Stock our $100 liquor cabinet with booze and mixers -- no refrigeration
August 5, 2013 11:44 AM   Subscribe

We've got no more than $100 to spend on booze and mixers to bring to Burning Man. At a minimum, this should keep two of us lightly intoxicated for eight days. In a more perfect world, we'll maintain a nice buzz AND have enough to spare that we can share generously with our neighbors. Oh, and we'll have *no* refrigeration or coolers and no fancy mixologist gear. What should we bring?

I'll be camping near people who are bringing a ton of organic produce, so I may be able to appropriate some fruits and veggies for my drinks. But I won't know what produce they're bringing until I get there, and even if they do bring stuff that works with my booze I need to restrain my mooching to moderate levels. And I will not have any kind of cooler or refrigeration.

Right now I'm leaning toward 1-2 cases of PBR, a bottle of whiskey (but what kind?), a box of cheap red wine, and 2-3 bottles of other booze (but what booze?) plus mixers (but what mixers?). I'm famously terrible at stocking my home liquor cabinet. Add the "no refrigeration" constraint and I'm at a total loss. Help us get our drink on.
posted by croutonsupafreak to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Warm beer is going to be gross, so ditch the PBR. I'd stick to brandy or other alcohol that tastes okay warm.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:46 AM on August 5, 2013

Best answer: Vodka
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 11:48 AM on August 5, 2013

Sake can be drunk warm, especially more inexpensive kinds.
posted by tully_monster at 11:50 AM on August 5, 2013

Best answer: Whiskey & Wine will go the farthest without needing ice/refrigeration.
Tequila straight will also work. So would a cheap scotch like a Dewers.

Vodka + Canned grapefruit juice with no ice = lazy greyhound?
posted by wcfields at 11:50 AM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Your favourite soft drink + cheapish clear spirit (e.g. vodka) seems like a popular choice when degree of inebriation is more important than quality.
posted by pipeski at 11:51 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can get ice at Arctica, at 3:00 and 9:00 plazas. Is there really no way you can bring a small soft-sided lunch cooler or something you can use to cool some cans of beer, or to use to hold drinking ice? It will be worth it.

I like to keep it simple and do vodka plus a mixer from a small can, such as Red Bull or Izze or Knudsen's spritzers.
posted by cabingirl at 11:53 AM on August 5, 2013

Best answer: You'll be sweaty out there. Vodka + Low Sodium V8 (832 mg of potassium per 8 oz. serving vs. only 140 mg of sodium will help keep your electrolyte balance. You can easily get plenty of extra sodium from salty snacks you eat while drinking.)
posted by paulsc at 11:57 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd do some nice juice boxes, juice is going to be okay not-cold.

Vodka, to keep it simple. Flavored vodkas to make neat juice combinations.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:09 PM on August 5, 2013

Response by poster: So would something like this look OK?

2 bottles vodka @$15/ea. - $30
1 bottle whiskey - $20
1 box wine - $15
1 bottle tequila - $15
Assorted individually packaged juices, soft drinks, low-sodium V-8 - $20
TOTAL: $100

I'm passing on brandy and sake because I'm not a huge fan of either. Would it be worth it to scale down on one of these line items to get a schnapps that will go well in morning coffee, or an anise liquor like Sambuca?

Also, since I'm not a whiskey drinker normally, can you folks recommend a specific brand that offers a good product for a decent price?

What else would you adjust up or down?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:15 PM on August 5, 2013

Fresh mint, simple syrup, club soda. Mint makes the drinks taste more refreshing even without ice. Simple syrup gives it a "mixed drink" taste. Club soda keeps you consuming water.

For alcohol, I like gin or Pimms. Vodka, white rum, bourbon, are also good choices if that suits your tastes.

If you can get some lemons and limes then you're good to go. Tom Collins, mojito, Pimm's cup, gimlet, gin rickey, etc.

Simple syrup is 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar, boil, cool, put in a jar. You could also do a bottle of lime/lemon juice, but fresh is best.

Bring straws. Straws make drinks tastier.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:22 PM on August 5, 2013

As far as the whiskey goes, you can get a half-gallon of Heaven Hill for just under $20. It's not gourmet, but it tastes fine and is bourbon. If you've got a Trader Joe's near you, they've got a private label bourbon that's about that price (for a smaller bottle) and tastes great.

Personal taste: I think vodka tastes MUCH better on hot days than whiskey. Whiskey, to me, is more of a winter drink. So if I were you, I'd lose the whiskey and add more vodka, since having enough to last the whole event is a concern of yours.
posted by jbickers at 12:23 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'd skip the whiskey if there's no ice to put it in but then again, I only ever drink it on the rocks anyway. If you're looking for most-drunkenness-per-ounce-carried, there's always Everclear (if you're crazy) or Bacardi 151 (if you're only mostly crazy).

Kahlua goes pretty well in coffee.
posted by jquinby at 12:24 PM on August 5, 2013

$75 worth of Everclear, and $25 worth of boxed fruit/vegetable drinks.
posted by aramaic at 12:25 PM on August 5, 2013 [8 favorites]

Canadian Mist or Evan Williams are also good lower-cost whiskeys.
posted by brilliantine at 12:26 PM on August 5, 2013

...and a reminder that Everclear and B151 are both flammable, if that's any kind of concern.
posted by jquinby at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2013

Yeah, no whiskey if it's going to be hot. You want vodka and gin, except gin is gross warm.

Don't forget that you can get flavored vodka, too. I'm told Firefly sweet tea vodka really tastes like sweet tea; that might be good.
posted by kestrel251 at 12:31 PM on August 5, 2013

Response by poster: Awesome recommendations folks. Though I'm gonna steer clear of the Everclear and 151. *Crouton Supafreak shudders at memories from her wayward youth.*
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:34 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Related: The Room-Temperature Cocktail You Will Swear Is Ice Cold (created specifically for Burning Man)
posted by kathryn at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

a handle of evan williams is about 22 bucks and is actually a very smooth and tasty bourbon. it's quite good neat so worries about ice - and that amount should get you through the week.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 1:03 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

"What do you mean whiskey isn't for summer-drinking?" – The South

I'd bring a bunch of standard, mid-grade bourbon. Probably Jim Beam. I'd made a huge batch of ginger tea (gallons, maybe a whole five-gallon bucket worth). Then, I'd mix those together for eight days.

Also, just a thought, I'd boost the amounts you're considering, depending on how many people your party is going to be, and how much you want to share. Eight days...pretty much my small group of friends and I could go through what you were thinking of in a day or two if we're vacationing/at a music festival.
posted by General Malaise at 1:08 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: General Malaise: This is just for two of us.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:19 PM on August 5, 2013

Oops, sorry, missed that (I even looked!). Your amounts are probably fine then. I was guessing 4-5 of you there.

Oh, I'd also second the idea of having some mint around. Almost any drink can be made tastier with some mint.
posted by General Malaise at 1:31 PM on August 5, 2013

I'd buy lots of vodka now (maybe 5 - 1.5 liter bottles - I think Vodka of the Gods from Trader Joes is great for this application at $11/bottle) and dump it into large 2 liter mason jars with cut-up summer fruit to create infusions. I've made raspberry, strawberry, lemon, lime, grapefruit, peach, lychee, pineapple, and herbal infusions. With an infused vodka, you can drink it on the rocks or with seltzer/club soda and it doesn't need a lot of fuss. There will be enough to share and trade. Bring some citrus for garnishes! You can get ice at BM, so you're all set.
posted by quince at 1:43 PM on August 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Low cost whiskey? Sounds like a job for old crow. Close to me, a handle is 20 bucks, it tastes delicious and I can't recommend it highly enough. Better than evan williams in my opinion and cheaper too.
posted by Carillon at 1:49 PM on August 5, 2013

Best answer: What else would you adjust up or down?

Skip the wine; it will taste gross if you leave it in a hot place for any period of time.

Personally I would just take white liquor (two of vodka, light rum, light tequila) and things to flavor and dilute it it with.
posted by BibiRose at 2:40 PM on August 5, 2013

Vodka and vitamin water will taste just fine without ice. You can drink some of the vitamin water then dump the desired amount of vodka in the bottle and shake it up. You'll thank me when you wake up with no hangover.
posted by jshort at 2:42 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd skip the wine, and get two bottles of whiskey that you can drink straight. Actually fairly smooth but cheap stuff like McNaughton's.

I'd almost go so far as to say skip the tequila too, and just get two handles of decent cheap vodka like Gordons. There is sage wisdom in the vitamin water comment by jshort. I also like the infusions idea.

Tequila is kinda gross unless you get good tequila, or bring all the stuff to make a proper drink with it. I'd rather skip it than get the crappy stuff.

Basically the idea here would be to either be drinking vitamin water+vodka, infusions, or just straight whiskey in a glass/as a shot.

If i didn't want to go with that plan i'd want to just bring the specific fixins for maybe two drinks i liked(like that black rock chiller mentioned!) as opposed to just piles of specific liquors.
posted by emptythought at 4:55 PM on August 5, 2013

(make sure you come to the meetup!)
posted by changeling at 5:28 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Skip the wine. It's gross in the desert, unless you're drinking fizz first thing in the morning after it's gotten nice and cold.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:05 PM on August 5, 2013

There's a lot of alcohol there. And the desert/tiredness makes drinks extra potent (my camp usually mixes things at half strength), so rather than bringing a lot of cheap stuff I'd bring a few bottles of nice stuff. If you're supplying up at Costco, the Kirkland brand liquors are excellent bang for the buck. If you find cooler space somewhere, the Target brand Sangria can be nice at dusk.
posted by Candleman at 7:50 PM on August 5, 2013

Response by poster: I like the way these recommendations are evolving. So maybe something more like:

$35 - Lots of vodka
$30 - GOOD whiskey (but what??)
$20 - assorted mixers (individually packaged juices, soft drinks, low-sodium V-8, Vitamin water, etc.)
$15 - schnapps of some sort.

(I'm adding the schnapps because past experience tells me I like having something sweet to add to my coffee if nobody from a nearby camp drops a bloody mary in my hand in the morning.)

Oh, and we don't have liquor in grocery stores here in Oregon, and I'm not gonna buy a Costco membership and rent a car to make a liquor run to Washington, so I'm stuck with whatever I can find in the state-run liquor stores, alas.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:48 AM on August 6, 2013

Response by poster: Any specific recommendations for smooth whiskeys? It sounds like Evan Williams is popular here. In my default life I can't stand whiskey, but I've enjoyed taking shots on playa and at regional burns, and my traveling companion is a former Louisville, Ky., resident who has excellent discernment and who is putting her faith in my shopping abilities.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:51 AM on August 6, 2013

I like a box of wine for cheap and easy festival/camping drinking, but only rose. White is always better cold and red is too thick/heavy in the heat. But rose? Great hot or cold and yet still refreshing. I always bring a 5 litre cask to these types of things. Bonus? No mixers required.

My main rec is to bring things that you enjoy drinking and that will be refreshing. Nothing worse than only having whiskey left and no one really likes whiskey. I would probably buy one cask of rose, vodka and a bunch of cheap no name "fruit drinks" or flavored sparkling waters for mixers, because that would be sweet, cheap, refreshing and easy to drink.

(I'd actually probably buy everclear and pack the proper dilution ratio because it's just a very cheap concentrated vodka like drink. )

But it really depends on what you already like to drink. If you only really like drinking Jaeger bombs then anything but stocking up on Jaeger and red bull will be kind of a waste.
posted by mosessis at 11:43 AM on August 6, 2013

In my opinion, the best bang for the buck in whiskey is Bulleit. It's reasonably priced and tastes really good on its own.
posted by General Malaise at 12:04 PM on August 6, 2013

Any specific recommendations for smooth whiskeys?

You want Old Forester. It's the working man's Woodford Reserve. (Woodford Reserve is a premium bourbon that actually comes from Old Forester stock - it's the small handful of Forester barrels that are in the "sweet spot" in the warehouse.)
posted by jbickers at 12:40 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, I didn't see this thread until now.

Get a couple bottles of nigori sake, and something to put ice in (a cooler is the classic example, you can refill it at 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00, and it is totally worth it). Chill them and drink when it's 4:00 in the afternoon and still pretty hot. Seriously this is the best thing ever.
posted by aubilenon at 11:16 PM on August 8, 2013

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