Monday, July 13, 2009

Rant: Cheap Booze

Like most people this summer, I'll attend a number of parties and BBQs. Kudoes and thanks should go to those hosting these gatherings. But one thing does irk me about some of these parties. Cheap booze.

If the hosts want their guests to enjoy themselves, to enjoy the food and drink, then they should be willing to spend a little extra money to at least buy average quality alcohol. Alcohol comes in generally three classes: cheap, average and premium. Cheap booze often is lesser quality, and you can taste the difference. Plus, it often seems more prone to causing hangovers. It certainly won't impress your guests.

Obviously hosts buy the cheap booze to save money, but I don't think the monetary savings make up for the non-monetary costs. And it is not like average quality booze is that much more expensive than the cheap stuff. There are plenty of discount clubs that sell alcohol at a discount so the average stuff is even less expensive. A host doesn't have to buy top shelf booze for his guests. But the host shouldn't buy the cheapest rotgut either.

So, when you host parties, what quality booze do you supply?


Penny said...

We live in a tiny space. When we entertain more than a couple of people, we serve a very good but reasonably priced sparkling wine.

This means we only have to store champagne flutes in quantity. We keep a case of fairly nice ones in our basement storage space.

The only spirits we ever serve are special ones and then only with deserving pals.

MC Slim JB said...

Yes, rotgut booze isn't nice to serve. But fancy labels are no guarantee of quality, either: for instance, I think people who buy super-premium vodkas (like Grey Goose) and heavily-advertised tequilas (like Patron) are chumps who have been duped by marketing and packaging. Any idiot with a Robert Parker guide can buy showy wines; it takes real wine knowledge to serve modest wines that are drinkable. More to the point, being a good host is about making your guests feel well cared for, important, loved. I've been to plenty of miserable parties with top-shelf booze all around, and brilliant ones where the only thing to drink was sangria based on $5/bottle plonk. There's a hell of a lot more to entertaining than the quality of the booze you're serving, however much it costs.

Rob Bralow said...

depends on the size of the gathering. the more people there are, the cheaper the booze gets so that there is enough for everyone.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Penny:
Sounds like your parties are good, and I am glad to see you simply don't stock the cheapest booze available. There are plenty of good value wins out there that won't break the bank.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi MC Slim JB:
I certainly agree that price is not a guarantee of quality. Though I disagree with your generalization that those who buy super premium vodkas and heavily advertised tequilas are necessarily "chumps."

I buy certain premium vodkas, and firmly believe they are generally of higher quality than lesser priced ones. Though I do agree that not all super premium vodkas are worth their price. For example, I dislike Grey Goose but Chopin is one of my favorites.

I do agree with you that there is more to entertaining than just the cost of the booze, though it can be a factor in the overall quality of the party.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Rob:
Larger parties usually have larger budgets so should be able to afford at least average quality booze. The key though may be finding the best quality booze at the necessary price level. And if someone can only afford rot gut, maybe they should consider some other type of beverage.

Rob Bralow said...

That's just it. I actually do not think that larger parties have that much a larger budget. And you also have to take into account what people have a higher tolerance for. Stemming back to college, most people have a tolerance for rather unfortunately untasty beverages. Whereas people have an extremely low tolerance for not being fed. Therefore, most party hosts ensure that there is plenty of food (a sure way to please everyone) and slack on the drink (a sure way to displease you and others that take their drink seriously).