Costcos are vast, yawning stores with everything you need to throw a cookout for 80 or survive the first six years of the zombie apocalypse. And that includes quality alcohol. The store puts it out under its own Kirkland brand, typically in oversized, 1.75 liter bottles. But just as you don’t always want 136 Gogurts in your fridge at once, you don’t need a half gallon of every single spirit on your bar. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t buy from America’s bulk grocer.
Vodka is a spirit you can stick in the freezer and forget about until you need it. It’ll last a lifetime in there. And at around $20, the Kirkland Signature French Vodka from Costco is one of the best bangs for your buck in the spirit market, period.
If you’re the type to run through G&Ts by the bucketful, you’ll be glad you got an extra large bottle of gin. Costco has its own brand of London Dry Gin, but unlike some of its other spirits, the Kirkland gin drinks like a budget bottle and doesn’t quite stand up to the others the store sells. Opt for a big bottle of Beefeater, Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire.
This isn’t specific to Costco’s own Kirkland brand—the only one they offer is a jumbo bottle of spiced rum, which, depending on how many Coquitos you drink, may or may not be worth investing in. But Costco does offer extra large versions of more universally applicable rums like Bacardi Superior and Myers’s dark. If you’re like us, you’ll end up needing an abundance of rum to make a puch sometime soon and buying at Costco will leave you with enough left over to for all the Daiquiris and Swizzles you could want.
Whiskey: Don’t Buy
It isn’t that Costco’s whisk(e)y offerings are subpar—they have very affordable (and definitely respectable) mid-range bottles like Bulleit, Knob Creek and Glenmorangie 10 year old. And Kirkland bourbon and single malt scotch—some of it as much as 20 years old—is good enough to sip neat. But you should carve out some space for whiskey diversity on your bar. The oversized bottles from Costco can leave little room for the bourbon, rye and various other single malts worth trying.
Tequila: Don’t Buy
Tequila has rapidly become one of the most interesting spirits available, with flavor profiles that run the gamut from fruity, to earthy, to throat-coatingly smokey. And while Costco is good at many things, it does not have much in the way of tequila variety. With all the blancos, reposados and añejos out in the world right now, you’ll have much better luck at even a so-so liquor store.
Vermouth: Don’t Buy
Costco hasn’t come out with a Kirkland extra dry vermouth at this point, but they do have other brands sold in 750-ml bottles. However, unless you have a couple Martinis every single day, buying that much vermouth is a recipe for disaster. Since vermouth only lasts for a couple months at the most, you’ll be happier and your Martinis will be fresher if you just restock smaller bottles regularly.