Restocking your holiday spirits: A guide to seasonal booze buying

In addition to clothes and toys, presents and family togetherness, the holidays are about entertaining. However, with finances stretched tight and the economic future looking dark, this might not be the best time to blow a chunk of cash on premium booze. Luckily, while their more expensive siblings have claimed the spotlight, there are a wide variety of reasonably-priced, flavorful liquor brands that will spike your eggnog without puncturing your wallet!

Vodka: While premium vodkas often claim to have "a good nose," "hints of caramel," or other flavor components, the simple fact is that the quality of vodka is usually measured by its lack of flavor. With that in mind, it might be worthwhile to reconsider the joys of Smirnoff. Not only does it get great street cred from its relationship to James Bond (Smirnoff was his favorite tipple), but the $14 price tag puts it well below the price of lesser brands (including the utterly foul Absolut).

If you're in the mood for something a little more upscale, you might try Svedka, a smooth Swedish vodka that is also relatively inexpensive. Alternately, my favorite top notch vodka with a great (lack of) taste is Luksusowa. It's a lesser-known Polish potato-based spirit that most liquor stores carry for somewhere between $10 and $15 a fifth. For that modest outlay, you get a delicious tipple that, as far as I'm concerned, gives Chopin and Belvedere a run for their money. It tastes particularly good right out of the freezer.