Recommended Brands

That’s a nice list, Dan — Robert Hess,
author of  The Essential Bartender’s Guide

We've accumulated recommendations from many sources, including first hand. Taste and personal preferences sway choices heavily, particularly above the economy level. Feel free to add comments with suggestions.

Product Economy Everyday Premium
Absinthe Herbsaint (not true absinthe) Lucid  
Amari Luxardo Bitter (Campari knock-off) Campari, Cynar, Fernet Branca (strong menthol), Averna or Ramazzotti. Other amari recommendations Sibilia (superb, strongly bitter), dell'Erborista
Aquavit   Linie  
Bitters Angostura, Peychaud's, Regans' Orange #6   Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bokers, Bittermens Xocaltl Mole
Bourbon Old Grand Dad 114, Evan Williams Black, Elijah Craig, Jim Beam, Ezra Brooks Buffalo Trace, Evan Williams Single Barrel, Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek, Bulleit (heavy rye), Maker's Mark George T. Stagg
Cachaça Cachaca 51, Mae de Ouro   Leblon
Calvados Le Compte, Morin Selection, Laird's Bonded (apple brandy) Daron Groult, Domaine L. Dupont
Cognac Paul Masson VSOP (brandy), Foret VSOP (French brandy) Pedro Domecq Fundador Solera Reserva (Spanish brandy), Camus VS, Landy VS, Marie Duffau Bas (Armagnac) Pierre Ferrand Ambre (10), Landy VSOP Martell XO and Cordon Blue, Germain Robin Craft Method (not cognac)
Gin, London Dry Gordons Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay, Bombay Sapphire (soft), Martin Miller's Hendrick's (cucumber, low juniper)
Gin, other   Plymouth, Bols Genever (gin precursor) Ransom Old Tom (heavy spice)
Irish Whiskey   Clontarf black label Redbreast
Liqueurs Marie Brizzard Apry (apricot), Marie Brizzard Crème de Cacao (chocolate) Benedictine (herbal), Green Chartreuse (herbal), Cointreau (orange), Luxardo Maraschino (funky), Rothman & Winter or Bitter Truth Crème de Violette. Many Giffard liqueurs are excellent, as desired. Leopold Maraschino (cherry, funky)
Mezcal   Del Maguey Vida, Sombra Del Maguey (other), Illegal Mezcal
Ouzo   Sans Rival  
Pisco Barsol   Campo de Encanto
Rum, light Cruzan 2 year (Virgin Islands), Brugal white (Dominican Republic) Appleton white (Jamaica) Wray & Nephew Overproof (Jamaica, 63% ABV)
Rum, amber Ron del Barralito 3 star (Puerto Rico), Curzan Dark (Virgin Islands), Brugal Añejo (Dominican Republic) Appleton V/X (Jamaica), Barbancourt 5 star (Haini), Cruzan Single Barrel (Virgin Islands) Flor de Cana (Nicaragua), 10 Cane (Trinidad, agricole)
Rum, dark El Dorado 5 (English style), Flor de Cana 7 (Spanish style), Gosling's Black Seal (Bermuda, not so dark), Meyers (Jamaica)   Ron Zacapa Centenario (Guatemala, sweet)
Rum, special Cruzan Blackstrap (Virgin Islands, heavy molasses), Old Monk (India, dark, funky) La Favorite Blanc (rhum agricole) Smith & Cross (Jamaica, 57% ABV, complex), Batavia Arrack van Oosten (Indonesia, funky, not true rum, 50% ABV)
Rye Old Overholt Rittenhouse 100, Sazerac 6 year, Bulleit, Redemption, Wild Turkey Whistle Pig, Thomas Handy
Scotch, blended White Horse, William Grant's, Teacher's, Famous Grouse, Ballentine's    
Scotch, Islay   Bowmore Legend Lagavulin 16, Talisker (Isle of Skye)
Scotch, other single malt   Aberlour 10 (Speyside), Glenfarclas 10 (Speyside), Auchentoshan Select (Lowland), Balvenie Doublewood Oban 14 (West Highland), Highland Park 12 (Islands, Orkney)
Syrups Simple (homemade), dark simple (homemade using raw sugar or molasses) B. G. Reynolds Orgeat, Small Hands Orgeat  
Tequila El Jimador, Lunazul, Milagro, El Grito, Puebo Viejo Suaza Hornitos, Cazadores, Partida, Siempre Azul, Siete Leguas El Tesoro, Cinaco, Don Roberto, Ocho
Vermouth & friends   Dolin dry, Dolin blanc, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Punt e Mes (bitter), Bonal Gentiane Quina Carpano Antica
Vodka Smirnoff, Sobieski, Svedka, Pinnacle Tito's, Russian Standard Platinum (We don't recommend high-priced vodkas.)

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