30 best bottles under $40

By: crunchgodabruinknees

RCL Exclusive 


The 30 Best Bottles of Booze Under $30

Price isn't always an indicator of quality.


Some days we dream about nine-figure superyachts and space vacations.

And some days, we just need an affordable bottle of booze.

For those modest occasions: our guide to great spirits $30 and under, as chosen by the finest bar professionals across the land.

Why 30 bucks? Maybe you’re going to a party. Or you’re out of a staple spirit in your home bar. Or you have to gift someone you don’t know that well. These are classic tipples that will impress on a budget for any of those occasions.

The criteria here: full-sized bottles (750mL, 1L) only. The spirit should also be readily available in most markets, recognizable to seasoned drinkers and elicit approval from casual and veteran sippers. And it should mix well in cocktails or work fine on its own.

We’re starting with the basics: gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, etc. A guide to inexpensive but more exotic spirits will follow soon. (P.S. Yes, depending on where you live, you may pay a bit over $30. Or even under the price we list.)


Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star 8 Year | $23
“Distilled and aged in Haiti, this is a versatile spirit, serving equally well in a daiquiri or an Old Fashioned. Clean and rich with just a hint of grass and funk (or “hogo”); it’s more approachable than the really funky Jamaican rums, and more full of character than those from Barbados and Puerto Rico — you can really taste the terroir and it makes me happy to provide an important income stream to the people of Haiti, who have been through so much. —Don Morton, founder of Shrub District

Zaya Gran Reserva Trinidad Dark Rum (750ml) | $24
“This vanilla bomb of a rum can add a layer of complexity into an otherwise fruit-forward or sour drink.” —D’Artagnan Totora, Beverages Director at Park Winters(Winters, CA)

Bacardi Carta Blanca | $19
“Light, aromatic and ideal for mixing — think mojitos, Cuba Libres, etc.” —Carlos Arteaga, Beverage Director/GM of Halifax (Hoboken, NJ)

Denizen Aged White Rum | $19
“Three aged rums blended together, and perfect for the quintessential daiquiri.” — Cassie Hesse, Beverage Director of Ellis Adams Group

Plantation Three Star Rum | $17
“This is such a great bang-for-the-buck-rum. Blended rum from Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados. Notes of coconut, sarsaparilla, vanilla and clove.” —Luke Andrews, mixologist and founder of BoomBox Consulting (Chicago)

Plantation Pineapple Rum | $28
“This rum is made by macerating fresh pineapples. When you drink it straight, the pineapple sits back, but when you shake it with a bit of citrus, the flavor really comes alive.” —Aaron Blakely, bartender at Yves (New York)

Casa Magdalena Rum | $25
“A Spanish style rum from Guatemala, aged in Portland, Oregon, at the House Spirits distillery. Its earthy, complex flavor, filled with grass and tropical notes, is perfect for cocktails and makes the most delicious daiquiri.” —Shel Bourdon, National Director of Bars at Two Roads Hospitality

El Dorado 8 Year | $25
“Affordable and extremely quaffable. Rich and tasty alone or in a cocktail. Dollar for bottle, I can’t think of a better rum for having around at home.”  —Kirk Estopinal, partner/mixologist at Cane & Table (New Orleans)

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