Thus far, Romeo has been the only contributor to the Booze portion of the website and he’s done a fine job of it. Typically, Romeo writes about those $35+ bottles of whiskey….you know, the good shit. Well, since I’ve lived the bulk of 2011 without knowing what percentage of pay I might receive and if my company would exist at all in 2 weeks, I’ve become well versed in the sub-$15 a bottle variety of whiskey, so I figured I’d pen a quick piece about that.
Now, while most of the booze Romeo writes about needs to (and should) be drank neat, or if you insist on a mixer, over ice, the swill I am writing about needs a heavier (more sugary) mixer. Personally, I prefer ginger ale or tonic. Now, I know I typed tonic and you scrinched your nose, stuck out your tongue and went “ugh”, but trust me, tonic is a good (and lighter) whiskey mixer (especially for late morning/early afternoon drinking), so don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. I mean, until eaten, who would have thought a peanut butter and syrup sandwich was a good idea? Here are some of the better whiskeys I’ve found on the bottom shelf:
Well Whiskey: When you go to a bar it’s a simple game. “Well” is cheaper, “call” is more expensive. If you’re in a high end bar, the well might be Jim Beam but if you order a Beam and Ginger then your ass will be charged for a “call”. In a dive bar, “well” is two steps above the “call” that some rich dude pisses out of his over-abused bladder the next morning. That said, I’ve found that if you’re willing to just stick to whatever they’re serving as “well” and not drink anything else the rest of the night not only will you get drunk on the cheap, you’ll avoid the dreaded hangover.
Jim Beam: Okay, honestly, this doesn’t deserve to be in this article but I included it for one reason….most Jack Daniels drinkers don’t understand the differences between Kentucky Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey. Nope, they’re all, “Wha? I got a JD shirt and Lynyrd had a JD themed shirt. It’s all brown and sour mashed and thus the same thing.” These people don’t appreciate nuance and are the type to call grilling “barbecuing”. In reality, Jim Beam is the king of the bottom shelf and while, yes, you can drink it over ice; you really don’t want to. However, the simple fact that you can means it’s earned the crown as the king of the low shelf bourbon.
However, there does come a time when even $14 for a bottle of Beam is tough to justify, and once that time comes, what do you do? You’re looking at this bottom rung of names and labels you don’t know. Some might be good, but most are probably turpentine with food coloring. Well, I’m here to help you since I’ve gone through them all. Some really are turpentine with food coloring (I’m looking at you, Old Grandad), but a lot of them are really good, albeit young, and lacking the nuance that their 7 year and older barrel-aged brethren have.