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Apr 10, 2012 08:37 AM

Buying six bottles at once- what would you get?

At my local grocery store, I can get 30% off if I buy six 750ml bottles at once. They told me they can try to order anything, so I'm going to give it a try and see what their suppliers can get them.

I'm into classic cocktails and balanced drinks, not really the creamy dessert ones. I'm looking for ingredients that are versatile and can be used in a number of different drinks. Not currently interested in bottles that are best for sipping rather than mixing, although those that do both well are certainly a plus.

What do you think is missing from my current supply? Which six would you buy? Under $25 a 750ml bottle, please- there are ingredients like Chartreuse that I'm interested in but will buy in a 375 ml somewhere else.

Currently, I have:
Rye whiskey: Wild Turkey 101
Bourbon: Maker's
Scotch- single malt: Glenlivet 12
Brandy: Fundador Solera Reserva (hate this stuff)
Gin: Beefeater
White rum: Flor de Cana 4 year
Tequila: El Jimador reposado
Vodka: Luksusowa
Luxardo Maraschino
Homemade Coffee liqueur
Homemade gingered brandy
(Homemade grenadine)
Aguardiente Cristal- sort of useless so far
Regan's, Angostura, and Peychaud's bitters
MR Sweet and NP Dry vermouth

I'm considering:
1. Campari, which I've never had but am dying to try
2. St Germain since it's a crowd pleaser and fairly versatile- I've even seen it subbed for Creme de Violette in an aviation for a slightly different effect.
3. Landy VS (heard this is discontinued) or Paul Masson VSOP to replace the Spanish brandy
4. A dark rum, perhaps Old Monk or Zaya (both hard to find around here), or Gosling's?
5. ?
6. ?

Recommendations please, and thank you!

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  1. You should definitely get Campari, it's worth having around just to make Negronis and Americanos. St. Germain is a nice choice too, though if you're looking for a specialty liqueur that's not quite so sweet Domaine de Canton would be nice too. So, that's #1 and #2.

    Don't know a thing about cognac or dark rum, so I'll leave #3 and #4 alone :)

    For #5, I would definitely get a gin - at $25 a bottle you're a little limited but Bombay Sapphire or Hayman's Old Tom would be a nice contrast to the Beefeater. At a higher price point, consider Hendrick's, Ransom Small's, or Old Raj.

    And for #6, I'd consider another non-fruit liqueur - if not Chartreuse, then either absinthe, an anise liqueur like Pernod, or an herbal liqueur like Benedictine or Becherovka. Or Fernet Branca if you're feeling masochistic. :)

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathleen440

      I had a mini of Canton and thought it was pretty tasty but somehow wasn't a big fan of it mixed (tried it with bourbon and lemon and with vodka and lemon). It's something to consider for the future if my gingered brandy continues to be disappointingly mild.

      How would you compare the flavor profile and juniper level of Hayman's to that of a London Dry like Beefeater? (I'm partial to Hayman's because that's my last name.) The only thing I know about Old Tom is that it's sweeter- how and in what do you use it? Also thinking of trying Seagrams as a cheaper option similar to Plymouth.

      1. re: tinnywatty

        I have to admit I've never tried the Hayman's Old Tom - I have Ransom at home. But the Ransom is $35+ a bottle. Old Tom as a general style is indeed sweeter and less juniper-y than London Dry. It was the most popular type of gin before Prohibition, so it works really well in classic cocktails - especially the sweet ones (Martinez, Tom Collins, etc.) If you're willing to spring a little more money, though, the Ransom Old Tom is great - it's barrel aged, so it has a really complex flavor.

        Seagram's is my rail gin of choice. I like it better than both Gordon's and New Amsterdam. I've never tried Plymouth, simply because I haven't gotten around to it - at that price point I'd rather buy Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray.

        1. re: kathleen440

          So far I've settled on Campari and St. Germain (my boyfriend LOVES it) for sure, along with likely Seagram's. It's just hard to decide what to get for the best versatility right now with a limited budget- my impression is that an Old Tom wouldn't be nearly as versatile as a London Dry, but I was looking for a lower-juniper gin to go in Pegu Clubs and Aviations (hence trying Seagram's after thinking Beefeater was too strong), so I don't know. The Martinez is a huge favorite among my friends, but I make them sweet using Robert Hess's 2 oz sweet vermouth to 1 oz gin recipe, so I'm sure I'd have to adjust the sweetness downward if using an Old Tom.

    2. Like bitter: Consider Campari, Aperol, Cynar, Ramazzotti, Averna, or CioCiaro. Try Fernet in a bar before buying a bottle. Good sloe gin is somewhat bitter and quite good (Plymouth or Bitter Truth (which I haven't had)) Also consider Punt e Mes as a bitter style of sweet vermouth.

      Like herbal? Consider Green Chartreuse, Benedictine

      Like licorice/anise? Consider an absinthe, or maybe a pastis

      Like smoke? Consider a mezcal or Islay single malt

      Like fruit? Consider Apricot (Apry or Apricot Orchard), Pear (Pear Orchard), Cherry (Cherry Heering), Cassis

      Like earthy/grassy/vegetal? Consider a cachaca, an agricole, or even Batavia Arrack.

      Like molasses rum? Its a vast area, with different styles, aged, white, overproof etc. Smith & Cross is wonderful. JWray overproof is excellent. Sweet lovers will like El Dorado.

      Replace the brandy with a cognac you like.

      Is your grocery store's regular prices inflated? Because 30% off on only 6 bottles is an astonishing deal if the prices are market-rate to begin with.

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      1 Reply
      1. re: EvergreenDan

        It's definitely a great deal, although it's hard to say what "market-rate" prices are. I usually judge prices against those at BevMo, a big box store that has pretty high prices. The grocery store's prices, prior to the 30% off, are a dollar or two cheaper than BevMo's non Club card prices, so everything I've priced is cheaper there. Last time, with the 30% off, I paid 26.60 for a 750ml of Cointreau, 19.59 for Maker's Mark, 9.80 for Beefeater, etc. The catch of course is that they only stock the popular brands, especially in the rum category (they sell Bacardi and 10 Cane and that's it), don't sell some of the more niche liqueurs and spirit categories (rye) and I have yet to see what kind of variety they can get in special orders. They do regularly stock some surprising things like Campari and a number of gins, however, and of course it's a good place for keeping the basic basics in stock.

      2. one and two get a ton of us at my home bar so those are great picks

        1) yes

        2) yes

        3) yeah i have to pick up some brandy going to go with the Paul Masson

        4) Dark Rum: Smith and Cross / Coruba / Appleton Extra - really you could make that 4 5 and 6 and be in tiki dark rum heaven :)

        I would throw a good Pisco in there if avaliable

        Cherry Herring and Benedictine are on my list of things to grab that i havent yet so those would be good and canton ginger liquor

        punt y mas sweet vermouth or capano antica (unlikly a grocery store has either) but if they do i would grab both also since your getting campari

        Also getting Aperol with Campari to compare and contrast the differences with a couple different sweet vermouths is pretty fun (and delicious)

        9 Replies
        1. re: Dapuma

          Okay, so since rum has been mentioned a number of times- It seems like there is a crazy amount of variety in the rum category and I have no idea where to start. I prefer to just do my research (or have others recommend :) ) and buy a full bottle and decide to like it, rather than spending $4 on nips to "try".

          So let's say I wanted to be able to make a few drinks: mai tai, a dark and stormy variation not necessarily using Gosling's, maybe Robert Hess's "Canton" which uses Jamaican rum, maraschino, curacao and grenadine, a Captain's Blood or a rum sidecar- nothing with 30 ingredients like some tiki drinks- what kind of rums do I need to start out? Any online resources to recommend?

          So far I don't love the Flor de Cana 4 (reminds me a bit of rubbing alcohol although I'm getting used to it) but I'm determined to learn to like rum as a category.
          This question directed at everyone, not just Dapuma.

          1. re: tinnywatty

            Three sites that I think are great for rum reviews: and

            I don't always agree on their rating but they have exposed me to different rums. Once you see how your tastes are relative to theirs then you can use their reviews as an effective guide.

            For a rum sidecar, try it with Kraken. I am not generally a fan of spiced rums but a Kraken sidecar is wonderful

            1. re: quazi

              I much prefer this site for rum reviews,


              and I find entertaining his "reviews of reviewers" - especially eye opening is his review of Arctic Wolf and the rum howler site.


              I haven't really spent much time on the crushed ice site because the way the site is laid out seems very confusing and random.

              1. re: quazi

                Thanks for the links, I'll check them out after work. Do you use the Kraken in anything else?

              2. re: tinnywatty

                In terms of cheaper white rums, maybe you could try Cuzan Aged White (same price as FDC 4) if you don't like the Flor de Cana. My roommate has a bottle of the Cruzan and I have a bottle of the FDC 4 and I've compared them both, alone and in a Daiquiri. The Cruzan is sweeter and smoother, IMO, while the FDC is drier. I think they both work fine in a regular and Hemingway Daiquiri.

                One thing to point out is that in general, white rums aren't meant to be appreciated neat. Like gin, they're best appreciated in cocktails. It may be that alone, you won't find a white rum to be pleasant and the aroma may be a bit overpowering, but when it's mixed into a drink, you may feel it's quite tasty.

                1. re: The Big Crunch

                  For some reason, I took to pretty much everything better than white rum- my first taste made me gag. I don't think it's the brand- there's just something about rum that I don't take to. I've had Mt Gay Eclipse and it has that same quality, just slightly milder. I'm getting used to it, though- I'm determined not to have a taste handicap in such a simple area. I had no such problems with dark rum neat as well as mixed although unfortunately I didn't get the brand when I had it.

                  So does anyone have any other quick and dirty rum recommendations for the kinds of drinks I mentioned above?

                2. re: tinnywatty

                  Ok for the Mai Tai you will want:

                  Orgeat - I recommend Small Hand Foods - no chemicals all natural and tastes great, Cask Spirits sells her entire line of mixers and they are all top notch makes a huge difference in your drinks (the gum syrups and grenadine as well) if you like or ever wanted to like pina colada's her recipe on her website is nothing short of amazing IMO and that will be a great place to put your Flor de Cana 4 year - the pineapple gum syrup gets a lot of use for me along with the Orgeat

                  VSOP Clement Rum - your grocery store probably doesn't have this but you can order it online pretty easily - its not cheap though fyi

                  Senior Curacao of Curacao - Triple Sec does not go in a Mai Tai so you need this - it goes in quite a few other cocktail of the tiki nature

                  Appleton v/x - this is a gold not dark rum - grocery store probably has this

                  Cruzan makes a blackstrap rum - however there isnt much use for that style of rum in many drinks so i would pass on that - I have 10+ different rums and none are blackstrap - however I dont make Dark and Stormy's much

                  So if you wanted to do the Mai Tai and the Canton you should be pretty good with either:
                  Appleton Extra / Coruba and Appleton V/X

                  I would add Lemon Hart 151 later on and then you can "water it down" to make it 80 proof as well just make sure to follow the directions - and that is very budget effective and gives you 80 proof and 151 proof demerara which is the "secret" of a lot of tiki drinks


                  that would give you a pretty good base to start from

                  so i would recomend
                  1) appleton extra
                  2) appleton v/x
                  3) campari
                  4) pernod / brandy
                  5) St Germain
                  6) Hendricks - since you want a less juniper forward drink for collin's drinks etc

                  those are all things most grocery stores would have

                  1. re: Dapuma

                    Great, thanks. Those two rums are priced pretty well. Oddly enough, the grocery store only carries Bacardi and 10 Cane regularly, but the guy I talked to was confident about their being able to order a number of things.

                    Looks like I have a lot to learn about rum!

                    1. re: tinnywatty

                      Capn Jimbo's site I liked to above has a lot of good basic info about rum and the different styles / flavor profiles, be sure to check it out.

              3. Campari is great, I would heartily recommend it, but keep in mind it is very bitter and may be an acquired taste.

                St Germain, if you can get this for $25 I would definitely pick it up, fun to play around with and usually much more expensive at least around here.

                I haven't tried any cheap brandies except some E&J that was left over from making sangria, which was not good in cocktails at all. If it were me, I would pony up the $35 and get a cognac like Pierre Ferrand Ambre.

                I love rum. Coruba is my favorite inexpensive dark rum, although their US distribution is not the best. Appleton V/X is also Jamaican but lighter, great all-around rum. Barbancourt 8 yr is another great value. Zaya can be sipped and also used in some cocktails, so if you can get it for $25, I would say it's worth a try.

                Applejack or Calvados might be worth a try as well. I just had some Laird's Bonded for the first time this past weekend and really enjoyed it.

                Apricot liqueur shows up in a number of classic cocktails. Marie Brizard or R&W Orchard Apricot.

                Absinthe (substitute) is also very handy for some true classics like the Sazerac. For $25 you will be limited to something like Herbsaint or Pernod, but I think these will work.

                2 Replies
                1. re: nickls

                  barbancourt 8 year is a staple for me as well just wanted to add that on - great stuff

                  Dont get the Bols apricot brandy if your thinking MB and RW arent at the grocer - i did and wasnt impressed

                  Pernod goes in alot of tiki drinks is small dropper sized amounts...although if you cook it goes in alot of fish stews etc so not that bad of an investment in those respects

                  and just one more note the v/x would be considered a gold rum not a dark rum the extra would be appletons dark rum I believe

                  if somehow you had the ultimate grocery store and they had LH 151 i would pick that up as well

                  1. re: nickls

                    Good catch, St. Germain is at least $35 a bottle where I live.

                  2. I would definitely beef up on the quality of rums - try the El Dorado 12, good sipper and great mixer, or the Plantation Rum

                    Add a cachaca El Barriero if you can - Leblon is a good back up.

                    I think the Aperol is much more accessible than the Campari and I am a bitter fan. I can see someone more readily sipping the Aperol, Plymouth Gin.

                    Does your store sell mini's? I have gotten good deals on mini's of absinthe, would skip the paul masson and get the martel or anything but the masson.

                    If you want an overproof rum get the J wray or the smith and cross