The ultimate guide to saving money on alcohol
Drinking is a huge part of university life - whether it be in your mates 1* hygiene-rated kitchen or at a club that makes you think £2 drinks make up for £20 entry. Either way, nothing can stop us, and to save the tears when you realise you've blown your loan in the space of a week, here are the best money-saving tips to get more booze for your money:
This sounds super obvious, but it's so easy just to go to the shop and "see what's there", when the reality is there's enough alcohol in the booze aisle to fill a river, and you end up picking the first thing you see. Supermarkets often have offers on that means you can get bigger bottles for the same price. Offers tend to change every week, so even if you don't want to drink what's on offer there and then, it's worth stocking up for when you inevitably have no loan left.
Price comparison sites such as MySupermarket are a useful way to help you decide which supermarket to go to, as you'd think £15 is pretty standard for a decent bottle of vodka, right? Well, turns out you can get the same bottle for around £5 less if you head to somewhere like Lidl or Aldi. You simply just select what you're looking for and it gives you a list at the side of the cheapest places to buy it.
Don't be a booze-snob
We all know someone that turns up to pre-drinks with a bottle of £60 vodka thinking getting drunk is some kind of elitist competition- at the end of the night we're all going to end up in the same place, the floor. Probably covered in sick.
What people don't realise is that you can buy unbranded versions of drinks for a considerably smaller price, and you can't even tell the difference. It's worth checking out stores such as Home Bargains and Aldi, because although they tend to stay away from big brands, you can get pretty good non-branded versions of drinks such as Amaretto for a fraction of the price. We even did a taste test on Bulmers against Aldi own brand and it's definitely worth a shot. Where 70cl of Disaronno would cost around £18 in a supermarket, you can get virtually the same thing for around a fiver. They also have loads of frozen cocktails, packs of shots and other drinks everyone loves starting at £1. If you want a head start we've already created you a list of budget wines that actually taste good.
Believe it or not, there are loads of bar chains that do free drinks offers that run year round. Pitcher & Piano offer a different free cocktail each month and at Be at One you'll get a free cocktail, when you sign up to its newsletter. If you sign up to the Pizza Express mailing list, you'll get a free bottle of prosecco for your birthday - classy. Similarly, All Bar One offers a free glass of prosecco, but all you have to do is download their loyalty app.
The free app Drinki gives you free drinks just for checking into bars on Facebook, and you can get a free drink EVERY DAY. Seriously. It only works in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Derby though.
Post-Christmas supermarket clear-outs
After Christmas is a great time to go to supermarkets as they do clearance sales of all of their Christmas stock - including alcohol. You can get sets with mini bottles and free shot glasses of your favourite brands for as little as £2 including Jägermeister and Jack Daniels. Sainsbury's stores seem to have a lot left right now, with sets such as The Famous Grouse including mini bottles, a glass and a couple of chocolates for just £2.25.
Happy Hours/loyalty cards
Most pubs/bars/clubs have a happy hour or deals between certain times. These are definitely worth checking out as sometimes you can kill two birds with one stone and get food and 2 drinks for the price of one drink at peak time. Loyalty cards are also a good way to save money - Revolution bars have a loyalty card that gets you 2-4-1 cocktails and 50% off all food, along with a free shot on your birthday and loads of other cool stuff. When you first join you also get a book with over £100 worth of vouchers in it. Considering the card's only £3, why wouldn't you?
Maybe the most important rule of all. The whole point of pre-drinks is get as drunk as possible so you don't have to pay a stupid amount for watered-down drinks at the club- beautiful, right? Plus pre-drinking is a good chance to play games to distract you from how badly the tequila burns your throat (we even compiled a list of the best ones to help you out). You want to aim for believing you're genuinely 2006 Britney in the back of an Uber. Plus, make sure you host pre-drinks as often as possible. That way people leave half finished bottles of vodka in your house when you head out, so you can keep them for yourself. Your friends never have to know.
Make your own cocktails
Cocktails in clubs and bars are usually super expensive if there's no offer on, so if you're more on the classy side, try making your own cocktails! We have a whole guide on how to make budget cocktails that taste good and do the job. Also try using squash as a mixer - it's cheaper, lasts way longer and could make a pint of wee taste alright.
Go out on week nights
This is great/terrible advice. If you have lectures the next day, maybe don't consider staying out until you have to go straight from the club to uni, but if you don't have to get up, it can be cheaper to go out on week nights. Often during the week clubs have themed nights on and cheap drink offers, making drinks as little as £1, so you can feel like you have some level of authority when you walk away from the bar with more drinks than you have hands.
Don't get ice in your drink
This may sound stupid but when you think logically, all ice does is take up room in a drink and leaves it watered down after five minutes. If you don't get ice, you won't necessarily get more alcohol but you'll get more mixer, which ultimately makes the drink taste better and gives you double the amount of drink. Plus, who cares about how cold their drink is after 5 pints anyway?
Please drink responsibly!