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Thread: well drinks

  1. #1
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    well drinks

    I read in one of the threads reports about bars in Ohio using diluted bourbon and bars elsewhere using Beam White Label.

    Since I (we) do enjoy getting out and going into bars and since I've come to know a lot of bar owners let me add a word of caution for those of you who do not go to bars that often.

    When ordering a spirit (not beer, not wine) always ask what the well bourbon (or vodka for martini, etc.) is. I am also never embarrassed to ask the price of the well pour and the price of a call brand. Too often I find Ten High, Old Crow, or worse in the well. I'd almost guarantee you would have never heard of the label of the gin, tequila, or vodka in the well in average bars!

    Frankly, if a well drink is $2.50 and call drink is $5.00, but the well is "old rot gut" I'll either call or I'll drink a beer.

    I am absolutely amazed if I go with someone, especially someone that I know has plenty of money, that they will go into a bar and order a spirit as "gin and tonic" or martini without asking. You'll get real cr*p in many places and pay a good price.

    I'd rather pay top dollar for a good drink -- or since I'm a beer drinker I'm happy with my beer.

    Sorry if this is obvious to most of you -- but I sure wouldn't assume you'll find White Label in a well. OF about ten bars in three cities where I know what's in the well, White label is in ONE of those ten -- and the rest have much worse.


  2. #2
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    Re: well drinks

    I have been asking a lot recently, and here is what I have come up as wells:
    Old Crow was most often heard
    Evan Williams 7 Year
    Ten High
    Ancient Age 80
    Heaven Hill

    & on the bright side both the local Moose and VFW use old Grandad 86 in their wells (@ $2.00 a shot) and the Elks uses Old Forester 86 (yum!).

    I live in Ohio (land of Old Dan Diluted), where they think Jim White is middle shelf (one bartender said, "Why waste that stuff on your well, its too good!"), and Wild Turkey 80 proof commands $5.50 a shot as the absolute top shelf in most bars.


    Tom ( 600!!!!!!!! ) C

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    Re: well drinks

    Hopefully you got in enough windshield time in the promised land to know there's a better way!

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: well drinks

    I was with you until the "gin and tonic" part.

    While one should indeed be extremely careful about ordering well whiskey, I defy all but the most accomplished tasters to tell the difference between a well G&T and one made with Beefeaters or some other "call" brand.

    This is even more true if the spirit in the mixed drink is vodka. In ordering a bloody mary, for example, I would be much more concerned about the brand of tomato juice than the brand of vodka. There is no such thing as "good" or "bad" vodka. By law, all American-made vodka is exactly the same -- grain neutral spirits -- and is all produced by one or two companies.

    Sure, lots of companies "make" vodka, by which is meant they bottle it and give it a brand name, but the actual distillation is done by the same distillers who make industrial alcohol. It is "pure" alcohol, diluted with water to the desired proof. Many (though not all) imported vodkas are distilled at lower proofs and, therefore, actually have some individual character and taste.

    American-made gin is simply vodka (i.e., GNS) with some juniper berry flavoring added. While the flavoring is typically mixed in by the bottler, there is still very little difference among the various brands. In a traditional 3:1 or 4:1 martini, for example, the choice of vermouth is more important than the choice of gin.

    Ditto with white rum and white tequila.

    For the most part, once you have put any sweet mixer into a drink, the quality of the underlying spirit becomes largely irrelevant. I would even include whiskey in that statement.

    While I completely agree that one should spend the extra money on call whiskey, or have a beer instead, I don't agree when it comes to mixed drinks using white spirits.

  5. #5
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    Re: well drinks

    Chuck,

    it is likely that since I drink straight quality 100% agave Mexican tequila, imported vodka on occaision in a bloody mary, and British gin on rare occaission that I would "call" a brand. Certainly I agree that I'd care less about a bloody mary made with any vodka than I would about bourbon on the rocks. Just as we've done blind taste tests in our households using whiskies we've also done them with other spirits. But to your point we've never chosen any of those American brands where it is the marketing and not the spirits that makes the difference. We feel we can detect a taste difference when blind testing these products. Recently Ken Weber challenged us to blind taste test Rain Vodka and that will be interesting.

    Nevertheless, my focus in this forum is bourbon. It is likely a good waste of bourbon to drink a premium or super-premium bourbon and Coke. So there is room for well whiskies. But if I was tempted to drink bourbon and Coke again I'd hate to put "Five Star whiskey" or whatever I've seen on occaision into it.

    And my adice is, never try to talk Jo out of her "call" martini. She sure as hell seems to taste a difference.


  6. #6
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    Re: well drinks

    >So there is room for well whiskies. But if I was tempted to drink bourbon and
    >Coke again I'd hate to put "Five Star whiskey" or whatever I've seen on occaision
    >into it.

    I'm going to test this with a blind tasting sometime this week:
    two glasses of Ten High + Coke
    two glasses of Woodford Reserve + Coke

    I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to identify them correctly, but
    perhaps I'm overconfident. My feeling (before the test) is
    that there are things I don't like in Ten High, and that Coke
    can't mask those things. Now I have to remember to buy Coke...

    Tim

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: well drinks

    Also be sure to mix in bar proportions, i.e., glass full of ice, 1.25 oz. of whiskey, fill with Coke. At home, some people use the Coke more like a garnish than a mixer.

 

 

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