If you’ve ever hit the corner store on a last minute liquor run or if you’ve ever attended a college party, then you’ve definitely encountered the scourge of the plastic booze bottle. It makes frequent appearances as a last resort late in the evening or as the only viable option on the shoestring budget of a college senior on work-study. Especially in today’s spirits world in which brands are creating beautiful and intricate bottles and labels, plastic bottles look cheap. And the reputation for the liquid inside, which often does not even rise to the level of mediocre, is in some cases well-earned. But just because a bottle is shatterproof doesn’t mean you should disregard it completely. Here, the best booze that comes in plastic.
Smirnoff, the original vodka used to create the Moscow Mule, still stands up after all these years as a quality bottle at an affordable price (an even more affordable price when it comes in a plastic bottle). Its flavors are faintly spicy and minty, but those are not the reasons it ended up in the Moscow Mule in the first place—that was simply good marketing. That said, those inherent flavors certainly make it a good choice for the gingery drink. The brand has branched out into some wackier flavors (cinnamon churros and iced cake for example), but we’d encourage you to stick to the standard red label.
Plastic bottle or no, Wild Turkey 101 is one of our favorite affordable bourbons period. The plastic packaging belies a robust, spicy (for a bourbon), high rye whiskey. And at 101 proof, it provides a real punch to anyone tossing back a glass.
From “spicy for a bourbon” to just spicy. We’re not embarrassed to say that we have, on occasion, enjoyed a Fireball or two. Fireball comes in a variety of packaging options: plastic, glass, even a box with a tap. The world’s best-selling flavored whiskey tastes like a whole wad of Big Red and is not for sipping. Shoot it, turn it into Jello Shots, or stir it in a cinnamon cocktail.
The caramelly, entry-level bottling from Evan Williams is one of the best bang-for-your-buck bourbons on the market. You can certainly sip it straight, but we find it more useful as the base of a sweeter bourbon cocktail like a Mint Julep.
A great value and a reliable bottle no matter what packaging it comes in, Beam Straight Bourbon is one of the easiest drinking whiskeys you’ll find. And let’s be real, if you’re picking something up in a plastic bottle, that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
If you’re paying $8-11 for a plastic bottle of vodka, you’re taking your drinking life in your hands. It can be a real game of Russian roulette (pun intended). Words sometimes associated with vodkas in this price range are “acetone” or “Lemon Pledge” or “alcoholic mop water” (that last one might just be us). But Sobieski is great because it tastes like almost nothing at all. If you need a vodka to shoot at a party or an ingredient in a drink like a Long Island Iced Tea, you can feel confident with a shatterproof bottle of this Polish brand.
Gin’s are tricky, because unlike vodkas, which can get away with tasting like nothing, or whiskies, which have the help of the barrels they are aged in to at least mitigate other flavor issues that could crop, the juniper spirit-primed spirit is primarily defined by the blend of botanicals used to flavor it and how skillfully that process is carried out. So mass market, plastic gin bottles are rarely up to snuff. But if you’re just looking to day drink your way through some Gin and Tonics, you could do worse than a plastic handle of Gordon’s. Its London Dry is juniper forward with just some twinges of citrus. And pair it with a reasonable tonic and a squeeze of lime and you’ll have yourself an honest to goodness cocktail.