The number one rule of being a good guest: Never show up empty handed. But you don’t have to drop $200 on a fancy bottle of scotch; there are some great, affordable bottles out there that’ll make you look like a pro when you walk through the front door. These five spirits all cost less than $30 each and will secure your invitation to the next shindig.
Time and again, Four Roses Yellow Label proves itself to be one of the best value bourbons on the market. A floral nose bursting with pear and honey gives way to notes of light spice and crisp apple. Its long, soft finish makes it perfect for sipping neat or mixing into cocktails.
Berkshire Mountain Distillers crafts their award-winning Greylock Gin using spring water that flows directly from the mountains to their Great Barrington, MA distillery. Named after the tallest peak in the Berkshires, their American take on a London Dry gin is licorice-forward with citrus peel, juniper and coriander notes. It has an herbal finish with spicy hints of pepper and cinnamon. It tastes great in cocktails like the Bee Sting and Last Word.
Brugal distills their añejo expression from fermented molasses and ages the liquid for up to five years in ex-bourbon casks, which gives the rum its bright amber hue. You can smell the wood on the nose, and it’s accompanied by hints of chocolate and citrus. It has a buttery taste of caramel, vanilla and coconut with a dry, spiced finish that makes the spirit perfectly great for sipping or mixing into a tiki cocktail.
A bottle of liqueur is an unexpected but worthwhile gift—especially when it’s as fragrant and tasty as Giffard’s grapefruit spirit. Producers extract the essential oils found in grapefruit peels through steam distillation, which gives their pamplemousse liqueur a irresistibly juicy, sweet-tart scent. It has a perfectly balanced flavor profile that’s equally sweet, tart and bitter, so even the biggest liqueur skeptics will enjoy a splash in an extra brut glass of sparkling wine.
Laird’s has been producing aged apple brandy longer than anyone else in America, and this overproof version of their classic bottling is a nod to the company’s survival through Prohibition. It has a piquant nose filled with baking spices, and the first sip will warm your palate with honey, red apple and a sweet, oaky vanilla finish. Sip this spirit neat or on the rocks after a great meal, or mix it into a Jack Rose.