Drink This, Not That

Ways to save money on your liquor bill


We all know that person who always insists on ordering the finest liquor available. You know, the gal who just HAS to have Grey Goose -- never mind the fact that she also wants it mixed with cranberry juice, in which case, she's not really in it for the pure taste of the vodka.

In most cases, the more you spend, the better the product, but when it comes to liquor, sometimes you're paying for a pretty bottle -- or just plain old hype.

Maria Hunt, aka The Bubbly Girl and author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion, offers some scenarios when spending less is actually getting more -- or at least just as good.

Drink This: Mount Gay Eclipse Rum $18.99
Not That: Pyrat XO $24.99
The Bubbly Girl says: With it's smooth flavors of butterscotch, cinnamon and pleasant sweetness, this is an extraordinarily pleasing rum experience. It dates back to 1910, and is crafted in Barbados at the oldest rum distillery in the world. Drink this one on the rocks, or mix it with Coke if you must.

Drink This: Sobieski Vodka $9.99
Not That: Belvedere 29.99
The Bubbly Girl says: Sure there are lots of sexy and pricey designer vodka brands out there, but at the end of the day, all vodka is still an odorless, flavorless distilled spirit. Sobieski is from the leading premium vodka distiller in Poland. Created from premium Dankowski rye grain, it's distilled multiple times so it goes down easily with a hint of licorice flavor.

Drink This: Boodles British Gin $18.99
Not That: Hendrick's Gin $28.99
The Bubbly Girl says: A proper British gin with it woodsy flavors of juniper, sage and cinnamon and a clean dry finish, it's perfect in a martini or a vintage cocktail like a French 75. This one was rated a 96 by the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago, the spirits rating group that put Grey Goose on the map.

Drink This: Landy VS Cognac $22.99
Not That: Don't pass the Courvoisier $30.99
The Bubbly Girl says: Landy is the value line created by Cognac Ferrand, a company known for their magnificent aged Ferrand cognacs. But Landy Cognac is no poor relation; the VS shows its refined pedigree by being extraordinarily smooth with hints of vanilla, caramel and spice. It's affordability makes it perfect for mixing in cocktails, or with Coke if you must.

The Bubbly Girl is in Chicago this week to celebrate her new book. Join her on Thursday at Pops for Champagne from 6 - 8 p.m. $25 includes Domaine Carneros sparkling wine cocktails, nibbles and an autographed book. Email rsvp@popsforchampagne.com.

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