It's obviously not just the bush buddy that makes a perfect companion to the tiny little alcohol stoves.
Alcohol makes a great companion to pretty much any wood stove.
However, what most people may have overlooked is alcohol makes a superb companion to ISO butane for summer travel. Perhaps a better companion then a wood stove. More on this in a minute.
== why alcohol is an "always carry" ==
Because the latest alcohol stoves like the side jetted alcohol stoves and super cat stove are so light (.5oz and .25 ounce respectively) and simple they are the sort of thing you can and should throw in your bag as a backup.
You don't even need a pot stand or special windscreen.
Indeed why even carry a windscreen? Usually the windscreen for whatever other stove you carry will work, a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil you're probably already carrying for other reasons, or you can improvise a windscreen out of bark, rocks, sleeping pad... whatever. Hence... ONLY the stove and a little fuel need be carried. (And sometimes not even the fuel, more on this later.)
You can also get fuel for alcohol practically anywhere. Especially in the northern climates where you can not only get denatured alcohol at a hardware store (or in a pinch rubbing alcohol at a grocery store), but also HEET gas line anti-freeze at practically every gas station.
*I did an informal pole hear in Michigan and Ohio over the last 3-4 months and found Heet in every single gas station I stopped in except two. I lost count at 40 gas stations. Of course you can also buy HEET at every automotive store without fail, some hardware stores, and even a lot of grocery stores as well.
As has been said knowledge and skill weigh nothing. The best skill you can develop for alcohol stoves is to study up on alternative fuel sources for alcohol and where you can find them. Experience is a key to skill, so play your own little game and even if you're not using alcohol do your own informal pole every time you go in someplace and note sources of alcohol stove fuel. Every area is different but I'm willing to bet on my experience no matter where you are there are always sources.
On that note there's one reason I can think of why NOT to carry an alcohol stove and that is you're very experienced at building one and can build a good one out of practically anything in a few minutes with only a knife. I.E. a pop can, a cat food can or any small metal container.
== Alcohol and wood ==
Right now (for the winter) I'm carrying an alcohol stove and my wood gas stove (a 5.5oz home made one). It's a great combination because among other things.
1) I can use the alcohol stove to lite / prime the wood gas stove. Works especially well when everything is wet because .25 oz of fuel will burn for 5 minutes or so.
2) I can use the alcohol stove when I can't or don't want to use the wood gas... i.e. when I'm in a hurry or wood fires or disallowed or when in a small enclosed space like a tent, tarp, shelter.
Meanwhile the wood stove means virtually unlimited fuel so I can burn it not just for cooking but for warmth and the general pleasure of having a campfire.
Unlike a campfire it leaves no trace, is relatively smokeless and uses so little fuel I can burn it all night (8+ hours) on an small arm load of wood (not that I ever burn that much).
The key I found with my wood stove is making it big enough it can not only burn tiny scraps of wood cleanly for cooking (smokeless) but also 9inch to foot long branches un-split for long sustained burns. Video: http://vimeo.com/8418187
== Alcohol and iso-butane ==
What I'm most looking forward to is taking my alcohol stove and an ISO butane stove on trips this summer.
Why does this makes a perfect combination?
ISO-butane is far and away the hottest and most fuel efficient stove type on the market.
The stoves themselves are extremely compact and light (though not as compact and light as the latest alcohol stoves).
The fuel cartridges are also extremely light and compact.
To be specific ISO butane gives more energy for cubic inch of space and every ounce then any other fuel source. Even when you take into account the packaging / canister weight itself.
However ISO-butane does have some Achilles heals.
One disadvantage is their poor performance in cold weather. This can be negated somewhat by warming the cartridge in your clothing and insulating it from the cold ground when using it. Some ISO stoves like the jet boil can even be held or hung. (I love that Tinny at Minibull Designs seems to going in this direction with alcohol even if he doesn't yet reaize it himself. ;)
ISO butane stoves biggest Achilles heal is the poor availability of butane cartridges when on the road/trail. This combined with the problems gauging how much fuel is left means you either need to really overestimate your fuel since when you're out you may just be S.O.L.
Enter the alcohol stove.
1) You don't even need to carry anything more then the stove as you know you can pick up alcohol along the way when the ISO butane runs out.** Hence all you need carry is your .5 or .25 oz alcohol stove. Again, no windscreen, no pot stand carrying necessary.
2) When/if you do run out of ISO butane fuel you don't have to carry the spent ISO butane cartridge, not that it weighs much empty anyway, but it is less bulk and clutter. (Please, just make sure you properly dispose of the cartridge in nearest trash can and not in the woods or campfire.)
All in all this combination is far lighter, more compact, and more versatile then the wood stove combination. Many would also point out that it's soot free.
**strategies for picking up alcohol fuel in this scenario**
As mentioned above you don't need to carry any alcohol fuel (just the .25 or .5oz alcohol stove) until you run out of ISO or near run out of ISO. The question is choosing your moment when to pick up some alcohol fuel.
For me this is simple because I bike tour mostly and because alcohol fuel is widely available where I commonly tour. I can just wait until I run completely out of ISO-butane and then at most I go one night without hot food or light a fire. (In fact I never had to go without hot food.)
However others may be more reliant on fire (i.e. for water purification) and alcohol fuel sources may not be quite as readily available (i.e. a remote area). Then it's best to pick your moment and perhaps carry a bit of alcohol sooner.
You could just rely on regular old fire for a couple days until you can pick up alcohol.
You could carry just 3-4 ounces of alcohol or whatever you might need before you could refuel.
You could make sure you always have some food that doesn't need cooking.
You could (and probably should) carry alternative water purification means (i.e. iodine tablets, MSR miox, steripen, etc., etc.)
You could simply identify when you're running low on ISO and plan a head and then be an opportunist and only pick up alcohol a day or two in advance.
Even if you're using fuel / food drops (i.e. on a thru-hike) there's still little reason not to carry a .25 - .5 oz alcohol stove. That is unless (as mentioned above) you take into consideration you can improvise a fairly good one in minutes with anything from a pop can, a can of cat food, or any small metal container. :)
Anyway, there are many, many strategies.
That said, there are of course some instances where alcohol stove might not come in handy... i.e. a month long trek in the Alaskan brooks range where you might not see any people or roads at all let alone a sorce for alcohol. On the other hand... maybe fish oil will burn in a super cat stove. (Inuit Kudlik anyone? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kudlik)
The bottom line is ISO butane with a back up of alcohol is pretty much the most efficient / flexible / lightest and and cleanest option around.
What's more you've always got plan C. A campfire. A very good option in an emergency (i.e. you fall in freezing water or need a signal fire), and I just love how quickly ISO or alcohol will start wet wood if you need a large fire and need it now. Cotton balls or tampons with wax/petroleum products work wonders too just a little slower. A personal favorite is cotton balls and bag balm since I already carry both.
Alternatively with wood you're obviously lugging a relatively bulky and heavy (5+ ounce) stove, even when you're not using it. There's soot. And even if you're not carrying fuel for the wood stove you still always need to have a bit of alcohol on you at all times in the various instances you can't use a wood stove.
== multi-fuel stove + alcohol? ==
This is only a mention.
A multi-fuel stove like the MSR dragonfly, whisperlight, Optimus stoves or other various stoves don't make much sense to carry with an alcohol stove.
For one thing the fuel sources for these (kerosene, whitegas, unleaded or diesel gas) are much more available then alcohol.
The fuel is darn near as hot and efficient as ISO butane.
They are in a sense a go everywhere / do everything stove, but they are usually comparatively bulky and heavy because you need to take into account not only the added weight of the stove, but also the fuel pump and pressurized fuel bottle.
Then there is priming, the complexity, the reliability and the durability issues... i.e. clogged fuel pump/filter or fuel ports. Do you really want to deal with these when you're life is on the line? By comparison ISO and alcohol are so simple and reliable.
In the end it's lighter, more versatile, simpler, more reliable to carry two of some other type of stove then to carry one mutli-fuel stove.
That said, to each his own.
And in conclusion... I write to much. :)