There are a lot of things that make hydrocarbons good fuels - high energy density, large increase in pressure on combustion, easily controlled combustion, relatively safe to store and transport, not particularly volatile, doesn't absorb water, wide range of combustion conditions, easily vaporized, stay liquid under a wide range of conditions of temperature and pressure, and many many more.
But I think the major thing that makes hydrocarbons effective fuels is that the technology of transportation has evolved with hydrocarbon fuel usage. Early cars, it didn't make a lot of difference what you put in the gas tank, as long as it was liquid and would burn. As the cars were engineered to use fuel more and more efficiently, they became specialized for very specific blends of hydrocarbons. Now with all the regulations on efficiency in both emissions and energy conservation, very small changes in fuels can lead to large losses in energy available.
The two major problems that alcohol fuels have are that they absorb water and that alcohol fueled vehicles are hard to start in cold weather. Almost everything else can be taken care of using current technology. However, to bring alcohol fuels up to the same level of efficiency we get from hydrocarbon fuels will require a new set of engineering improvements based on a consistent supply of standardized fuels, with a distribution network for both vehicles and their fuels, and people willing to buy and use them.