Nothing beats a summer brunch cocktail, except maybe a late night cocktail at a bar with an outdoor patio on a long weekend in July. Only problem? They’re so expensive. So instead of dropping $30 (not including tip) on for two fruity boozy drinks, I made it my mission to create a few go-to cheap summer cocktails:
The Good Morning Bloody Maria
Your standard Bloody Mary comes with an olive, celery and a pickle, as well as horseradish, vodka, celery salt, tomato juice, and Worcestershire sauce. But according to trendy recipe sites, going rogue with your Bloody Mary is all the rage. You have permission to improvise with whatever crunchy, salty leftovers are in the fridge.
How I make it: When I started mixing my Bloody Mary, I realized I didn’t have pickles, celery, olives, horseradish (I’m not a fan), or even vodka. But I did have tomato juice (get it in a can! It’s so much cheaper than V8), celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, fake sausage and fake bacon (I’m a veg), cheese, mushrooms, and tequila, which was good enough for me.
First, I made a circle of celery salt on a small plate and wet the rim if my glass with my fingers. Then I added the mixed ingredients, cooked up the mushrooms and fake meat, and then skewered them along with the other garnishes on a chopstick. I called the result my Good Morning Bloody Maria (because tequila), and it was filling, delicious, and I would have gladly served it to friends… if it hadn’t been a weekday.
Cost: I spent $2.35 on tomato juice and the rest I had at home. Compare that to a $10-$14 Bloody Mary at a bar or restaurant.
Minty Rum and Coke
Mint is inexpensive, and for me, it’s the key ingredient for turning a college-dorm drink into one worthy of serving to guests.
How I make it: Add to rum and Mexican Coke. Picking up a glass bottle of real, authentic-sugar Mexican Coke and adding a little mint is a true, sophisticated upgrade from the usual, and still very inexpensive. At most bars, you can’t even get a pure-sugar Coke, but they’ll still charge you $8 for the drink.
Mix it with lime juice. I often have lime juice in the house, but not a lot of other ingredients required for fancy cocktails (ginger syrup, Chartreuse, etc.). But lime juice, mint, soda water, vodka and brown sugar? Simple, economical and delicious. Compare it with a $10-$12 cocktail out on the town.
Cost: Mint $1.69 from the grocery store. Mexican Coke $1.35 from the grocery store.
Just Add Bitters
If you’re like me and the idea of keeping a lot of perishable ingredients in the house doesn’t make sense for the occasional cocktail hour, invest in bitters.
How I use them: I like to add it to LaCroix and vodka to give my summer fizz a hint of sophistication. No need to tell your friends how easy and low-cost it was to throw together. I’d compare it to a $9 cocktail at your local bar.
Cost: A bottle of bitters can run you around $5 at your local Walmart but you can pay more for fancy artisanal bitters at your local liquor store or online.
Order them now! Not only are you getting ahead of so many major cities on the Save the Planet train, but they’re a reusable way to class up any cocktail. Tossing a metal straw into a vodka lemonade (along with some mint, why not?) makes a humdrum drink into something truly Instagram-worthy.
Cost: Stainless steel straws are super popular right now. You can find sets of 6 and 8 straws from around $7 and up on Amazon.
Did you know that boxed wine is socially acceptable now? Quel relief! No more feeling fretful over having French bistro tastes on a Franzia budget. Brands like Black Box and Bota Box wine are fiscally responsible, delicious and—thankfully—cool option.
Cost: Around $20 for 3 liters. This is approximately 4 bottles of wine, or at least $85 at a restaurant or bar without tip included.
Save money every day
Save money on all the things you want to do in life. Smart-Save automatically saves the right amount for you, based on your spending habits and patterns.