Whether you’re a connoisseur of fine wines, a fan of craft beers, or someone who enjoys the occasional cocktail, the cost of alcohol can quickly add up. However, saving money on libations doesn’t mean sacrificing quality or your enjoyment. From social gatherings to winding down after a long day, alcohol is a prevalent part of many lifestyles. This guide will explore practical and savvy ways to cut costs without compromising taste or experience. By employing strategic tips and insightful approaches, you can savor your favorite drinks while keeping your wallet content.
How to Save Money on Alcohol
Happy Hours are great. These days, there are a lot of places that offer happy hour specials. Some spots have $2 beer specials on Tuesdays. There could be another place with $3 drinks on certain days of the week. I’ve also seen 2 for one-drink specials and $5 premium deals. If I’m going to a new bar for the first time, I ask the bartender or the waitress what the specials are. By doing that, you can stay within your budget.
When you’re going out to a spot for happy hour, you have to make sure that you check the times as well. Some happy hours are from 6 – 8 pm, while others may start their deals at 7 pm. I’ve also seen restaurants have a late-night happy, too. It started at 10 pm. Make sure that you do your research before you go dining out for a happy hour. The worst thing you can do is get to a spot where the happy hour is over. That would suck.
Pregaming is something that I’ve been doing ever since I was in college. It’s one of the most frugal ways to save money on this list. Pregaming means drinking before you go out. I have saved a lot of money over the years by doing that. Instead of $60 or $70 in a bar, you may only pay $20 if you pregame right. You should already be feeling nice once you step into the bar. Uber and Lyft allow you to pregame more now than ever. Since you don’t have to worry about driving, you can have a couple of shots or drinks before you go out.
The following way to save money on alcohol is by shopping around. If your neighborhood liquor store is expensive, try another one in the next neighborhood. Some of the brands are cheaper there. I’ve seen this scenario play out several times. Depending on where the liquor store is located, that could be the difference between paying $20 or $25 for your favorite liquor bottle.
I’ve also found that it is better to get your liquor off the strip in certain cities like Las Vegas. You may be tempted to buy the liquor on the strip, but think about it briefly. The prices will be higher since the strip is a major tourist destination. So pay attention to where you buy your liquor. It could save you some major money. If you are on vacation, it is better to bring your alcohol with you. If you want to avoid doing that, research what liquor stores will be near your hotel.
Choose House Brand
This option may be for you if you are on a tight budget. Another way to save money on alcohol is by drinking house liquor or beer. At one of my go-to spots, the house brew is pretty damn good. It does that job perfectly for me. Every bar may not have a house brew or liquor, so always check with the bartender. The price difference of the house brand could be by 3 or 4 bucks. That adds up if you plan on drinking a lot.
With some house brands, you may get a buzz quicker. That’s the point of drinking. You are trying to get a buzz to relax or feel better. The house beer or liquor can help you get there quicker.
Instead of buying four or more beers, consider purchasing a pitcher of beer at your favorite spot. A pitcher can be much cheaper than buying 4-6 beers individually. If you are at a happy hour, the price of the pitcher may be even more affordable.
Some bars have a special metal compartment in the pitcher that puts ice in to keep your beer cold. That’s awesome because you don’t have to worry about your beer getting warm.
You can also split the cost of a pitcher with a friend. I’ve done that before to save even more money.
Buy in Bulk
Money can be saved when you buy in bulk. Buying alcohol in bulk can mean purchasing a 30-pack of beer or a case of wine. This could be an excellent option for throwing a party or having friends over. It’s much cheaper than buying individual bottles. When I was in college, we would buy a 30-pack of Natty Ice for around $15. That was cheap since it was only 50 cents per beer. We would pay $1.50 per beer if we went to the bar. As you can see, buying in bulk is one of the best savings methods.
You can also buy mini liquor bottles if you don’t want to commit to a full-size bottle. This is an excellent option if you go to a party where you don’t know what everyone drinks. You can buy a variety of mini bottles and have something for everyone.
You can also buy big-gallon jugs of vodka, rum, or whiskey. This is an excellent option for making mixed drinks for a party. It’s much cheaper than buying smaller bottles.
Keep an eye out for store specials. Most grocery stores have weekly beer specials. Pay attention, and you can find decent deals while shopping for groceries. The specials aren’t limited to only beer. I’ve seen stores have specials on mixed drinks and wine as well.
Another thing to keep in mind is holidays. Stores will run specials on alcohol leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. If you plan on drinking for those holidays, it’s worth checking the store ads to see the deals.
It doesn’t hurt to check your favorite supermarket’s website to see what specials they are running. You might find some deals that way as well. It’s all about spending less.
Mix Your Own Cocktails at Home
Bars and restaurants charge an arm and a leg for mixed drinks. If you want to save money, mix your cocktails at home. It’s simpler than it sounds. All you need is some liquor, mixers, and ice.
You can find recipes for just about any cocktail online. Once you have the ingredients, all you need to do is follow the instructions. It’s that simple.
Fuzzy Navels and Bloody Marys are easy cocktails you can make at home. All you need is orange juice and peach schnapps for a Fuzzy Navel. You only need tomato juice, vodka, and some spices for a Bloody Mary.
If you want to be more adventurous, you can make Long Island Iced Teas, Margaritas, or Pina Coladas. Long Island Iced Tea mixes vodka, rum, tequila, gin, and triple sec. A Margarita mixes tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. A Pina Colada mixes rum, pineapple juice, and coconut milk.
You’ve probably heard of Trader Joe’s. They are a grocery store that specializes in selling cheap food. You might not know that they also sell cheap beer and wine.
Trader Joe’s Two-Buck Chuck is a really popular wine that’s inexpensive. It used to be two bucks, but who knows what the price will be when you read this? Yes, inflation has a way of staggering into our booze as well. Trader Joe’s also has an impressive selection of beer. They have everything from craft beer to domestic beer.
You can also find some decent deals on alcohol at Aldi. They are another grocery store that specializes in selling cheap food. Aldi has a decent selection of beer and wine. None of it is name-brand, but it’s all pretty good.
The last way to save money on alcohol is to purchase the cheapest bottom-shelf bottle of liquor that the store has. I haven’t done this in a while because most bottom-shelf liquor sucks. You can taste the difference. This is something that a lot of college students do to save money. If you don’t care much about taste or are just trying to get a buzz, feel free to grab the bottom-shelf liquor.
Most liquor stores have different kinds of cheap or bottom-shelf liquor that you can choose from. Since they are reasonable, you can test different types and see which one you and your friends like the best.
As you just read, there are a few simple ways to save money on alcohol. If you’re on a budget, these tips will help you out. I’ll be out of debt one day, but I have no problem cutting back right now. Drinking on a budget is something that anyone can do. You don’t have to spend much money to get your buzz. You have to plan it right.
Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.