of Meyer's in the liquor drawer. Also enjoying El Dorado 12 Year and Zacapa 23, but the Appleton seems to hold up better in mixed drinks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm liking Hendrick's, too, bought based on the recs here. Much preferred to Plymouth; guess I'm not a fan of too much juniper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: emily

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Have you had the Appleton extra 12 yr? It's outstanding and usually only a few dollars more than the reserve, I have never had the extra but do have a bottle of the special and even it has a nice strong taste that mixes well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I will be getting my hands on some El Dorado 12 soon, I love the 15 yr old and am looking forward to it. Made a killer mai tai the other day with ED 15 and Sea Wynde - credit goes to Matt Robold, Rumdood.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Zacapa is probably too smooth and sweet to be a good mixer, not nearly as much flavor there as the ED 15 IMO. I like it for what it is, almost a rum liqueur, but I just find ED 15 and Pusser's Blue label much more interesting. Zaya is somewhere in between, sweet and liqueur-ish but still chest-warming and potent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have tried the Appleton Extra, but actually preferred the Reserve in the drinks I'm making. I read somewhere that the ED 12 was supposed to be better than the 15, so that's why I went with it.... will eventually try the 15.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: emily

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I just got my ED 12 over the weekend, it's excellent and at $20 (Atlanta area) might be my new favorite bang-for-the-buck liquor of any sort - haven't yet tried it side-by-side with the 15 as I wanted to give it a few days to air. My impression after the first tasting is that they are very similar in flavor profile and the 12 just a little less rich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Worst would be a bottle of Scotch in a Canadian provincial liquor store. It was very cheap and it was "single grain" - NOT single malt. I took one taste and it was like kissing your sister. I threw it out. As far as I can tell, grains are only put into blended scotches to stretch the malts. I pretty much only drink single malts now. Best is much trickier - perhaps the first time I bought Glenmorangie port wood finish scotch and drank it 50/50 with water no ice - or maybe the first time I bought a bottle of Delamain cognac.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Best would prob be Blavod. Love it. Worse is deffo Bison Grass Vodka. *Heaves*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: psycho_fluff

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You might be the first person I've ever met who actually likes Blavod.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But it makes such pretty screwdrivers . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. You must have done a Midori Sour. Very nice & refreshing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I doubt I will ever be able to bring myself to spend anywhere near that on a bottle of rum, but Barbancourt 15 yr old is on my to-get list at $40 (I've been through a bottle of the 8 yr.) . Though Barbancourt is not an official AoC it is made in the same style and most independent reviewers agree is as good as most if not any AoC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I used to think the barbancourt 8 year was the best under $20 rum around, but I recently got a bottle of El Dorado 12 yr for that price and since I love the Demerara style it is my new best-bang-for-the-buck rum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        On a related note, I have never had Lemon hart 151 but since I have heard nothing but rave reviews for it - shoppers vineyard has it on sale for $23 and I grabbed a couple. Also a bottle of Zacapa XO on sale for $49. As well as a bottle of Don Julio 1942 tequila I hadn't planned to get but it was a great price ($81) with free shipping (nice bottle too).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This hobby (obsession?) is expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Expensive, perhaps, but bottles of distilled spirits (generally) last longer than bottles of wine . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes that is one reason why my friend and I have been reluctant to get heavily into wine, at least when I spend $30-50 on a bottle of good liquor I know I am going to get to enjoy it 15-20 times depending on the size of the pour. I used to balk at paying $10-15 for bottles of world class beer, but won't hesitate to spend two or three times that for a decent bottle of tequila, rum or Scotch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Unless you drink lots of cocktails with all or mostly all pricy ingredients. If the cocktail has 3 oz in it, then your ingredient price is about 1/8th of the price of the average 750 ml bottle. $32 average bottles -> $4/drink. $20 average bottles (good luck on the liqueurs) -> $2.50/drink.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Still way, way cheaper than getting into wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Heck, all of my sipping booze is >$30 and up a 750ml bottle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But for cocktails I tend to use these, and buy them by the 1.75L handle:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jim Beam $23 (Manhattans, Mint Juleps Whisky Sours

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Goslings Rum $26 (Dark and Stormy, Mai Tais, Rum Sours, Daiquiri if I want a gutsy one)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Don Q $24 (Mojitos and as one of the rums in a Mai Tai)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Gordon's Gin $18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Seagram's Gin $18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mount Gay $27 (Maitais, Daiquiris, etc.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1800 Tequila $29 (Margaritas or just with a squeeze of lime)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sobieski Vodka $19.99

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Myers Silver Rum $19.00

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cruzan Silver or Gold $20

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You can make a mess of cocktails with a 1.75L bottle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For a Sazerac, if I'm not using some really fancy Rye I still use Old Overholt sometimes and it's $11-$14 a bottle here in MA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gosh, El Dorado 12 yr is $28 here in Boston. I just tried the 15 and was blown away. So good. $34 a bottle for that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That is actually the price around Atlanta, the 15 yr is $30 (neither is available here in NC) but I have seen others say the same. I had a friend bring back a bottle and next trip I am going to tell him to bring me more. Hi-time wine in CA has it for $26 and their prices are usually hard to beat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I recently picked up a small batch single barrel of Four Roses that was bottled exclusively for a store here in Nashville. It’s quite mellow with a slightly fruity aroma.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We also purchased another somewhat local tequila called Cuestion. It’s aged in Jack Daniel oak barrels. Their anejo might be some of the finest tequila I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: StriperGuy


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I finally did my blind show down between the 12 and 15 yr old - and I am very surprised to say I like the 12 yr old better. It is a little hotter and more of the Demarara rum flavor, sort of brown sugar / licorice / molasses that is typical of the ones I have had. I found it slightly more chest warming in the finish while the wood in the 15 had smoothed it out a little.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It was very close and both are outstanding, if I were to rate them on a scale of 100 they would only be 2-3 points apart. maybe 95 vs 92. .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A lot of people find either the 12 or the 21, better than the 15 El Dorado. I did a blind test of the whole line a few years ago and folks were split 50/50 between the 12 and 21. Most folks felt the 15 was over/under aged. (The 21 is pretty fantastic, but actually over aged for some people.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I guess I am surprised because I have had the 15 yr old for a year now, and I was so blown away by it from the first time I tried it, I definitely didn't expect to like the 12 yr old better. Also so many people list the 15 yr old as their favorite rum, I have seen almost no one list the 12.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Confused. What surprises you? You both seem to say that the 15 < 12.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While I have not done a blind tasting, this past week I have been sampling both the 12 and 15 and the 12 wins out by far. I think the 15 is overly smooth, while the 12 just keeps delivering additional layers of flavor over the course of the evening. And its cheaper to boot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Best: A bottle of Longmorn single-malt we bought in Scotland -- so sweet it was like drinking dessert.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Worst: Peppermint Schnapp's

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  @Dave in the basement: one of the best summertime drinks I ever had was a Midori marguerita at a Mexican restaurant in Laguna Beach.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I think one of the worst was Cordial Campari. A clear liqueur that my wife bought out of curiosity. She found it on a dusty shelf while visiting her family in Indiana (could have driven over the line to Michigan). Turns out to be a raspberry liqueur they produced for a while and not bitter in the least.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Best? Perhaps my first bottle of vermouth since it set my down the right path. Our our first bitter liqueur which was probably Benedictine.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. So I found the name of my worst earlier in this post, the Latvian black balsam thing. We used it to refinish furniture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have never bought maotai (sorghum) only been served it at Chinese diplomatic dinners. I get that it cuts the grease, but a nice scotch would do the same thing at less peril.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Does anybody else remember the Bols egg liqueur? It is/was viscous slimy sulphur yellow. I call that as the worst.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: painperdu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's funny that what some people love, others hate. The Latvian balsam bitter style liqueur was something I grew up with and I came to like. Just as I like fernet, campari, etc. and other bitter style liqueurs. I have had some wonderful Maotai and other Chinese liquors. And advokat can be really good, especially the thick versions which aren't exported, but are used as a boozy topping for waffles, ice cream, and other desserts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          True true. I love most bitters, both potable and non-potable. I haven't developed a taste for fernet. I get a strong acrid note that is turned up to 11 on the Latvian balsam liqueur.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Perhaps one day I'll acquire a taste for it, but I can't ever see a time when it won't be "challenging."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Latest best Sazerac 18 year old rye, worst marshmallow vodka a friend gave me.