Ok, I know what you’re thinking: This girl is a lush. I’m not a lush, ya’ll. I’m just cheap. And I did happen to go one of the biggest party schools in America. But we don’t need to break a heel, fall in a bush and pee ourselves to save money on alcohol. We can be classy about it.
Here’s the best ways I’ve found to save money on alcohol and still save our dignity.
- Shop at discount stores
Discount grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Aldi are unbeatable for cheap wine. Trader Joe’s carries the infamous “3 buck Chuck” bottles of wine and Aldi carries the Winking Owl brand for a whopping $2.89. And if you are anything like me, you can’t tell much difference between a cheap bottle of wine and an expensive one.
- Alternative packaging
No judging here, folks. Boxed wine doesn’t have to be trashy, pour it in a glass and keep it classy. Boxed wine is a huge money saver. At Trader Joe’s ounce for ounce, the boxed wine is cheaper than the bottles of 3 buck chuck. So check your ounces, check your prices and check your snobbery at the door.
- Buy wholesale
If you have a membership to Costco or Sam’s Club you can rack up big savings on mid-range wine and beer. I’ve never seen prices as low as TJ’s or Aldi, but if you have more of a refined palate, buying wholesale at Costco or Sam’s could save you some big bucks.
- Buy airplane or single bottles to test
I hate buying a whole bottle of something just to figure out that it tastes like shoe polish. Airplane bottles of alcohol are great for taste testing and many stores will now let you mix and match 4 or 6 packs of beer. Tasting party, anyone?
- Cook with it!
Can’t stand that bottle of wine you bought? Cook with it! Pinterest has taught me oh-so-many wonderful things including the fact that you can make wine into candy! Unsavory beer can go into stew and tequila can marinate chicken!
- Learn how to make a proper drink
If you are a budding mixologist, it can be difficult to get the right proportions in any mixed drink. Luckily, we have the magic of the Internet in our homes and there is free and helpful advice for making drinks right there at your fingertips. In fact, here’s a few recipes from your’s truly. Here. Here and here.
- Don’t be brand-loyal
Brand loyalty can crush your wallet and your dreams. Ok, that was dramatic, but brand loyalty isn’t going to help you save money. Often times just switching out your imported liquor for a domestic brand will cut costs. And 9 times out of 10 you won’t even be able to tell the difference.
- Home brew wine and beer
Home brewing wine and beer is legal in the U.S. Homebrewing liquor, not so much. I’ve seen some super simple home brew set ups online and I think home brewing might just be my next big DIY project. Has anyone had luck with home brewing? As always, let me know in the comments.
When dining out
- Taste test
Some bars and restaurants will give you a small thimble-sized taste before ordering a drink to ensure that you will be happy with it. If your bar doesn’t offer that service get the server to describe the drink to you in detail. Be clear about what you want and if you aren’t happy, let someone know. Bad drinks can be saved or remade. Just remember to be super polite and tip well!
- Research happy hours
Happy hour specials are made to lure people in before the crowds– usually 5pm-7pm. Happy hour doesn’t have a cover charge and often has great specials. The restaurant I worked at in college offered free appetizers and drinks at ridiculously low prices. There are happy hour deals to be found, people.
- Skip drinks when dining out
If you really want to save some dough, skip the drinks when dining out. It’s lame. I know. But you can drink when you get home. Drinks are double, triple and even quadruple the price when you are dining out.
- Ask for water with your drink
If you must drink with dinner, because yes, sometimes we must, ask for a water with your drink. Water will help you from guzzling and it will help with dehydration from alcohol. Wins all around.
- Ask for a double
This one is a little risky. You’ll need to check with your bartender or server first, but at some restaurants if you order a double, you’ll get it cheaper than ordering two drinks. If you know you’ll be partaking in more than one beverage that evening, ordering a double may be a tricky way to save some dough. Just make sure you sip and don’t treat it as a single! We don’t want any Sloppy Susans.
This is the oldest college rule in the book, but if you drink before you go out, you’ll end up spending less at the bar. I’m pretty sure I learned this in my freshman orientation class. Just make sure you have a D.D.!
- Order the house drink
The house wine or beer is always going to be cheaper than the other stuff on the menu. Also make sure you ask about specials. Restaurants and bars will put deep discounts on drinks that they have too many of or may be reaching their expiration date.
Many restaurants will let you bring your own beverage. Just make sure you call ahead for this service. Some restaurants will still charge a “corking fee,” but if their wine is incredibly expensive, it’ll still save you a few bucks.
I don’t think I have to say it, but always remember to drink responsibly and tip your bartender!
What tips and tricks do you have to save money on booze? Let me know in the comments!