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October 03, 2017

On National Vodka Day, a definitive ranking of six 'base' liquors

Today is its holiday, but is it the best?

As you may already know – or are about to hear throughout this fine Wednesday – it’s Natonal Vodka Day.

I know, I know, many people out there don’t need a national holiday to swill vodka from dawn till dusk and beyond.

But we’re living in an era when everything needs a national day dedicated to justifying its marketing department’s bona fides. So, here we are.

In any event, while there are many distilled spirits out there, there are essentially six “base liquors” at the heart of most cocktails and liquers.

In addition to vodka, we’re talking about brandy, gin, rum, tequila and whiskey. 

What follows is a definitive ranking of those six from worst to best with some, little or no explanation.

6. Brandy. It’s a fine name. It’s not a fine cocktail base. In fact, I can’t remember a time I’ve seen someone drinking it and said to myself, “Oooh, I want one of those.”

5. Whiskey. Or is it whisky? I don’t know. I don’t care. Yeah, a Jack and Coke is good. But it’s also the type of booze that I’ve seen get people – myself included – ornery. Better than brandy, sure. But worse than the four coming up.

4. Gin. Used to love gin and tonics until I got old and hangover-prone. If you do, that’s fine. Also, I think I drank a gin fizz in New Orleans last time I was there. The reason I said “I think” is because “I don’t remember.” Dang gin got me again.

3. Tequila. Tequila is really good straight up. What works against it is the limited number of drinks one can make with it, I suppose. Tequila would probably be number two on this list if but not for today being vodka's big day.

Also, this song rules...

2. Vodka. Fun fact: I went to my cousin’s wedding last weekend. Since Daisy Cutters aren’t available in Jersey, I turned to vodka tonics as my beverage of choice. They are good. I don't even turn my nose up at all those cutesy flavored vodkas, either. Vodka is also good to drink if you want to avoid hangovers, or go to work hammered since there ain’t much smell to ‘em. (Full disclosure: I’ve never gone to work hammered on vodka and I don’t encourage anyone else to do so. All I’m saying is it’s the booze to drink if you’re trying to hide something, I guess.)  Less fun fact: That whole thing about Moscow Mules potentially poisoning you.

1. Rum. Rum and cokes? Great. Captain Morgan and ginger ale? Greater. Myers Rum and pineapple juice before noon on the beach at the Jersey Shore? Greater-er. Rum Runners? An absolutely transcendent drink that places rum atop the distilled spirits heap.