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  • Apr7

    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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