EL DORADO SPECIAL RESERVE 15 YEAR OLD, $59.25/750 ml, LCBO 705418
The rum-drinker's rum, this Guyanese selection is best served straight or on the rocks. Blended and aged in old oak bourbon casks, it's a sipper, complex, flavourful and cognac-like in its profile, a liquid argument against anyone who insists on Coca Cola. But let's not be pushy here.
1921 SINGLE BARREL REPOSADO, $54.95/750 ml, LCBO 682922
A personal favourite of the owner of Reposado Tequila Bar on Ossington (a tequila expert if there ever was one), this is the bottle to stock for those few who don't require a syrupy mix or a salt and lime chase. Creamy, medium-bodied and sweet, it's a excellent sipping tequila. Yes, they do exist.
WOODFORD RESERVE DISTILLER'S SELECT BOURBON, $46.95/750 ml, LCBO 480624
If you have a bit more money in your bar budget, cave and go bourbon. Woodford Reserve has the lowest price of any top-notch sipping bourbon. It's smoky, mellow, smooth and flavourful - just add ice or a little splash of water.
GREY GOOSE VODKA, $49.95/750 ml, LCBO 95935
The standard for smooth, high-end vodka, Grey Goose goes well in any drink: cosmopolitans, screwdrivers and martinis as dry as you want to make them. But its best look is chilled over a little ice. You can't say that about most vodkas.
HENDRICK'S, $45.95/750 ml, LCBO 637504
Hard to believe but not everyone has a taste for citrus. Grab a bottle of Hendrick's and you can swap the lime in a gin and tonic for cucumber. The unusual botanicals recipe - infusions of Bulgarian rose and cucumber, in addition to the usual juniper - offers something different from the standard gins and puts a nice twist on any of those classic cocktails.
ARDMORE TRADITIONAL CASK HIGHLAND SINGLE MALT, $44.95/750 ml, LCBO 228106
For the Scotch snob in your life, provide one quality single malt. "Quality," of course, is a relative term, because you can easily drop $100 on a first-rate bottle. But to avoid breaking our self-imposed bar budget, go for this Ardmore Highland Single Malt. Rich, complex and different, it's a good choice.