La Belle Vie Lounge shares home liquor advice
Genius drinkmaker, Johnny Michaels, gives us best value picks: cava, rye whiskey, and more...
I'm sitting in the lounge of high-end La Belle Vie, but am getting the best cheap picks from their bartender, Johnny Michaels. (Gotta love the incongruity!) If you have been to the lounge, you know that Michaels creates some of the best cocktails in town. I wanted to find out the secret behind his success, but it's more than one blog post can tell (stay tuned tomorrow!). For now, here are his best value liquor tips for the home consumer. Michaels warns that there is a lot of not great product on the liquor store shelves, but there are also some relatively inexpensive "gems".
Here's his lineup:
- vodka: Svedka
- gin: Gordon's
- whiskey: Jim Bean
- brandy: Christian Brothers
- rum: Brugal
- light rum: Bacardi
- cognac: Seguinot
- rye whiskey: Rittenhouse
Michaels also recommends using cava (Cristalino) instead of champagne if you want to make champagne cocktails. As mentioned before on this blog, cava is the Spanish version of champagne, and much cheaper! While it's not from the Champagne region of France, it does taste similar and will give your drink the bubbles you want.
Of this list, Michaels is most excited by the Brugal and Rittenhouse. Brugal is one of the most popular rums in the Dominican Republic, but only recently began being sold in Minnesota. Rittenhouse is a rye whiskey, which Michaels says is the hot liquor right now. He describes it as a "little bit lighter, leaner, spicier than bourbon." In a mini-history moment, Michaels adds that before prohibition, rye whiskey was the more popular whiskey in the U.S., so its popularity now is an example of retro in the drink world.
So, whadda ya say? With the new year coming up, it might be the perfect time to make a little history of your own (and try a new drink).
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Minneapolis & St. Paul dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.