Alcohol in my pantry - your suggestions, please

Currently in my pantry: both white and red wine, sherry, marsala, and brandy. Only other alcohol I have in the house is rum; occasionally I have beer.

I’m bored with my current repertoire and would like to branch out some.

What would you suggest? What price ranges and brands should I consider? Any recipe suggestions (including ideas for what I already on hand)?



If you’d like to try Kentucky Straight Bourbon, I have two suggestions. The cheaper one is Old Crow, a very distinguished whiskey at a low price. On the upper end, Knob Creek. I’ve tried Buffalo Trace and Whiskey River, but for the extra money, you get a harsher drink with no more soul than Knob Creek. If you don’t want it straight up, mix with 7-Up or a good ginger ale such as Vernor’s.

I enjoy the flavored vodkas. One in particular I like is Finlandia Lime. I usually mix it with cranberry juice.

IMHO, every good pantry should have:

1 bottle decent tequila (Cuervo or Sauza)
1 bottle vodka (good-Absolut or Smirnoff; better-Tanqueray Sterling or Grey Goose)
1 bottle Jack Daniels
1 bottle Scotch (I like Dewar’s)

You don’t mention if this is for your consumption of entertaining; since I don’t know what you like, I’ll assume entertaining. For a real kick-ass party, I recommend Jell-o shots. Just make Jell-o as you normally would, but substitute alcohol for half the water. Lime goes great with tequila, cranberry or lemon with vodka (or whatever combination you like). Tiny paper cups for the containers–like the kind you squeeze ketchup into at snack bars–available at restaurant supply stores or Smart & Final. If you or someone you know works in a hospital, those little medicine cups work too.

Maybe some margarita and/or strawberry daiquiri mix? I know they make margarita mix with the alcohol already in it, and they might make daiquiri mix like that too. If not, you just need some half way decent rum. If you’re just making mixed drinks you don’t need top shelf booze, unless you’re talking rum/whiskey and coke. But it’s harder to tell any difference when making fruity mixed drinks.

These are really cool too - perfect shots every time. Just push a shot glas up against the opening of the bottle. And they look cool too.

Are you looking to broaden your horizons in mixed drinks? If so, want2know’s starter list is well, a good start. Some people would add gin to the list, but others think gin is just turpentine that escaped from the garage.

How about cordials and other after-dinner type stuff? Amaretto, Midori, Courvousier, Chambord? Brandy?

If you were in California, I’d aim you at the nearest BevMo, but sadly, they’re not in Ohio. They have racks and racks of mini bottles so you can sample your way through a category for a couple bucks a shot, rather than buying whole bottles and not liking it. I’d like to think Columbus has at least one liquor shop like this.

Seagram’s V.O. rye whisky
Glenfidditch single malt scotch whisky
J and B blended scotch whisky
Creme de Cacao
Creme de Menthe
Metaxa (a Greek? brandy)
Jack Daniels
Makers Mark
Cuervo Gold
Remy Martin VSOP (not exactly sure of the entire name)
Bristol Cream sherry

Plus, the needed “mixers” such as ginger ale, seltzer, Coke, etc.

Southern Comfort. Mixed with cream soda, this stuff is divine.
Chaucer’s brand mead.

Columbus has a strange hybrid of private state stores. They do have some mini bottles available, but with state minimum pricing, they’re not as good of a deal as they are in other places.

One thing that I’ve done in the past is ordering my first drink at my local bar with something that isn’t my usual. I think I’ve tried almost every liquor and beer available that way.

Here is the liquor list from Bob’s Bar in Columbus, one of my favorite bars when I lived in Ohio. This list might give some suggestions.

I’d probably add gin to the list. Hate gin myself, but friends drink it.

Basically a bar needs a whiskey (scotch, burbon, irish whiskey, canadian whiskey), a vodka, a rum, gin, brandy (if you are from Wisconsin or Minnesota), and probably tequila as basics. Then you can add variations of whiskey, rum (dark and light), flavors (favored vodkas, more obscure liquors and liqueurs.

I would certainly agree with other posters that you should try some Scotch. Perhaps one of the reasonable-quality blended brands (J&B, Famous Grouse) before spending money on single malts.

If you like the sherry, I would also suggest you try port - a medium-priced Ruby or Late-Bottled Vintage would be a good start.