I’ve been thinking about the term "affordable luxuries" lately—small-scale indulgences like Stumptown lattes, DeLaurenti mozzarella, a salted caramel picked from the glass display case at Fran’s. Trivial stuff, I guess. And fleeting. But when the front page headline of the about-to-go-under local newspaper is “Even Elderly are Facing Eviction,” well, couldn’t we all use a cupcake?

Anyway, I had the whole affordable luxuries concept in mind this weekend while I was flipping through the March issue of Food & Wine (for me, magazine subscriptions are the world’s best affordable luxury) and I noticed that they had the results of a spirits taste test that included gins, vodkas, rums, and whiskies. The coolest thing about it was how price-minded it was: the bottles they picked ranged from $13 (Smirnoff vodka) to $67 (Neisson Reserve Special rhum agricole), but mostly hovered in the $20s. For about 75 bucks, you could go out and buy the “value” bottle listed in each category, and you have the basics of a home bar that should serve your pregame rather nicely. And hey, invite your friends over for a round of cocktails. They’ve had a tough couple of months.

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