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VODKA – Is the expensive stuff worth it?

Most common question: “What do you sell the most of?” Answer: (easy) VODKA!

Second most common question: “Which is the best vodka?” Answer: Not so easy to answer!

Not only the best selling spirit here at Liquor Cabinet, vodka is the #1 seller in America – outselling rum, tequila, and gin combined.

Vodka is also the cheapest spirit to make – pennies on the dollar compared to bourbon – yet it’s sold at comparable prices. All that extra profit vodka makers are pulling in is spent on fancy bottles and advertising gimmicks.

Vodka is legally defined as flavorless and odorless – so all vodka should be the same, right?

Boy, our customers don’t think so! Vodka drinkers tend to be VERY brand loyal.

“Cheap vodka gives me a hangover.”

“Expensive vodka is smoother (i.e., doesn’t burn).”

“I don’t drink any vodka distilled less than three/five/eight times.”

So, the question remains, “Is expensive vodka better than cheap vodka?”

Depends. Actually, the words “cheap” and “expensive” are not relevant. Cheap vodka does not necessarily give you a headache…BAD vodka gives you a headache! A bad vodka is “bad” because it contains more impurities. Impurities come from inferior ingredients and stills.

While all vodka is produced in stills (majority use column stills a few small producers use pot stills), they tend to distinguish themselves by bragging about how many times they’ve run their product thru the stills. The theory being that the more time a vodka is distilled, the fewer the impurities and the smoother the final product.

In truth, test have shown that after the third time (some experts say the second), additional runs thru the still (column or pot) makes no difference – other than running up the price!

It is TRUE that chilling vodka (always store vodka in freezer) does ease the burn and dull the taste – thus making a bad vodka “taste” better.

Most experts agree that the “better” vodkas are made with potatoes which makes for a unique, creamy texture that you simply can’t get from grain-based vodka.

Different vodkas do taste different – subtle differences but different. Better vodkas are made with better equipment and better ingredients.

Vodka is meant to taste like whatever you mix it with. Therefore, it’s logical to conclude that t it’s a waste to mix expensive vodka with a fruity juice – but many of our customers will disagree!

If you drink your vodka straight, go for something at least “triple-distilled.” Other than that, let your taste buds (and not your wallet) be your guide.

FINAL ANSWER: There are some very fine vodkas available for very little money.

We are always happy to make a recommendation…if you ask…just don’t get mad at us!

Liquor Cabinet – Bay St. Louis

Liquor, Wine, and Wedding Receptions

You can save a lot of money by purchasing the alcohol for your own wedding. However, there are many factors to consider. Is it even allowed? How much? What kind? Open bar? Cash bar? Beer? Champagne?

Without proper planning, this money-saver could turn into a major hassle on a day that needs to be perfect. We’re here to help!

First thing first: Call Liquor Cabinet (228-467-8360) to set up a consultation at no charge and without obligation. While we have pulled-off some last minute miracles, we can offer you better options and greater savings if you contact us at least 2 weeks before your wedding day. Our step-by-step process will guide you through all of the logistics behind planning your big day.

Things to Consider

Venue – Make sure your venue allows you to bring in your own alcohol.

Time of day and day of week – The time and day of the week of your wedding will influence the amount of alcohol people consume. For example, you’ll need more alcohol for a Friday night wedding verses a Sunday afternoon wedding. You’ll go thru much more chilled white wine for a warm summer day wedding and may not need a red wine at all.

Guest Preferences – You probably have a good idea as to whether or not your friends and family will drink more wine, hard liquor, or beer.

Environment your hoping for – Are you planning for a formal affair or a big party?

Budget – Of course, cost is one of the biggest factors in your decision-making process. Not to worry! We’ve got good options for every budget.

Types of Bars

Open Bar – is when you prepay for your guest to enjoy unlimited drinks for a set duration. This is the most expensive but may be the best option for a worry-free wedding day.

Cash Bar – is where you have a full bar but instead of you paying for the drinks, the guest pay for the drinks as they consume them. Great idea for fundraiser or charity event. Very bad idea for a wedding. It’s like inviting friends for dinner and charging for the meal!

Limited Bar – is when you pay for all the alcohol, but limit the selection (thus controlling the cost). Perhaps you serve only beer and wine. Or, you serve some alcohol but not every alcohol. You shouldn’t fret about catering to everyone’s preferences. After all, this is your day and what you serve should reflect your personality. Another option would be having champagne for toasts, beer and wine for dinner and a signature cocktail (or two).

The Signature Cocktail – having a signature or themed cocktail is very popular in modern weddings. Not only is it a great way for you to set the vibe on your wedding day, it’s a great way to control the amount (quantity and types) of alcohol purchased. You’ll save by buying in bulk. We’ve got some great ideas!

The Bartender – if your planning on more than 10 guest, hire a professional bartender. Uncle Ernie behind the bar is a bad idea. Trust us! A professional bartender stays sober and can actually save you money by properly managing inventory. You may be tempted to cut cost here but it would be a mistake – not to mention a potential/probable total cluster! We can recommend a good bartender. You’ll thank us later!

How Much Alcohol to Buy?

This is where we can really help. We should discuss all of the options during the consultation but here are some general tips and guides.

What type of bar did you decide on? Are you serving beer and wine only with a champagne toast? Will you offer a signature cocktail and if so, what will it be? Will you limit the number of spirit options and if so, what types and what brands will you offer? Even with the most lavish budget, it’s a good idea to only have one option for each type of alcohol served. For example, one light beer, one regular beer, one vodka, one bourbon, one white wine, one red wine, etc. When folks are drinking on-the-house, they tend to choose the more expensive option anyway. You’re typically better-off buying just one good vodka in bulk rather than one vodka for martinis along with a well-brand for mixing.

Quantity – depends on the number of guest, how much you will be serving and how long you will be serving – but it’s still just an estimation. Needless to say, it’s better to have too much than too little.

Champagne toast – one bottle for every 8 guest. You don’t fill toast glasses. Instruct servers to fill glasses 1/3 of the way. One hundred guest = 13 bottles of champagne.

The standard rule of thumb for the amount of beer, wine and liquor to purchase is to assume that every guest will consume two drinks during the cocktail hour and one drink per hour after that, however, only you know if the “standard” applies to your friends/family.

Wine – the average glass is 5 oz

750 ml standard wine bottle = 25.4 oz, or five glasses

1.5 liter wine “magnum” bottle = 50.8 oz, or ten glasses

3 liter wine bottle or box = 101.6 oz, or 20 glasses

5 liter wine box = 169 oz, or 34 glasses

Liquor – the average shot is 1 and ½ oz

750 ml standard bottle (fifth) = 25.4 oz, or 16 shots

1 liter = 33.8 oz, or 22 shots

1.75 liter/Half Gallon (Handle) = 59.2 oz, or 39 shots

Extras – If you serve liquor, you’ll need to consider garnishes. You can get very fancy here but it all depends on what your serving. Lime, lemon and olives are basics.

For each 750 ml of liquor, you’ll need 3 (1 liter or 24 oz) of mixer.

Common mixers include soda, tonic, cranberry, cola, sprite, ginger ale.

Ice – estimate 1 pound of ice per guest or 1½ per guest if also chilling bottles.

Sound complicated? We can help you thru it! Call or come by Liquor Cabinet – Bay St. Louis

Pairing Wine with Food

Pairing wine with food can be easy, so long as you don’t overthink it. Which is very easy to do. Countless articles and so-called wine professionals all trying to tell us what wine we should or should not be drinking with this food or that. If you do a simple google search to see what wine to pair with steak and you’ll get 863,000 results!

At Liquor Cabinet, we employ a fairly basic approach which will rarely steer you wrong. It distills down to a handful of “rules” that you should keep in mind while selecting a wine.

Rule #1: Drink red wine with meat, white wine with fish and poultry.

Rule #2: Disregard rule #1 and eat and drink what you like! Seriously – pairing “rules” are simply somebody else’s OPINION…it’s not law. You should always go with your personal preference. If you like it…drink it!

Rule #3: Serving company and want to impress? Call us at Liquor Cabinet. We will help you choose the right wine and stay within your budget. We can even have it already chilled for you.

Of course, there are some classic matches and tips that satisfy again and again and bring out the best in both wine and food. Wine can enhance the flavors of your food tantalizing your taste buds in ways you never knew possible and vice versa.

Here are some basic tips:

* Focus on your main course. Are your serving steak? Red Fish? A pasta with a spicy red sauce? Pair to this. Don’t worry about the side dishes unless they are extreme (very spicy, lots of lemon, etc.) you’ll only drive yourself insane.

* Stockpile versatile wines for last-minute pairing emergencies. A versatile wine, i.e. one that works with a wide range of foods, includes a lightly oaked Chardonnay for whites: Pinot Noir for reds.

* Always keep a bottle of Champagne chilled (no, it does not have to be an expensive bottle). Champagne goes with almost everything and everybody loves it!

Classic Pairings:

APPETIZERS & STARTERS
ANTIPASTO – Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Malbec
CAVIAR – Chenin Blanc, Champagne
COLD MEATS – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay
NUTS/OLIVES – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
RAW OYSTERS – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Champagne
PASTA SALAD – Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc
PASTA WITH CREAM SAUCE – Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc
PASTA WITH SHELL FISH – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay
PASTA WITH TOMATO SAUCE – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz
PASTA WITH VEGIES – Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Malbec

SEAFOOD
CRAB – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio
LOBSTER – Chardonnay, Chardonnay/Sauvignon blend, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc
RED SNAPPER – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio
SALMON – Pinot Noir, Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio
SUSHI – Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio
SHRIMP – Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio
STRIPED BASS – Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc
SWORDFISH – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio
TUNA – Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay
OTHER WHITE FISH – Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc

MEAT & POULTRY
BARBEQUE – Zinfandel
CHICKEN – Chardonnay, Merlot, Chenin Blanc
CHICKEN SALAD – Chenin Blanc, Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio
DUCK – Pinot Noir, Merlot, Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec
HAM – Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec, Rose
HAMBURGER – Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec
LAMB (grilled/broiled) – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
PHEASANT – Shiraz, Malbec
QUAIL – Merlot
RABBIT – Merlot, Shiraz, Malbec
SAUSAGE – Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec
STEAK (grilled/broiled) – Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot, Shiraz, Malbec
TURKEY – Merlot, Chardonnay, Rose
VEAL – Chardonnay, Merlot
VENISON – Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec
PIZZA – Depends on the topping but you can’t go wrong with a Lambrusco
SPICY MEXICAN – Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Malbec
THAI – Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio

Again, just suggestions. Cheers!

Hancock County, MS – “Moonshine Capital of the World”

In the early 1900’s, bootleggers worked the woods around Hancock County.  Specifically, Kiln, MS now an unincorporated community located approximately 15 miles off the beach of Bay St. Louis and approximately 50 miles northeast of New Orleans, was a hot spot for illegal whiskey stills and bootleg liquor coming into the U.S. during prohibition.
 
Kiln takes its name from the many kilns once found in the area.  These kilns served the timber industry; they produced naval stores such as tar, which were shipped by schooner to New Orleans to be used for caulking ships.
 
The sawmill era began around the time of the American Civil War, when a sawmill was built on the Jordon River by Samuel L. Favre from Mobile, AL – ancestor to Kiln native and Southern Miss/Green Bay Paker Hall-of-Fame QB Brett Favre.
 
The Great Depression hit the Kiln hard combined with the depletion of lumber in the area.  The Kiln lost its hotel, hospital, and railroad.  The residents who stayed in the area found they could eek out a living by distilling illegal whiskey.  The production of whiskey became big business in the Kiln after Mississippi passed a state-wide prohibition act in 1908.  Being an existing source and also because of its high quality, Kiln moonshiners could sell all they could make to New Orleans and eventually further points north and east.  At the height of moonshine popularity in the 1920’s, there were at least 50 moonshine stills operating in central and north Hancock County.
 
When New Orleans and Chicago gangsters came to Kiln to purchase moonshine, they discovered other benefits to doing business in Hancock County – nearby direct railroad lines to Chicago and the Jordon River.  Imported foreign liquor was smuggled from ships anchored beyond the ten-mile U.S. territorial limit.  Al Capone purchased a fleet of “rum runners” to pickup the awaiting liquor and then dash into the Bay of St. Louis and up the Jordon River.
 
Hancock County became known as the top producer of moonshine whiskey in the U.S. and the top importer of smuggled foreign liquor on the U.S. Gulf Coast – a reputation some say still warranted today!

Cork vrs Screw Top

If you’re a wine drinker, you can not have escaped notice that more and more wine is sold with screw tops – and not just the cheapo stuff!
 
Screw tops for wine bottles have been around since the 50’s, but they were always associated with the “value brands” or jug wines.
 
That all changed in the 90’s with the explosion of new wines and wine producing regions.  Specifically, newbee winemakers in New Zealand and Australia simply could not get enough quality cork.   Skip forward a decade and we have some very good wine sold with screw tops.
 
For wines that are meant to be consumed young like most whites or rose, screw tops are perfect because these wines don’t need to breathe.  The screw top does not allow any oxygen to enter the bottle – ensuring that the wine remains crisp and well preserved.
 
On the other hand, chardonnay and reds (wines that need a little age to come together) actually benefit from the little oxygen that the cork naturally allows to seep into the bottle.  The air oxidizes the tannins so they’re softer and more drinkable – making cork the better choice here (although we’ve heard talk of a breathable screw top in the works).
 
In short, there is absolutely nothing wrong or cheap about screw top wine.
 
However, we still see a lot of resistance to screw tops.  These days, preference probably has more to do with the ritual or ceremony of uncorking than it does with the actual quality of the wine.  Whatever your preference, there’s a wine for you!  Liquor Cabinet – Bay St. Louis
 

Bourbon and Whiskey?

I can’t tell you how many times a customer has asked, “What’s the difference between Bourbon and Whiskey?”
 
Adding to the confusion, you’ve got Irish whiskey, Scotch whisky, Canadian whisky, and even Tennessee whiskey.
 
They are all good but all different.
 
It’s very confusing and can be a little intimidating!  But not to worry!  We’ve got a cheat-sheet to help you navigate the world of brown liquors like a pro!
 
Still got questions?  Come see us.  Liquor Cabinet – Bay St. Louis

Whiskey vs Whisky

Why the different spellings?  Are WHISKEY and WHISKY just two different spellings of the same word, or are they two slightly different words describing two separate groups of spirits?
Irish distillers always spell it with an “e”.
The Scots always spell it without the “e”.
Canadians spell it “whisky”, and Americans spell it “whiskey”.
Countries without E’s in their names (Canada, Scotland, and Japan) spell it whisky (plural whiskies)
Countries that have E’s in their names (UnitEd StatEs and IrEland) tend to spell it whiskey (plural whiskeys).
That is, except when they don’t.  The American distiller Brown-Forman spells it “whiskey” on their Woodford Reserve bottle, but “whisky” on both Old Forester and Early Times.  Their Tennessee product, Jack Daniel’s is whiskey.  The only other existing Tennessee whiskey, George Dickel is whisky.  So is Maker’s Mark.
So, there is no official “correct” spelling, despite the heated debate taking place in bars, taverns, and pubs on both sides of the Atlantic – and in Japan – and Australia – and everywhere!
The word “whiskey” is an English corruption from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic, “uisge beatha” or “usquebaugh”, meaning “water of life” – and we can all agree that’s a very accurate description of whisk(e)y!