Affordable Alternatives to Top-Shelf Liquor

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while handling all the wine and liquor for a multimillion dollar food and beverage operation, it’s that a lot of the liquors we sell are vastly overrated. Pop culture, music more specifically, has influenced many folks’ decisions in the liquor store and convinced them they need to spend too much money if they don’t want rail liquor. Not you…you’re ballin’ on a budget and you’re about to be educated enough to save bucks while still impressing your buddies with your awesome choices.

I’ll give you one example from each of the major groups: vodka, gin, rum, and tequila. It’ll be fun!


If you don’t feel like paying for Grey Goose,

You should drink Three Olives.


· Three Olives is every bit as smooth, crisp, and delicious as Goose

· Three Olives has like fifteen different flavors. I’m not a flavor guy—I think some of the flavors are whack as shit but it’s a selling point for some

· Wine Enthusiast Magazine rates them exactly the same, yet you can find a fifth of Three Olives for at least $7 less than its overhyped friend

· One of the most important competitions in the liquor industry is the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Three Olives has placed; Grey Goose has not.

· Grey Goose is French. And buying it means you hate America.



If you don’t feel like paying for Bombay Sapphire gin,

You should drink Beefeater.


· If you’re drinking gin for the flavor (I don’t), then you want the flavor. Beefeater has a complex, big “bite” which comes from the more complex blend inside. More awesome complex ingredients means it’s more awesome and complex. There’s some complex mathematical rule that proves it. Promise. Complex.

· In the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Beefeater has placed twice; Bombay has not.

· You’ll find Beefeater on shelves for at least $3 less per 750ml bottle. That’s four McDoubles provided you can find a quarter to cover sales tax!




Hm…there are a lot of different rums out there. Let’s go with one that I think is pretty overrated…

If you don’t feel like paying for Pyrat XO Reserve Rum,

You should drink Appleton Estate Special Gold Rum


  • For starters, it got me drunk as shit when I went to Jamaica and made me black out the other night with tuna and dgleese
  • And I mean really drunk. I broke a glass I stole from a bar and wet the bed. Haven’t done that since my 21st birthday in Charleston
  • Oh yeah, the rum. The rum is good! For 260 years, Appleton has been inspiring potheads and bobsled teams to be awesome in Jamaica while drinking their ish.
  • Light amber color. Honeydew, toffee, and roasted nuts come out of medium strength aromas. Light on the palate, then floral, with some herbal and lemon notes. Stole that from the website
  • Best part: Pyrat is 31. Appleton is 14. More money to spend on rubbers.


Tequila! If you don’t feel like paying for Patron,

You should buy El Charro Reposado


  • The bottom line here is it looks expensive and isn’t AT ALL. My roommate Caitlin, who is awesome, bought this little gem at the corner liquor store a few feet from our stoop for a housewarming party. People were impressed that we had “nice tequila.” We didn’t. We had this stuff.
  • “This stuff” packs a ton of good tequila flavor with the smoothness and sweet/smoky aftertaste that 20-something Americans LOVE Mexicans for!
  • C’mon, you’re getting a good Reposado (Spanish for ‘rested,’ meaning aged between two months and one year) for $15 less than a great Silver. Sounds like a no-brainer. Plus you’re just taking shots anyway, you lush.


Moral of the story: You don’t have to compromise in the liquor store. There are the liquors we’ve decided as a culture are “top-shelf” and worth way too much money, and there is the cheap shit. But there’s a lot in-between that tastes every bit as good and will end up saving you a few bucks in the end. Thanks, boutmypaper! And I must say, LOVELY format!





4 Comments on "Affordable Alternatives to Top-Shelf Liquor"

  1. virginiaslimz says:

    great idea for a post. Good suggestions. However, I would say this about the SanFran world spirits competition…producers have to choose (and pay) to enter their products into the competition and almost every entry that is remotely decent “places” in one way or another. I’m not positive but I don’t believe either Grey Goose (which I don’t care for) or Bombay have entered into the competition in recent years. So I wouldn’t put too much stock in using that to determine the comparative quality.

  2. virginiaslimz says:

    i just went back and noticed who the author of this post was, and despite you being the only person on this blog professionally qualified to talk spirits…i take what i said back….terrible idea for a post…lousy choices…Grey Goose is the greatest liquid on earth.

  3. Boutmypaper says:

    Dom, good looks on the SanFran ish. Makes sense, if you know you’re good you don’t have to enter competitions. But I think the alternatives are just as good. Just my feelins

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