Highlights: The cucumber-and-rose specialty gin Hendricks came in for over 40 mentions in this thread! Its faux-apothecary bottle and somewhat unusual taste have won it a serious following. Other stand-outs: Plymouth (one of my own personal favorites), Bluecoat (another gin I love) and the budget-friendly New Amsterdam.
There were nearly fisticuffs, though, over Tanqueray vs. Bombay Sapphire. Tiamat_the_Red started it: "I like Tanqueray but will happily drink any gin that isn't Bombay Sapphire. I loathe Sapphire. It is NOT gin. Sapphire's just way, way, WAY too sweet and doesn't taste like gin."
Then, "Bombay Sapphire...really anything but Tanqueray. If someone gives me a drink with Tanqueray I know instantly. It tastes so sweet. It's awful," countered Tazer.
Gin — it's a polarizing liquor!
Highlights: The rum discussion really pointed up the diversity of rums available. There was no huge standout the way there was in the gin category, although Sailor Jerry and Goslings got a fair share of mentions.
Rum is also a liquor that people use for baking perhaps more than others; Myer's Dark Rum came in for a mention for that purpose.
Highlights: Whiskey is obviously a broad category (Scotch? Irish? Bourbon?) and our readers' answered ranged wide. Jameson came up over a dozen times, though, and Maker's Mark for classic bourbon. Harley Mike says, "Makers Mark makes an old-fashioned anything but."
There was also a clear divide between the readers who loved their Scotch (Laphroaig was a common refrain there) and those who find the stuff just too peaty.
Highlights: Ah vodka, the colorless, odorless, nearly tasteless spirit of Cosmos and summer punch. A good vodka is smooth and nearly tasteless, and in this thread, Belvedere came up quite a few times, as did Ketel One. Some readers went out of their way to recommend local, small-batch vodkas.
Highlights: Now, after you've stocked your primary liquor cabinet, what are your favorite non-essential liquors and special sippers? Our readers had all sorts of suggestions, including Campari, St. Germain, and — of course — homemade liqueurs.
Your turn to weigh in! Is there a major category of liquor we should hit next? Any other liquor brands in these categories you really love and want to recommend?
More Budget Liquor Recommendations: Best Bargain Booze: 7 Top Picks From Bar Experts
(Images: Liquor producers; Nora Maynard)