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I grew up watching my parents and grandparents (on my mom

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Depends on what you want out of a cocktail. There are TONS of bar guides out there. I'm impressed with jazz musician/historian Eric Felton's column in Saturday's Weekend Journal in WSJ. Email him for the best guides.

That being said, again, what do you want in a cocktail? In your parents' generation, Gin was in and Vodka exotic. It is now reversed (I prefer Gin). You should stock according to your taste for "good stuff". To broadly entertain, you need vodka, rum, whiskeys (bourbon, scotch, possibly Canadian[makes a better mixer for manhattans, collins, and highballs]), maybe gin, kahlua (I prefer the more coffee-like tia maria, but it is almost twice the price; I have neither) creme de cocoa, creme de menthe, peach schnappes and mint schnappes. Taste, particularly of your friends will dictate how extensive this second list might be. Most all whiskeys should be cut with a little water or at least served on ice.

As to your taste. You may not have experimented with spirits. OK, start with stuff around $13-$15 a pop to see what you like. This is considered the low end of "premium". Hints for more dash than cash: all Puerto Rican rum is regulated and made exactly the same. Castillo is just as good as Bacardi and cheaper than Ron Rico. New Amsterdam is a REAL classey gin for between $10 and $15 depending on liquor taxes. Cheap vodka filtered through a Britta water filter about four times will fool most vodka fans. Really. Though the cheapest is cut with water and will freeze. I've just filtered Burnett's and it is good in a high end sort of way.

Don't get fooled by modern marketting of bourbon and scotch. Teacher's scotch does incredibly well in taste tests for under $20 scotch (better than Red Label by far). It is hard to find, but Indian immigrants seem to be drawn to it. Liquor stores near Indian neighborhoods WILL stock it. Of course, that is mid-west advice. East coast might be entirely different and Teacher's might flow like water where you live. You will pay for aging, blended or single malt. Most single malt is 12 years or older, probably because blending is for smootheness and single malts are undrinkable before a certain point.

Jim Beam is a pretty good cheap bourbon, as is Ezra Brooks. I wouldn't bother with anything cheaper than these two. Excellent, I mean excellent low priced 12 year old bourbon is Elijah Craig 12. Most bourbon experts think that largely, you are wasting money and time aging bourbon more than twelve years, though bourbon profits from some serious aging. Read labels.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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