The drinkplanner guide to cheap drinking

So things are rough all over. The economy is slugging us all in the breadbox, and there’s no sign of letting up. Maybe you’re jobless and can’t feed yourself or your family, and you’re considering selling one of your kids to a Hungarian slave trader. Or maybe you’ve had to stop flossing with champagne-flavored white gold strands encrusted with crushed pearl dust and gargling with mouthwash made from Genuine Orphan Tears™ (”It’s the sadness that makes it so good!”). EITHER WAY, you’re feeling the pinch, amirite? One thing is for sure: now more than ever, we could all use a drink. So what’s the best way to imbibe on a limited budget? DrinkPlanner is here to help.  

A Warning: some of these tips are sneaky and underhanded, and may alienate you from friends and family.  Use them at your own risk, cheapie.  

So first…when you’re Drinking Out:

1. Pre-Game – Everyone knows drinking out is exponentially more expensive than drinking at home. You can buy a case of cheap beer or a handle of booze for what they charge for a pitcher in some places. But that’s not what you’re paying for when you go out, you’re paying for the ambiance, the sociability, maybe to see a band, just to get OUT like a normal person (I’m making a huge assumption here that you’re normal).

So, PRE-GAME.  Meaning: start getting loaded before you hit the town*.  Drink as much as you feel comfortable drinking as quickly as you can, and get on your way.  Heck, depending on how close you are to your destination, you may not even start to feel the alcohol until you arrive.  Once there, you just need to drink enough to maintain that good good thing.  

2. Drink Specials – Nearly every bar and restaurant in the world has some sort of special on drinks every night of the week to lure you in. Take advantage of it! Some places, like where I am, are only able to offer all-day specials. Others have happy hours or “first 50 people” deals, so keep your eyes open. Sites like this one (or this one or this one) are a great way to check who’s got a special on what, and where you need to go to get it. PROTIP: The best specials are always during the week, because business is slower and they want to lure you in.  People are going to go out on Friday and Saturday night regardless, so they don’t need to seduce you with promises of tasty discount hooch.  Again, take advantage of what’s out there when it’s out there…$4 well drinks can get you sloshed in no time, you’ve just got to find them.  

3. Go to a House Party – Know somebody throwing a party?  Go drink their booze!  Even if you’re planning on going somewhere else as your final destination, stop by and fill up before hitting the town.  Even people throwing a BYOB party will have SOMEthing for people who “forgot” to bring something, even if it’s just leftover crap beers or a punchbowl of something.  Beggars can’t be choosers, so drink up and be on your way.  Yes, this is a little scumbaggy.  Just expect to have the same happen to you at the next party you throw.  Circle of life and all that.  

Can the words “house” and “party”ever be next to each other and this picture/movie not be mentioned?  Hell, I didn’t even post this pic, it just appeared

4. Bring a Flask – We’re past the point of being embarrassed or feeling cheap, so suck it up Nancy.  Going out to drink can cost some serious skrilla, and bringing your own supply of pick-me-up can save you quite a bit of coin.  For The Drinker On The Go, there’s no more essential accessory than the flask.  I don’t recommend using it at the table or bar, because c’mon…show a LITTLE class.  Excuse yourself to the restroom or some other private area, find an unoccupied stall, and toss it back.  You can drink from it in the “general population” area of the bathroom if you like, just expect to share.  Such is the unspoken rule of the flask-carrying community.  If you feel a little sleazy doing this, you can console yourself with the knowledge that every shot you toss back is $5-10 that stays in your pocket.  That’s a foot-long sandwich, son!

5. Buy Cheaper Booze – Hi, I’m Doctor Duh, I’d like to welcome you to my No Shit, Sherlock seminar on the painfully obvious.  Of course you know this.  Specifically though, I’m talking about when ordering rounds of shots.  Ordering name brand booze or shots with names like Buttery Nipple always cost more.  Your friends want to order the table rounds of Patron and Washington Apples?  Let them order those first.  When it gets to your turn, order the $2 Woo-woo’s that are on special, or the house tequila.  Everyone should be good and liquored up by then and less likely to care (or notice you whisper the order to the server), and you may take some shit for it, but at the end of the night you’ll be the one with $20-30 extra dollars in your pocket.  

A final note about going out:  If you’re too poor to tip appropriately, you’re too poor to go out.  Your server is just as hard up for cash as you are, don’t take your cheapness out on them.  

Now, tips for when you’re Drinking at Home:

Better passed out in your underwear on your own floor than in front of the opera house…again

1. Use Fewer Mixers – Usually mix your rum and Cokes (or Screwdrivers or 7 and 7’s or whatever) in a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio?  Change that over to a 50/50 mix.  Once your ladyparts get used to drinking more alcohol, you’ll find your rate of consumption stays about the same as it was, but you’re drinking more booze over a shorter period of time.  So where it used to take you 4 drinks to get a solid buzz, it now only takes you 2.  Drinking more booze up front rather than rationing it out over time will end up saving you cash on both booze and mixers in the long run.  This is the benefit of drinking at home, you control the strength of your drink, and therefore are Master and Commander of your buzz.  
Or you could just cut out mixers altogether, and acclimate yourself to drinking cocktails consisting only of alcohol.  You can ease your way in with easy-to-drink cocktails like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned, and work your way up to Martinis and Negronis or just whiskey in a glass.  It’s good.  

2. Dial Down Your Brands – Dr. Duh here again, encouraging you to purchase my new instructional DVD Keep Digging, Watson: The Quest For More Obviousness.  BUT SERIOUSLY FOLKS, there’s a lot of great brands down there on the lower shelves in the liquor store.  I have a friend who’s always been a strict Sam Adams drinker, but recently he’s switched over to Yuengling most nights because he saves at least a buck per pint.  And it’s good stuff.    Bourbon brands like Evan Williams and Ezra Brooks have been getting a lot of attention lately because they’re great spirits that for whatever reason fell out of fashion over the years, so now they cost a fraction of what some of the bigger names cost.  Vodka is probably the best place to find value, with some brands delivering the same quality of the premium brands at less than half the price.  Your mixer is going to cover up most differences in quality anyhow.  Don’t try to tell me that the guy who puts ranch dressing and hot sauce on everything has such a delicate and refined palate that you can distinguish the subtle shades of difference between Belvedere and Sobieski.  

Are all discount brands winners?  Absolutely not, but there are more than a few nuggets of drinking gold to be found in the lower-priced boozes 

WHOA WHOA WHOA…back it up there chief.  No need to resort to drinking Bum Wine.  Yet.  

3. Shop Around – As a rule, your larger stores are going to have better prices overall.  It works the same way as large discount stores like Costco or even Target.  They’re able to buy a huge quantity and offer lower prices than small mom-and-pop joints.  BULK! However, it’s not a hard and fast rule.  Know what you’re planning to buy before you go shopping is important, and when you go to different stores, keep a mental note of the prices.  For example, the big mega-booze store that’s maybe a 15 minute drive from me and usually has incredible prices on just about everything sells the 1.75L of Sailor Jerry’s rum for about $25.  But I know from having shopped around that the little family-run store less than 5 minutes from my house that normally gouges the crap out of me on everything happens to carry it for just under $20.  I just saved myself $5 and a trip that’s significantly out of my way.  

4. Change Your Habits – We all know that alcohol is alcohol is alcohol.  Your system is designed to break down beer and wine and spirits the same way, doesn’t matter which one you’re ingesting.  But sometimes it helps to switch things up.  Varying what you drink can surprise your body, and maybe make a buzz easier to get.  If you’re a wine drinker, try throwing a mixed drink in your routine.  Beer drinker?  Try a glass or 14 of wine.  It defies logic, but changing up your drinking game by varying alcohol percentages can be an easy way to score a Perfect Drunk without spending more money than you normally would.  

5. Don’t Drink as Often – Hold up there Cowpoke, let me explain.  I firmly believe in a regular drinking schedule, let’s get that on record first and foremost.  Science is on our side that regular drinking is a healthy thing.  HOWEVER, if the crunch is REALLY on, and you are trying to milk every last penny’s worth, give yourself a break now and then.  Depending on your current intake, giving your body a break for a day or two or five can give your tolerance a chance to tumble down, which makes you a cheaper drunk.  Sure, it will increase the stress of your day-to-day, but sometimes it’s worth it to let that pressure build up and then RELEASE all at once rather than at the end of every workday (or breakfast).  Character-building and whathaveyou.  

So hopefully these tips will help you ride this downturn out and we can get back to sipping 50 year old single-malt scotches out of goblets made from pegasus hooves and angel teeth.  Business as usual.  

*As always, you’re responsible for your own actions.  Don’t drink and drive, have a DD.  Don’t break the consumption laws where you live.  We’re a blog, not babysitters, so what you do is on your own head.

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  1. G-Dizzle Said,

    YEAH! I’m the Sam Adams guy! I’m famous on!! WOOHOO!!!! I’ve made it!! I’m gonna call my parents!

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