After Extensive Testing, I Agree Old Overholt Rye Is the Best Budget Liquor

Budget Booze

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Several years ago, Nora Maynard, our cocktail columnist, made the case for Old Overholt rye, saying it was her best pick for bargain booze. Well, after extensive testing, I would have to agree.

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OK, OK, my testing wasn't terribly scientific (it's not like I've tried every bargain liquor out there — shudder) but I have bought quite a few bottles of this rye by now, and it's become a staple with a lifelong place in our liquor cabinet.

I was on a bourbon kick the last couple of years, and I was ready to try something new. So I turned to rye, that grand old American whiskey, with a nose of spice and a dry, lingering finish that comes across a little wilder than bourbon's Southern gentility and sweet finish.

I don't often sip rye straight; I mix it, and Old Overholt is a terrific companion to the cocktail shaker. My husband has been perfecting his Manhattan technique (quite literally — we've been drinking the variation on the classic known as the Perfect Manhattan, with both white and red vermouths). In our Manhattan adventures, Old Overholt has brought complexity and a spicy finish, with enough body to stand up proudly to quality vermouth like Cocchi Americano.

And the price simply cannot be beat. Compared to good gin at about $35 and my favorite tequila at $40 (let's not even bring up scotch, OK?), Old Overholt is a serious bargain at $17. But unlike cheap vodka, with its nasty burn, or bargain bin tequila, or too-sweet budget rum, Old Overholt has heft and a worthy flavor profile that outstrips its modest price. I love its sense of history, too; this stuff has been around since 1810, was the liquor of choice for Doc Holliday, outlived Prohibition, and still costs less than $20 a bottle. Not bad, not bad at all.

→ Find it online: Old Overholt Rye, $18.99 at DrinkUpNY. (I find it for $17 at my local liquor store.)

Read Nora's original article: Best Bargain Booze: Old Overholt Rye - Lots of good reader suggestions for other bargain booze in the comments!

Do you agree? Or does your heart belong to another budget-friendly spirit? Do share!

(Image credits: Faith Durand)