10 Cheap Drinks to Make at Home

Easy and Fantastic Cocktails for the Frugal Drinker

Mojito
Claire Cohen

A night out with friends is among the first things we cut out of the budget when finances get tight. Even when you choose to stay home, you can still enjoy a great drink or two and there's no need to spend a fortune stocking your home bar, either.

With just a few essentials and a little planning, you can enjoy a nice variety of easy cocktails. It may even surprise you that some of the cheapest drinks are among the most popular drinks at the bar. Think of that money you've been wasting!

  • 01 of 10

    Cape Codder

    cape codder
    Claire Cohen

    Call it a vodka cranberry or a Cape Codder, either way, it is a simple drink that's tasty any time of day. A bottle of cranberry juice can be found for a few bucks and if you add that to a carefully chosen inexpensive bottle of vodka, you'll have Cape Codders for days at minimal cost.

    Once you have those two drink ingredients you can add a little here and there to create new cocktails and continue saving money:

  • 02 of 10

    Margarita and Daiquiri

    Margarita
    Claire Cohen

    Both the margarita and the daiquiri are obvious favorites. They are also one of the most cost-effective ways to diversify your drinking experience.

    For either, you basically need one distilled spirit—tequila or rum—with a budget-friendly liqueur here and there. Add a few fresh fruits that are in season (and at their lowest prices) or pick up the canned or frozen versions. You really can shake or blend these two drinks ​into any flavor you can imagine.​

  • 03 of 10

    Black Russian

    Black Russian
    Claire Cohen

    Easy and luscious, the black Russian is one of the best drinks for a tight budget. With a few extras at hand, you can make any number of vodka drinks. Be sure to check your liquor store for coffee liqueurs that are cheaper than Kahlua. You may be able to save a few bucks there as well.

    Build on that popular vodka and Kahlua base by serving up one of these drinks.

  • 04 of 10

    Lemon Drop Martini

    Lemon Drop Martini
    Claire Cohen

    Vodka, lemon juice, and sugar combine for an elegant and low-cost drink. It's a fantastic cocktail and the zing of a freshly-made lemon drop martini is a pure pleasure in the flavor department.

    Make a quick switch in the ingredients and you can enjoy a variety of vodka martinis without spending a fortune. They taste just as good as those $12 martinis you're ordering at the bar.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Highball

    Highball
    Claire Cohen

    Pick up a six-pack of ginger ale for a few bucks and grab a bottle of whiskey. With those, you can mix up the "highball" of all highballs for a few days. You're looking at $20 or less, depending on your whiskey of choice. When the budget is tight, that sounds pretty good for a week's worth of drinking!

    Tall drinks will end up saving you the most money because they take longer to drink. Use any of these popular recipes to switch up your routine or simply add a splash of any juice you have in the fridge.

    Also, remember as a true frugal drinker, measuring your whiskey ensures you're not overpouring and wasting money!

    • Presbyterian: Add club soda as well.
    • Horse's Neck: Switch to brandy or keep the whiskey. Whichever you choose, a lemon twist is essential.
    • Jameson and Ginger: The ginger ale highball for Irish whiskey drinkers.
    • John Collins: Lemon, syrup, and club soda will keep you refreshed.
    • Old-Fashioned: Since you have whiskey, why not add an orange, cherry, and a bit of sugar?
    • Gin Buck: Make the switch to gin when you're in the mood for something different.

    Did you know that you can also make your own ginger ale? If you use it a lot, this might be a good way to save even more money.

  • 06 of 10

    Gin Rickey

    Gin Rickey
    Claire Cohen

    One way to save money in the bar is to invest in a soda maker or siphon and a few CO2 cartridges. With that one tool, you can make any soda drink you like and avoid wasting money on individual bottles of soda. A well-stocked bar and a little soda can take you from the gin Rickey to a myriad of other drinks at minimal cost:

  • 07 of 10

    Gin and Tonic

    Gin and Tonic
    Claire Cohen

    A favorite for many drinkers, the gin and tonic can be as cheap or extravagant as you want to make it. You can find some great gins for around $15 and a six pack of small tonic water bottles will cost just a few dollars.

    Once you have those two ingredients, you're on the way to a great variety of drinks. You can add a shot of flavored syrup or a random fruit juice to mix up your G&T routine as well. Just look in the fridge and see what you have to work with.

  • 08 of 10

    Rum and Coke

    Rum and coke
    Claire Cohen

    Rum is one of the least expensive spirits and that makes the rum and Coke one of the cheapest drinks you can mix up. Pair a $10 bottle of rum with a $1 liter of cola and you have a drink that's as tasty as it is easy on the wallet.

    With those two ingredients, you can switch it up a bit and mix up more cheap drinks:

    • Cuba Libre: Add fresh lime.
    • Lounge Lizard: Go with a dark rum and add amaretto.
    • Lime Cola: Hold the rum for an old-fashioned soda fountain drink.
    • Trojan Horse: Pick up a pint of Guinness and mix that with cola.
    • Whiskey and Coke: Go with a Jack and Coke or save some cash with any cheaper Canadian or American whiskey.
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Kir

    Kir Royale
    Claire Cohen

    One of the best ways to spruce up a low-cost bottle of wine is to mix it. In the kir cocktail, an equally inexpensive bottle of crème de cassis adds a touch of flavor and sweetness to a dry white wine.

    Red and white wines can be dressed up in any number of ways. Use these as a starting point to inspire your own custom wine cocktails.

  • 10 of 10

    Mojito

    Mojito
    Claire Cohen

    Sometimes it takes a few fresh herbs to spice up a drink. If you have a bottle of rum, some mint, and club soda, then you have yourself a mojito! It's a fantastic drink that doesn't have to break the bank and it's easier than you think.

    Between your garden, the produce market, and your regular bar stock, there are many ways to tweak and change up the mojito on the cheap: