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Stocking Up
By Stephanie Mantello

Intro | Spirits | Mixers | Other Goodies | Servitude

Core Spirits
The shelf at the liquor store may look intimidating, but there are only a few basic alcohols needed for many popular drinks. There is a wide variety of prices, qualities, and flavors, so try as many types as you can before you buy.

Vodka is filtered to remove flavor, so higher quality vodka tastes curiously similar to water. Basically, you're paying more (money) for less (taste)! However, because of its lack of flavor, vodka blends easily and is the basis for today's most popular martinis and cosmopolitans.

Gin varies greatly since it includes a variety of herbal and spicy flavors. Try before you buy; it's a good excuse to go out and order gin and tonics with friends! Then put your money where your mouth is and buy a gin that suits your tastes.

Remember to get both light and dark rums for different drinks. Check out spiced rums if you want to add pizzazz to a rum and coke.

There are many types of whiskey. Bourbon, Scotch, Irish, and blended are just a few. Bourbon is great for mixing, especially if you like mint juleps. Scotch is sophisticated sipping liquor normally served alone or on ice. Irish whiskey is the basis for Irish coffee, a good choice for cold weather drink-lovers. And blended whiskey can be used in many drinks calling simply for “whiskey.”

It's not all about margaritas! Some tequilas rival Scotch in their smooth complexity. If you are mainly concerned with mixing tequila and juice for a Tequila Sunrise or Margarita, buy good-quality tequila that will blend well, and hold off on the sipping tequila.

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