Ah, bourbon. You get me through the good times, like social gatherings with good friends and long talks around a roaring fire in the middle of winter. You get me through the bad times, like 5-0 losses to Liverpool and Chelsea winning the Champions League and knocking Spurs out.
The nice thing about bourbon, besides the fact that it's the nectar of the gods, is that compared to many whiskeys world wide, it's relatively inexpensive. Oh sure, you can find phenomenally expensive (and delicious) old bourbons out there – Pappy 23, anyone? – but you certainly don't have to spend a lot of money to get a decent bottle of bourbon. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket, you probably shouldn't.
So after a nervy 1-1 North London Derby that had me reaching for (but not pouring) my bottle of Bulleit, here are the Tottenham Hotspur player rankings to the theme of inexpensive, or "budget," bourbons.
Note: I'm classifying "budget" in this case to be
5 stars: Evan Williams ($15)
How in the world is Evan Williams only $15? I have no idea, because it's as good or better than bourbons that are twice as expensive and come in fancy bottles with fancy labels with fancy-pants names of long-dead Civil War-era bootleggers. It's great just straight in a glass, smooth and balanced, with notes of caramel and vanilla. Sure, you can spend more money on bourbon, but you won't get any more bang for your buck than with a fifth of Evan. And if you can find the 1783 variant, snatch that puppy up because it's even better and at practically the same price point.
Kyle Walker: An outstanding performance from Walker on Sunday. You never know what kind of Kyle Walker you're going to get when he's in, but he was an absolute rock in defense, keeping one of the most dangerous attacking players in Alexis Sanchez in his pocket. Sure he might have missed Gibbs in the build-up to Spurs' goal, but that's not all on him. One of the best matches I've seen him play in years.
Mousa Dembele: Dembele played in two positions in this match: in the hole as a defensively-oriented #10, and in the pivot beside Eric Dier. As a #10, he was instrumental in Spurs getting forward on the counterattack, and when he'd drop deep his strength on the ball and outlet passing were huge reasons why Spurs dominated the midfield for large swaths of this game. I've said it before: at this point, how can you not continue to play this guy? He's fantastic.
4.5 stars: Rebel Yell ($13)
You remember that guy who brought the bottle of Rebel Yell to that party in college and spent the entire time blitzed off his ass swigging straight from the bottle? Well, that guy was an asshole, but he also knew his bourbon. Rebel Yell has the unfair reputation of being the choice for southern cheap-ass drink-drunk drinkers; it was central to one memorable scene in Stephen King's "The Stand," and of course there's that Billy Idol song. But when you get down to it, it's a solid, inexpensive bourbon that many people overlook. In the midnight hour, I cry "more, more more."
Dele Alli: Another composed match from Alli. Started in the pivot but switched with Dembele before too long, which was a smart play. A couple of give-aways, but his forward runs and creativity in the hole were a big reasons why Spurs dominated big parts of this match.
Erik Lamela: Lamela had a match that was simultaneously really, really good, and scary. Great in the fact that he was once again pressing hard, winning the ball back, finding open teammates, playing outstanding defense, and continuing an excellent run of form that has stretched back four matches now. Not great in the fact that for large swatches of the second half he was a walking red card. Erik was probably very lucky he didn't get sent off, and unfortunately he'll miss Spurs' next match against West Ham after accumulating his fifth yellow. Overall, though? That was another fine performance from the Argentine.
Eric Dier: At a certain point you start running out of ways to say "this guy was really good." Well, this guy was really good. Again. And he almost scored early on.
4 stars: Very Old Barton Bottled in Bond ($14)
This bourbon looks like the kind of bottom of the shelf plastic screw-top swill that you pass over to get to the stuff with the purty-shaped glass bottles, but in truth, it's pretty darned good stuff for a cheap bourbon. It's got a spicy rye kick to it, and it's a great mixer and in cocktails like a Manhattan or a Boulevardier. I understand it's hard to find outside the Midwest, but grab it if you see it.
Danny Rose: Spurs were once again going after Matthieu Debuchy by overloading the left side, and Rose seems to excel in those situations. His pass from the halfway line that sprung Harry Kane -- wow.
Harry Kane: Speaking of Harry, Kane's goal was the composed, polished goal of a striker that is comfortable and is no longer trying to force good things to happen. Disappeared midway through the second half when Spurs were put under a lot more pressure defensively, but he's a continual goal threat and a big danger, and you could tell by the way that Arsenal marked him the entire match.
3.5 stars: Old Grand-Dad ($17)
Not kidding, your grandfather probably had a bottle of this in his liquor cabinet that one time he was out raking in the back yard and you found it unlocked. And to carry this story through to its conclusion, your 12-year old self tried some of it, hated it, and you've never looked twice at it again, right? True to the "budget bourbon" archetype, this looks like crap but actually quite a solid little bourbon. This one seems to be a little bit heavier on the rye than some of the others, but still pretty corn-centric. You could do a heck of a lot worse in a bottle of cheap bourbon than Old Grand-Dad.
Toby Alderwireld: Coped very nicely with Arsenal's attacking threat throughout the match. Toby forced a fine save from Petr Cech that on another day might have gone in. My only criticism, and it applies to both Toby and Jan, is that they inexplicably allowed Giroud and others uncontested or minimally contested headers from crosses and set pieces way too often.
Jan Vertonghen: Defensively solid. He and Toby were really fantastic at limiting Arsenal offensive opportunities through the center. But Jan's tussle with Giroud in Spurs' box could've ended up in disaster if Martin Atkinson was actually doing his job. That said, there's a reason why Arsenal only scored one goal and it was on a cross, not through the center of the pitch.
Christian Eriksen: A quieter game than what we're used to seeing from Christian, but he was still dangerous on free kicks and was doing his best to influence the match creatively despite being well marked by Coquelin and Debuchy.
3 stars: Early Times ($10)
Apparently Early Times is not technically a bourbon, since it does not use NEW charred oak barrels in its aging, so instead it's considered a "Kentucky Whiskey." Whatever, it's nomenclature-related hair splitting, which is a thing, I guess. Go back 25 years and Early Times was complete rotgut, better for degreasing purposes than drinking. But the brand got relaunched a while back and the new incarnation is surprisingly drinkable, considering a fifth is only $10. It's also apparently the official Kentucky Derby mint julep whiskey, which I didn't know. This is probably the PBR of the whiskey world: it's whiskey. Not great, but fine as a mixer and it won't make you grimace and shake your head going "BLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLB" when you take a sip.
Hugo Lloris: Had some really nice saves, especially his diving tip of Joel Campbell's shot in the second half, but had a derp in Gibb's goal and had that crazy rush-out that nearly lead to Giroud scoring on a header. He's still waaaay better in goal than Vorm.
Ryan Mason: Mason came in as a mid-second half substitute for Dele Alli and did fine. He tracked runners, looked competent on the ball -- all things you want your substitute central midfielder to do when he comes in. Nothing special, just a good, competent shift.
2 stars: Ezra Brooks ($12)
Apparently this is a cheaper copycat of Jack Daniels, which is saying something considering how mostly inexpensive Jack Daniels is these days. It's also apparently a charcoal filtered bourbon, which is a nice way of saying "it sucks, so we ran it through a Brita to smooth it out." It's a lot sweeter than some of the others on this list, which may be your thing, but it's not mine. I mean, it's not awful, but if you've only got $20 to spend on a bottle of whiskey, you can do much better than this.
Son Heung-Min: Let's get this out of the way fast -- I in no way saying that I think Sonny is a bad player. He's very obviously still rusty after missing so many matches due to injury. And it showed. He looked a little lost out there, was suspect defensively. and wasn't as vigorous in the press as Erik Lamela, whom he replaced. If he recognizes that Ozil is free, he comes out and presses him and maybe Ozil doesn't get that cross in that Gibbs pokes home. It wasn't the best shift from Sonny. It happens. That said, we've seen what Good Sonny looks like already, so I am 0% worried about him. But not a great match today.
1 star: Philadelphia ($10)
I had the distinct displeasure of trying Philadelphia "bourbon" one time a few years back. It tasted pretty much what I would've expected the city of Philadelphia to taste like if its essence were distilled into a bottle. I didn't go blind, which was an unexpected bonus.
No Tottenham players were as poor as Philadelphia bourbon.