Bartenders Tell Us The Best Value Booze Bottles For The Holidays

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Halloween has been over for more than a week. That means the holidays aren’t far behind. This is bad news for budget home bartenders, especially anyone severely lacking in the booze department. In the weeks ahead, there will be a lot of entertaining to do, and if you’re not ready everyone will feel it.

If you don’t want your guests to leave wondering why you only have plastic handles of bottom shelf spirits for their holiday cocktail creations, you’d better take a look at what our favorite bartenders have to say about the best high-value booze. Check out their go-to bang-for-your-buck bottles before you start hosting. From rye, to bourbon, to mezcal, to Amari, to gin, to vodka, they’ve got you covered.

Old Overholt Rye Whiskey – $17

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Sam Cable, head bartender at P.S. Speakeasy in Kansas City

“I talk about Old Overholt all the time. It’s cheap in price, but not in flavor. Works in a Manhattan or a Horsefeather; it even works by itself surprisingly well.”

Larceny Bourbon – $23

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Evan Hosaka, lead bartender at Electra at The Venetian Las Vegas

“Favorite bargain bottle for fall would be Larceny Bourbon. Price hovered near $20 a 750ml bottle. It is 92 proof wheated bourbon. Easy to enjoy neat or on the rocks. To put it in perspective with other wheated bourbons, Makers Mark is about $30, WL Weller reserve is about $20… though I don’t like either as much as Larceny. WL Weller 12 yr goes for about $30 and Pappy Van Winkle is much more expensive.”

Cynar Liquer – $30

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Harrison Peaks, bartender at The Patterson House in Nashville

“Cynar is perfect for all seasons and that includes fall. Having Cynar in the house, especially in the fall, to make a Black Negroni, is the literal best thing to keep at your bar when the temperatures drop.”

Bulleit 10 Year Old Bourbon – $34

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Sebastian Gonzalez, Mixologist at Hilton Buenos Aires

“A delightful corn-spirit, Bulleit 10 Year Bourbon is aged in American white oak and offers notes of vanilla, coconut, hazelnut, caramel, and dried fruit. Its aroma is reminiscent of the season and its deep caramel color will remind you of fallen autumn leaves.”

Four Roses Yellow Label – $19

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Ben Rouse, bar lead at Henley in Nashville

“What’s my favorite bargain bottle for fall? Four Roses Yellow Label. This is their baseline juice and it’s incredible for the price point! Warm, sweet and inviting, this bourbon is a crowd pleaser for certain.”

Diplomático Rum – $30

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Ben Potts, bar manager at Beaker & Gray in Miami

“So many to choose from, but I’m really impressed with how affordable some of the Spanish-style rums are like Diplomático from Venezuela.”

Canadian Club Rye – $20

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Lou DiNunzio, beverage manager at REX 1516 in Philadelphia

“What’s my favorite bargain bottle for fall? I’m going to stick with the Canadian Club rye whiskey. For the price point, it’s hard to beat the drinkability.”

Rittenhouse Rye – $21

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Adam Koelb, beverage director at The Rickey at Dream Midtown in New York City

“My favorite bargain bottle for fall drinking is Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey 100 proof. This spirit is incredibly smooth and with its 100 proof label, the liquor contains the right amount of heat to keep you warm and feeling toasty. It also blends great in well-made cocktails and is approachable enough to sip.”

Seagram’s 7 – $9

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Chris Gere, manager at Brennan’s of Houston

“Favorite fall bargain bottle: Seagram’s 7. Most whiskey enthusiasts like to knock Canadian Blended Whiskeys. But when the weather cools down I’ll take Seven and Sevens all day.”

Punt e Mes – $22

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Laura Kelton, bar manager at the Sportman’s Club in Chicago

“My go-to bargain bottle in the winter months is Punt e Mes sweet vermouth. Its versatility in both shaken and stirred cocktails, along with hot beverages and highballs, make it a staple in my house during the holiday season.”

Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon – $18

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Don Hernandez, beverage director at Holston House in Nashville

“My bargain bottle for fall is Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (White label), you can find this bad boy in the stores for around $20 or less. It won’t break the bank and it’s perfect for making cocktails and long drinks.”

Banhez Mezcal – $30

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Ian Browning, bartender at The Ides in New York City

“Banhez mezcal has been my go-to lately. It’s a blend of cultivated and wild agave, and the wild stuff lends a lot of vegetal complexity. This stuff makes a cool riff on a penicillin but holds up when sipping it neat too.”

Ramazzotti Amaro – $23

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Jeremy Williams, lead mixologist at Lumber Baron Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan

“Ramazzotti Amaro. There’s just so many avenues you can go down with Amaro. Aside from enjoying it on its own, it gives an herbaceous lift to stirred cocktails and can be a great mate for bold coffee or espresso. Ramazzotti has flavors of citrus, cola, caramel, anise, maple and mint. Its menta and fernet counterparts are not to be missed either. For under $20 on sale, it’s a steal.”

Ford’s Gin – $22

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André Ishac, bartender at Tartinery in New York City

Ford’s Gin is an excellent dry Gin, and at around $22-25 for a liter, it’s a great bargain choice. At Tartinery, we use it as a base for many of our cocktails. We also infuse it into the Butterfly Pea Flowers we use for our violet cocktail, ‘Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi’.”

Tito’s Vodka – $22

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Peter Szekely, beverage operation manager at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in The Bahamas

“Tito’s Vodka. As much I used to vibe with more expensive well-known French vodkas, I now love Tito’s. Extremely silky, smooth, clear. It’s super easy to drink and works excellently in cocktails such as Cosmopolitans or Martinis. Great choice to kick off the evening. I love the fact that people with gluten allergies can also enjoy — as this one is made with yellow corn. The micro-distillation in a pot still allows them to make it even smoother.”

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