Butch writes about his favorite bottom shelf liquors, and I thought I would chime in, too. Keeping in mind that I haven’t explored the least expensive choices in general (not that I think I’m better than you or anything [heheheh]), I’ll just go for the ones that I have experience with.
Bourbon: I’ve already talked at length about Evan Williams. So there it is.
Rye: Guess I’ve never tried a cheap one (my favorite, Bulleit, shows up later on the mid level list)
Gin: For all that people pooh-pooh it, I think that New Amsterdam is just fine (especially for the price–1.5 liter for $18.99 around here!). If you want to talk more traditional, it would have to be Gordon’s. My personal philosophy is that (even though I have more expensive fancy types than any other spirit) gin was first made prominent by being mixed up in the bathtub, so anything you can get these days will be at least top-notch quality compared to history.
Scotch: Um, so far no.
Irish Whiskey: Are there bottom shelf choices? All I know about is Jameson and Bushnells, neither of which are that cheap.
Canadian Whiskey: Another “Nope.”
Brandy: I’d agree with E&J, sure, though truthfully it’s the only cheap choice I’ve tried.
Apple Brandy: Love me some Laird.
Wine: Bottles? What is this nonsense? If it doesn’t come in a cardboard box you need to get down off your high horse and take off your fancy pants.
Beer: I’m a home brewer, ok? I’m ok with being a hypocrite after talking wine, to say that I can stand to use the occasional MGD in chili or beer-butt chicken, but spare me from cheap American beer otherwise. Now, if we’re talkin’ Belikin, it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame. Otherwise, I live in a town with [counts on fingers] 5 (I think) microbreweries, and a state with, like, 60–so drinking cheap beer is just a sad reason to not try something new and interesting. Also, the punctuation used in the previous sentence is totally kosher with English Majors mmmhmmm.
Hard Cider: I get mine for free from my friend who makes it from local apples in exchange for homebrews. Can’t beat that.
Cocktail Mixers: PLEASE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (I’m even moving away from storebought tonic for crying out loud, so don’t even start on that green artificial stuff for… ugh… “margaritas.”)
Vermouth: Agree with the Martini & Rossi.
Beer for beer-butt chicken: I know I talked about this already, but you should try it with a Coke. Just sayin’.
Butch’s list has several things that I now want to try, and I hope I fulfilled the spirit of his post even though I admit that I head to the middle shelves much more often than my wallet thinks I should. What about you? Got any recommendations for the cheap stuff? We’ll go to the next notch up on a later post, howabout.