House Brands

Mix together Sazerac 18-year old rye whiskey, Carpano Antica, and Fee’s Barrel-aged Bitters and you have one of the best Manhattan’s ever conceived. But if any of you are like me, such elixirs are saved for special occasions. Now whip up one with Old Overholt, Martini and Rossi, and Fee’s regular aromatic bitters. Is it as good? No way. Is it still delicious while not requiring me to dish out half of my monthly paycheck? Indeed.

This post is nearly entirely ripped from an eGullet thread, but I found it beyond fascinating and thought I could get a lot of good tips from everyone.

Ever since I started my cocktail journey, I’ve tried to find the best buys for nearly all the spirits when it comes to mixing. Here are my favorites. With some exceptions, these are all easily obtainable in Pennsylvania, where it can be hard to find brands that are not consumed by the masses. You know, unless you’re willing to place a special order with a 12 bottle minimum.

I kept the list short and just covered the basics so that you don’t have to spend two hours inventorying your liquor collection. Not that that wouldn’t be fun.

KP’s House Brands

  • Gin: Plymouth and Tanqueray – $25.99 and $23.99
  • Dry Vermouth: Noilly Prat – $9.49
  • Sweet Vermouth: Martini and Rossi
  • Gold Puerto Rican Rum: Bacardi 8 – $22.99
  • Light Puerto Rican Rum: Brugal or Cruzan – $12.19 or $12.49
  • Dark Jamaican Rum: Gosling’s – $14.99
  • Demerara Rum: Lemon Hart 80 and 151-proof – $20.99 and $26.99 (sadly, each of these requires a 12 bottle minimum purchase! Not that I won’t use them up …)
  • Tequila: Sauza Hornitos – $26.99
  • Rye: Old Overholt (sadly this is no longer easily available in PA. I’m stuck with Wild Turkey. – $26.09
  • Bourbon: Buffalo Trace – $19.99
  • Blended Scotch: Famous Grouse – $23.49
  • Cognac: Chalfonte or Salignac – $22.49 or $17.99
  • Orange Curacao / Triple Sec: Marie Brizard Orange Curacao, Harlequin, Cointreau – $27.99, not available in PA, $30.99
  • Pastis: Herbsaint – $26.69

KP Question

  1. What are everyone’s house brands?

17 Responses to “House Brands”

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17 Comments to “ House Brands”
  1. AnavolenaNo Gravatar says:

    Just the other night I made a Manhattan with Eagle Rare 10 yr., Vya, and Angostura, and we decided that the Vya and Eagle Rare just don’t mix. The Vya is too assertive, or the Eagle Rare is too smooth, or both. I think Cinzano (which is my house sweet vermouth, although I’ve splurged on the Vya the last two times) would be more balanced with the Eagle Rare.

    But Woodford Reserve and Vya are a damn good match.

    I think my new house gin is going to be Plymouth. Still experimenting with rums to make a decision for light and gold, although Gosling’s is a shoe-in for dark.

  2. AdamNo Gravatar says:

    It will not surprise anyone that my list very nearly mirrors Rick’s.

    – Light Rum: Cruzan Estate Light or Flor de Cana
    – Amber Rum: I don’t think I’ve settled on a house brand here yet. Flor de Cana and Cruzan Single Barrel are the frontrunners, though. Bacardi 8 is in the mix as it’s often on sale here.
    – Dark Rum: I actually keep Cruzan Blackstrap on hand at all times as well — I find it works better in certain drinks where you really want that molasses flavor
    – Bourbon: Knob Creek
    – Vodka: Hangar One

    Some of these brands are little pricier, but in the case of bourbon and vodka, I use them so rarely in mixing that it’s not worth it to me to buy a separate bottle of lower quality.

  3. ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    I just finished one of those fun inventories of the liquor collection, so it’s all fresh on my mind!

    Here are our usual house brands:

    Rye: Rittenhouse Bonded or Sazerac 6
    Bourbon: Maker’s Mark
    Scotch, blended: Famous Grouse
    Gin: Plymouth, plus either Beefeater, Tanqueray or Bombay (we alternate 1.75l bottles of these)
    Cognac: Hennessy VS
    Rum, light and amber: Cruzan Estate
    Rum, dark: Myers’ or Gosling’s
    Tequila, blanco: Milagro (we’re lovin’ Partida now, but it’s $15 or so more)
    Tequila, reposado: Cazadores
    Tequila, añejo: El Charro
    Pastis: Herbsaint
    Triple sec: Cointreau
    Orange Curacao: Marie Brizard or Senior
    Dry vermouth: Noilly Prat
    Sweet vermouth: Cinzano

  4. Gin: Tanqueray
    Vermouth: Martini & Rossi
    Vodka: Stoli
    Whiskey: Crown Royal
    Light Rum: Matusalem Platino
    Gold Rum: Appleton Special
    Dark Rum: Goslings
    Demerara Rum: Lemon Hart
    Overproof Rum: Wray & Nephew Overproof (:-P)
    Tequila: Sauza Hornitos
    Triple Sec/Curacao: Cointreau

  5. ScottNo Gravatar says:

    • Gin: Tanqueray
    • Sweet Vermouth: Martini and Rossi
    • Gold Puerto Rican Rum: Barcadi Select
    • Light Cuban Rum: Havana Club Blanco
    • Dark Cuban Rum: Havana Club 7 Años
    • Dark Jamaican Rum: Trader Vic’s, Myers
    • Demerara Rum: Lemon Hart 80 and 151
    • Tequila: Sauza Hornitos, Cazadores Reposado
    • Rye: Jim Beam
    • Bourbon: Maker’s Mark
    • Orange Curacao / Triple Sec: Controy
    • Vodka: Skyy, Absolut

  6. Completely restocking when we move, so for now the cabinet’s quite decimated…

    Dark rum: Goslings
    Vodka: Absolut
    Sour-Mash Whiskey: Jack Daniels

  7. JefffraneNo Gravatar says:

    Both the Rittenhouse BIB and Jim Beam Rye actually make great Manhattans, although quite different from one another. The Beam is much lighter in profile but more snappy and pepper-y. The Rittenhouse works beautifully with the Vya.

    Buffalo Trace and Bulleit are reasonably-priced and excellent.

  8. Darcy O'NeilNo Gravatar says:

    Gin: Plymouth
    Dry Vermouth: Martini Rossi
    Sweet Vermouth: Martini and Rossi
    Gold Rum: Appleton Extra
    Light Rum: Havana Club
    Dark Rum: Gosling’s
    Demerara Rum: El Dorado
    Tequila: Don Eduardo
    Rye: Alberta Springs
    Bourbon: Makers Mark
    Blended Scotch: Famous Grouse
    Brandy: Dujardin VSOP (Germany)
    Orange Curacao / Triple Sec: Marie Brizard
    Pastis: Henri Bardouin

  9. Gin: Aviation
    Dry Vermouth: D’aquino
    Sweet Vermouth: D’aquino/Punt E Mes
    Gold Puerto Rican Rum: sub Cruzan Dark
    Light Puerto Rican Rum: Don Q/Cruzan Light
    Dark Jamaican Rum: Coruba
    Demerara Rum: Lemon Hart
    Tequila: Herradura Reposado
    Rye: Wild Turkey 101
    Bourbon: Bulleit
    Cognac: Claude Chatalion XO
    Brandy: Christian Brothers VS
    Orange Curacao / Triple Sec: BOLS Curacao, Cointreau
    Pastis: Herbsaint

  10. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    Funny you should ask cuz I’m a little too familiar with these and have started rotating different brands in most categories. But:

    Gin: Beefeater
    Dry Vermouth: Vya
    Sweet Vermouth: Vya
    Light PR Rum: Metusalem (from the Dominican Republic, but even so)
    Gold PR Rum: Bacardi Añejo (but this for recipes that call for gold PR rum by name–don’t care for it much compared to other golds)
    Dark Jamaican Rum: Myers’s
    Demerara Rum: Lemon Hart
    Rye: Rittenhouse
    Bourbon: Knob Creek
    Scotch: Johnnie Walker Red Label
    Brandy: Courvoisier Napoleon
    Aromatic Bitters: Angostura or Fee Bros regular one
    Curacao: Bols Orange Curacao
    Pastis: Pernod (though it seems a bit sill now with my new bottle of St George)

  11. GabrielNo Gravatar says:

    Great question, Rick:

    Vodka: Svedka/Chopin
    Gin: Tanqueray/Hendrick’s (and about 15 others I keep in stock, but those are the main mixers)
    Light Rum: Cruzan
    Amber Rum: Bacardi 8
    Dark Rum: Coruba or Angostura 5 year (almost like blackstrap)
    Tequila: 1800 Silver
    Rye: Sazerac
    Bourbon: Maker’s Mark
    Scotch: Oban 15 year
    Brandy: Napoleon and Reynal
    Triple Sec: Cointreau
    Curacao: Gran Gala
    Pastis: Pernod
    Sweet Vermouth: Cinzano
    Dry Vermouth: Martini & Rossi

    For a manhattan: Sazerac Rye, Carpano Antica, and Angostura bitters (would like to try the Fee but unavailable)

    Nice topic!

  12. Naming my house brands will likely look like a carbon copy of Trader Tiki, above. So, I’ll list my Well spirits instead. I feel that part of being a connoisseur is when to know what will do in a pinch, and what is good enough. With that, here are my (candid, sometimes embarrassing) wells:

    Gin: Gordon’s
    Bourbon: Evan Williams Green Label/Old Crow
    Whiskey: Seagram’s 7
    Gold Rum: Cruzan 2yr Dark
    Dark Rum: Coruba
    White Rum: Cruzan White
    Rye: Jim Beam
    Orange Liqueur: Harlequin

    Ok, so my rum isn’t quite ‘bottom shelf,’ but what can I say? It *is* a rum house.

  13. I’ll just include the ones I most often use, and/or have more than one level of pour:

    Gin: Bombay Sapphire (Hendrick’s)
    Scotch: Cutty Sark (Johnny Walker Black-Blend, Dalwhinnie-Single)
    Vodka: Tanqueray Sterling (Ultimat or more often Belvedere. Also Chopin)
    Rum: Bacardi Light and Gold
    Cognac: Courvosier VS
    Bourbon: Makers Mark
    Vermouth: Martini and Rossi Sweet and Dry
    Orange Liqueur: Cointreau (There can be no substitute!)

  14. GunthNo Gravatar says:

    The “Orange Curacao / Triple Sec” title is a little vauge in that cocktails that call for one of them will probably not work for the other one. Anyone with pointers for what works best for each in regards to Harlequin, Cointreau, Grand Marinerand the others?

  15. TylerNo Gravatar says:

    Not all are my personal favourites, but are at a good price point and good quality for first pours!

    Gin: Tanqueray
    Bourbon: Makers Mark
    Vodka: Vodka O
    Scotch: Ballentines
    White Rum: Havana Club Anejo Blanco
    Dark Rum: Mount Gay Eclipse
    Tequila: Jose Cuervo

  16. ScomorokhNo Gravatar says:

    In my home bar:

    Gin: every so often – Gordons (about 25 USD per 1 l), my favorite – Bombay Sapphire (40 USD)
    Dry Vermouth: Martini Extra Dry (14 USD)
    Sweet Vermouth: Cinzano Rosso (12 USD)
    Gold (Aged) Rum: Bacardi ORO (27 USD), my favorite Havana Club 7 y.o. (29 USD), Bacardi 8 (50 USD), Matusalem 15 y.o. (70 USD)
    Light Rum: Bacardi Carta Blanca (27 USD), Havana Club Anejo Blanco (22 USD)
    Dark Jamaican Rum: Captain Morgan Dark (20 USD) (It is shame. I know.)
    Demerara Rum: El Dorado 12, 15 or 21 y.o. (25, 50, 65 USD)
    Tequila: every so often – Jose Cuervo Blanco (40 USD), my favorite – Los Arango Reposado (72 USD)
    Rye: — I looking for it … It is no so simple in Ukraine ;)
    Bourbon: Jim Beam White Label (23 USD) (It is shame. I know.)
    Blended Scotch: Famous Grouse 12 y.o. (50 USD)
    Brandy: ArArAt 5 y.o. (12 USD)
    Orange Curacao: Bols Dry Orange Curacao (20 USD)
    Triple Sec: Cointreau (33 USD)
    Pastis: Pernod, Ricard (20 USD both)

    Actually I have more than 100 bottles in my liquore cabinet. You may read full list here:

    You can ask for my opinion about anyone :)

  17. Paul BradleyNo Gravatar says:

    Here we go;

    Vodka: Russian Standard Original
    Then the classic Polish flavours, Zubrowka, Wisniowka, Krupnik & Starka and Cariel
    Vanilla. Then I have a one premium made from each of wheat, grape, potato, rye & grain

    Gin: Beefeater, the only London Dry gin still made and bottled by the distillery in London.

    White Rum: the newly branded Angostura 3yr old white.
    Gold Rum: the newly branded Angostura 5yr old gold.
    Dark Rum: Gosling’s Black Seal.

    Cognac: H by Hine

    Bourbon: Buffalo Trace

    Rye: Rittenhouse

    Tennessee: JD Single Barrel

    Irish: Power’s Gold

    Scotch: Monkey Shoulder triple malt

    Single Malt: Lagavulin 16yr

    Tequila: Ocho 100% Agave Blanco

    Sake: Akashi Tai Honjozo

    Cachaca: Sagatiba

    Absinthe: La Fee Parisian

    Sambuca: Opal Bianca

    and many more in each category with complete differentiation between every product

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