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

Budget Booze

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.

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)