A nice gesture, and a nice drink to match
June 3, 2007 1:30 PM   Subscribe

What's the best liquor to both give as a gift and to drink as straight shots?

The longish (but cute) story: It's been a running joke between my new (long distance) boyfriend and I that we're going to save the really sordid tales of our past relationships for a face-to-face talk over a fifth of some ambiguous hard alcohol. He's coming up on Saturday, and I want to give him a fifth with a label that I will make myself (something about Sad Story Serum or something to that effect), giving him the discretion of when he's ready to open up, and to have me dump my proverbial baggage, as well. The idea is that if I give it to him now, he will bring it on our camping trip over the 4th of July.

Anyways, the point of the question. What's going to go down smoothest? If you were going to get yourself something to drink straight, or as a gift, what would you buy? I'm looking for both general alcohol and brand names, under or around $20. We're both drinkers, but more beer, wine, and mixed drinks types.
posted by messylissa to Food & Drink (51 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by i_cola at 1:39 PM on June 3, 2007

For me - Jagermeister, or a really good peaty scotch.
posted by Flashman at 1:39 PM on June 3, 2007

Tequila and some shot glasses.

If that's too strong, you could try a flawored rum. Bacardi Big Apple rum is one of my favourites. :)
posted by Memo at 1:41 PM on June 3, 2007

posted by i_cola at 1:45 PM on June 3, 2007

I've been told that a good sipping tequila is unmatched. (I myself don't drink any longer, so I wouldn't be able to confirm that from personal experience.)

That would be a tequila labeled "Tequila 100% de Agave" or "Tequila 100% puro de Agave", which was aged in oak barrels. It won't be cheap. And you wouldn't have to do the salt-and-lime thing, though you could.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:45 PM on June 3, 2007

I am of the opinion that bourbon does the best double-duty as both a sipping and shooting beverage. 20 bucks will get you some not-too-bad stuff (Maker's is what I would recommend Maker's Mark). However, if you're willing to raise your budget a mere $10, a wealth of new choices arise.

Also, whiskey is the classic drown your sorrows booze.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:45 PM on June 3, 2007

2nd Maker's Mark, for the price its hard to find better bourbon.
posted by baphomet at 1:47 PM on June 3, 2007

Remy Martin ACRU Champagne cognac from Trader Joe's
posted by hortense at 1:48 PM on June 3, 2007

Thirding Maker's Mark, but Wild Turkey is also a good choice.
posted by Loto at 1:49 PM on June 3, 2007

I personally think that this is a terrible idea and will not end well, but if you insist, I'd suggest a bottle of Power's whiskey. It's cheap, sort of sweet, and produces abysmal hangovers. You'll want to be hungover the next day. It will nicely bookend what will inevitably be yet another addition to your compendium of sordid relationships past.

Please post a follow up!
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:49 PM on June 3, 2007

Can you get Bailey's where you are? It's a cream-based whiskey liquor, and served cold over ice (or straight up) is absolutely delicious and very more-ish. I'm sure that there are alternatives on the market (there certainly are here) but nothing is ever quite like the real thing...
posted by Chunder at 1:50 PM on June 3, 2007

Feloniousmonk- I didn't want to get into it in the question, but rest assured, we know what we're getting into. We both had a significant long-term mistake of a relationship in our respective pasts and have talked about them at length. The liquor is to share the sordid details, although that doesn't necessarily have to happen. It's more about the gesture of being open with one another as we move to a more serious relationship.

Steven C. - I was thinking about tequila, but wasn't sure about the whole salt & lime thing. Care to spell it out for me?
posted by messylissa at 1:54 PM on June 3, 2007

Don't bother with salt and lime if you buy high quality tequila. That whole rigamarole is just to cover up the taste of the terrible stuff.
posted by shadow vector at 1:56 PM on June 3, 2007

Put salt between thumb and index finger on back of left hand. Hold shot glass of tequila in salted hand and lemon wedge in the other. Lick salt, slam the tequila, then suck lemon.

You don't have to do it but it's fun.

posted by Memo at 1:57 PM on June 3, 2007

I'd recommend a reposado if you go the tequila route. There's three types: blanco, reposado, and anejo. These are aged for progressively longer times. All good, but in my opinion reposados are the best introduction if you don't know tequila that well.
posted by shadow vector at 1:59 PM on June 3, 2007

Rye Whiskey (Overholt).
posted by kickingtheground at 2:08 PM on June 3, 2007

Good tequila should fall in your price range or a little more. Last time I bought a bottle of Patron it was 30-something dollars. You could also look for a rum in that price range, like one of the grades of Appleton Estate, some are surprisingly good on their own.

I think whiskey, brandy or cognac in that price range is often not smooth, but tastes vary. Henry McKenna might be a decent bourbon choice (I'm personally not fond of Maker's Mark, that's just me, but I know lots of other people swear by it). I continue to be impressed at the drinkability of Jim Beam rye considering its low, low price.

You know the two of you don't have to drink the whole thing at one sitting, right?
posted by gimonca at 2:17 PM on June 3, 2007

Definitely a bourbon.
posted by mrunderhill at 2:19 PM on June 3, 2007

Nthing a good bourbon. Goes down smoothly and warms the innards.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:31 PM on June 3, 2007

Out of your price range suggestion: Cointreau. (40% alcohol orange infused brandy from France. it is delicious and, considering that you and he are more wine/beer/mixed drink people, would be delicious enough to drink alone)

Not out of your price range suggestion: whiskey. I see whiskey more of a sad-story, chatty drink. Tequila seems more of a "go out and do crazy shit" drink. At least in my experience.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 2:39 PM on June 3, 2007

Bushmills, gets better as the night goes on and the hangover the next day will be memorable.
posted by kanemano at 2:46 PM on June 3, 2007

too all those that said maker's mark.. cheers. i would absolutely recommend it.
posted by chasles at 2:59 PM on June 3, 2007

Seconding Cointreau. Its one of those things that is just completely meant to be shared. Having just recently finished a bottle of Maker's Mark, I'd advise against it, but that may be for personal reasons. Look into getting a not-too-expensive bottle of blended scotch - personally, I like Famous Grouse. If you feel the need to cut it, a bit of sweet & sour mix will make some nice scotch sours (or you can make the real drink).
posted by devilsbrigade at 3:04 PM on June 3, 2007

Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey or Jameson.
posted by pazazygeek at 3:08 PM on June 3, 2007

if you want to go with bourbon, get the Jim Beam with the black label on it. It's a good deal more drinkable than the regular stuff. I think a fifth runs about $22 where I am at.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:15 PM on June 3, 2007

For me, it would be Goldschlager. It's the perfect for the sharing of sordid stories. And it's tasty too.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 3:37 PM on June 3, 2007

Wild Turkey or Teacher's would be my choice, personally.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:11 PM on June 3, 2007

Meh, bourbon, whisky, and tequila drinkers. Get a decent bottle of vodka, like maybe Tito's Handmade. Acquire OJ, punch, or any other favorite refreshment. Do shots, drink refreshment, repeat. After the first shot or so, decent vodka drinks like water. Unlike burbon, whisky and tequila, a beer/wine drinker will not even notice that they are drinking hard stuff. Newbie drinkers moving to hard liquor and starting a night with burbon, whiskey or tequila are going to end up sick the night before, and still sick the morning after.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:28 PM on June 3, 2007

Tequila and he's the correct way to drink it.
posted by any major dude at 5:29 PM on June 3, 2007

A good tequila is better than anything out there, IMO. It can range from sweet to smoky depending on whether you get a Blanco, Reposado, or Anejo.

Anejo is more like whiskey or scotch, but has the wonderful flavor of agave, rather than tasting like vodka put in an oak barrel (again, IMO!). It is aged for at least a year in an oak barrel previously used to age whiskey. It turns out rather dark and flavorful.

Reposado is aged for less time, so maintains more of the "fresh" agave flavor and takes on less of the woody flavors.

Blanco is poured straight from the distiller into the bottle and is incredibly good if the distiller is on their game. It lets the full flavor of the agave shine through.

Generally Blanco is harsh and Anejo is smooth, although the Patron blanco I've had in the last year is incredibly smooth and flavorful.

Since you're giving yourself a $20 limit Patron and Herradurra won't cut it, but Cuervo 1800 will. I can't believe I'm saying this publically (regular Cuervo is what gives Tequila its bad name, being 49% bottom of the barrel filler!), but Cuervo 1800 is 100% blue agave and is incredibly good for being Cuervo and pretty good in its own right, and is half the price of Patron or Herradura.

Sauza makes some OK types as well, and is pretty cheap for being 100% blue agave (although only some of their varieties are, be careful) but I have never cared for their flavor except for making margaritas.

Oh, and keep a lime on hand, but not to cover up the flavor. Any alcohol might give you a burning sensation in your throat if it's been a while since you've had it. The lime will completely eliminate that, and tastes good, to boot. ;)

Besides, I've known people to do the salt and lime thing with the most top shelf tequila, not to cover up the bad flavor, but because it's a fun party ritual that they carried over from their days of drinking crap. As one gets older, crap liquor tends to have a bad effect that good liquor doesn't, but sometimes it's fun to enjoy the rituals of youth.

P.S. Patron doesn't make their own tequila, they bottle whatever they think is best at the time, so you always get something of good quality, but it's not as consistent in flavor from year to year as others. That said, the past year's Patron has been excellent.
posted by wierdo at 5:40 PM on June 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

When I go camping, I fill my flask with Maker's Mark.

Contents aside, a flask makes a good gift and makes the liquor easy to transport. Trading swigs out of a flask seems friendlier than doing shots. A flask is a lot smaller than a fifth, but do you really want to split 17 shots between the two of you?
posted by aneel at 5:41 PM on June 3, 2007

I'm partial to Vodka, Stoli Raspberry being very sippable.
posted by mazienh at 5:43 PM on June 3, 2007

I too am a beer, wine, mixed drink type, and there's no way I'm sipping/shooting bourbons, tequilas, whiskeys and the like. I'll end the night stone cold sober with no good stories told. While some great brands are recommended here, they're only going to do the trick if you can actually drink them.

My choice for both shooting or sipping straight: Sambuca. The bottle I bought last weekend was $25 (though I think on sale at my grocery store). This is the only brand I've had.

I've never tried either sipping or shooting Cointreau, but that's not a bad idea. Both Sambuca and Cointreau are 40% alcohol by volume.
posted by iguanapolitico at 6:24 PM on June 3, 2007

PS - Bailey's is delectable but only 17% alcohol content, so you're going to be drinking a whole lot of heavy stuff to achieve your goal. At that level, I'd buy a couple bottles of decent wine, myself.
posted by iguanapolitico at 6:27 PM on June 3, 2007

Wow, these are a lot of good options. I'm leaning towards the vodka, as I know that we both like it as a mixer, but I'll keep all the other options in mind when I'm actually in the liquor store. I might not even go for a fifth, and get a pint instead...just to put everyone's hearts at ease. I'm fresh of my college drinking days, so I forget that a fifth sounds like a lot to most people! I think the ability to impose my own label may sway my decision.

Oh, and Car Pie- Thank You for reminding me about Goldschlagger. I had completely forgotten about it, and it used to be one of my all time favorites!
posted by messylissa at 7:10 PM on June 3, 2007

Remember, you don't have to lick the salt off your HAND. You don't even necessarily need to lick it off yourself. This seems like an ideal occasion to experiment with alternate salt licking sites.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:12 PM on June 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was going to second the Tuaca advice but on second thought...selfmedicating's advice right above seems rather spot on considering the ocassion.
posted by mmascolino at 7:40 PM on June 3, 2007

If you're planning on drinking the whole bottle, definitely only get vodka. A bottle's worth of whiskey will give y'all wicked hangovers. And I might just be projecting, but a bottle's worth of tequila will make you do really stupid stuff.

And with vodka, you can buy something really cheap, run it through a Brita filter a few times, and have a great story to go with the great liquor.
posted by J-Train at 8:05 PM on June 3, 2007

I've seen Herradurra blanco at the store for 18.99. For Tequilla, it's pretty good. Patron or Tres Generacions is the way to go if you're willing to splurge a little. If you're mixing, it goes GREAT with some fresh-squeezed limes.
posted by jmd82 at 8:21 PM on June 3, 2007

Why limit oneself? Obtain several dozen airplane (i.e. 50ml) bottles of assorted hooches, and crack one open with each new story.
posted by milquetoast at 8:42 PM on June 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

Milquetoast - That is an awesome idea...my favorite by far!
posted by messylissa at 9:03 PM on June 3, 2007


I'm such a girl. Your boy might not approve. But the Coconut was the only way my friends could get me to drink for the first time...
posted by rhoticity at 9:33 PM on June 3, 2007

Boy, if you handed me $20 in the liquor store and told me I'd be drinking it straight, I'd be headed right for the bottle of Maker's.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:02 PM on June 3, 2007

I've always felt vodka shots are like drinking the devil's urine, but to each his own I guess.

I would go with tequila. The way to drink it so it drinks easy is shaken. Get a drink shaker, put some ice in it, add the tequila and pour it out. It looks cool in the shot glass, almost like absinthe and goes down smooth. If you don't have a shaker you can use two cups of different sizes.
posted by afu at 10:41 PM on June 3, 2007

@ wierdo

"P.S. Patron doesn't make their own tequila, they bottle whatever they think is best at the time, so you always get something of good quality, but it's not as consistent in flavor from year to year as others. That said, the past year's Patron has been excellent."

I am not denying that you are right with this statement, but I was not a ble to find anything online that backs this up. Can you provide some backup links for this statement?
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 10:44 PM on June 3, 2007

This is no time to be thinking about hangovers! While vodka or bourbon might be more enjoyable, nothing says taking shots and telling truths like tequila. Get a nice reposado to make it a little easier on yourself, but it's not supposed to be so easy. Suffering together through the shots binds you together through a struggle. The ritual of the lime and salt borders on a religious communion. For enjoyment, make yourself an appletini. For bonding... and getting thoroughly fucked up... tequila shots are the answer. No ice, no mixers. Two people, two shot glasses, and a bottle. That's right romantic, that is.

full disclosure: I can't drink tequila. I lose control. But I think that's what makes it perfect for laying it on the line. ;)
posted by team lowkey at 12:58 AM on June 4, 2007

Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey or Jameson.

Just in terms of further edification, keep in mind that most distilleries will typically offer the same brand of whiskey at varying ages. I find that older whiskies go down more smoothly. Your typical bottom-end whiskey will be aged twelve years. More expensive bottles are aged 15 years, 25 years, 30 years, and 50 years. These make for great gifts. Another issue of some debate is whether whiskey should be had neat or on the rocks. Either way, I don't recommend chilled shots of whiskey. But for sipping, many people agree that a touch of water helps unlock the flavor of this type of alcohol.

I don't really like Maker's Mark or Wild Turkey, but they are quite popular at the bar. Of the three, I'd go with Jameson. And then in turn, I'd say Macallan trumps Jameson. You also have what I would characterize as your angry man's whiskey candidates - Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. Lots of bite, and great for brooding. You might even rediscover the lisp you had as a kid. Again, great gifts.

I grew up in a household with bottles of Cointreau and Grand Marnier ready for guests. Cointreau is tasty, although I have to admit I've never had it straight. I find these to be civilized drinks - for sipping, not for getting drunk. I'd actually put Goldschlager in this category, although quite honestly it deserves it's own category, along with Jaegermeister, as drinks that I would currently refer to as "poison", based on a handful of near-death experiences I had with them in college.

With the rise of the "tequila bar", you may already know that the sky is the limit when it comes to tequilas of differing age, flavour and price. (The most I've ever seen anybody spend on a shot of tequila is $75.) While Patron is a mainstay of the jet-setting crowd, I highly recommend Cazadores for a good time. A better taste at a better price, quite frankly. Coffee flavored tequilas is the next big thing, but I think they taste like shit. I should add that chilling the tequila shot is a great way of reducing that satanic burn in the esophagus that momentarily leaves you speechless, having slammed your shot glass upside down on the table and sucking on a lime just to stay conscious.

Of all the shots, I find the vodka shot to be the least entertaining. Although I can't really say anything bad about vodka. I just perceive it as something that requires mixers. No surprises here. Ketel One is my favorite because it becomes invisible when added to your favorite juice.

I avoid gin and rum altogether.

I think the three linked liquors I added here meet your price requirement, are easily found at your local store, and are great representatives of their category.
posted by phaedon at 2:20 AM on June 4, 2007

Okay, I have obviously vacillated quite a bit, but Team Lowkey, you speak to my heart. That's exactly the sentiment I was looking for, whether or not you intended it to be tongue-in-cheek. Now onto wading through all the tequila advice to best make my selection...
posted by messylissa at 11:55 AM on June 4, 2007

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.

I wish I could drink like a lady.
I can take one or two at the most.
Three and I’m under the table.
Four and I’m under the host.
— Dorothy Parker
posted by KRS at 12:07 PM on June 5, 2007

personally, I like Famous Grouse

Me too.
posted by grouse at 2:28 AM on June 6, 2007

(Making a note to try the Cazadores next time.)
posted by gimonca at 1:06 PM on June 9, 2007

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