Cheap cocktails does not have to mean scrimping on taste or quality


Emma Jones

We all love a cocktail and it can be the ultimate in decadence to sip an elaborately prepared Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. However, cocktails can be expensive, especially when so called premium spirits are involved. So, whether you are going to be hosting a party or you would simply like to reduce your weekly shopping bill, there are some great tasting (but budget friendly) cocktails out there that can help you save big.

You don't need to go out in order to have a bar or club cocktail experience. Instead there are some excellent cocktails that you can learn to make at home with just a few essentials. It might be worth checking what you have in your cupboards before rushing out to the supermarket. That way you can be sure not to overspend, buying items you didn't need.

We've put together a list of cocktails that are for a fraction of the price compared to what you would pay at a local bar. When your finances start to get tight, especially around month end or the festive period, stocking your home bar with some of these great items can really surprise you with how much money you can save. Here are some of the top cheap cocktails that will be delicious and impress your guests. Much like lending responsibly, remember to drink responsibly.

Cut limes ready for cocktail making

A Black Russian

You may have heard of the vodka drink called a White Russian but a Black Russian is considerably cheaper to produce especially if you are on a tight budget. Rather than using a series of Kahlua based liquors to make the drink, you can just use coffee beans! Soak espresso grinds in the vodka for a few hours and serve it over ice, vodka and a wedge of orange. This is certainly a unique type of cocktail but it remains one of the cheapest options to stock your bar with as it really just takes 2 main ingredients.

Here are our top cocktails:

  • Old Fashioned
  • Negroni
  • Daiquiri
  • Manhattan
  • Whiskey Sour
  • Dry Martini
  • Gin and Tonic


Ginger ale and a bottle of whisky is all that you need to make a great Highball. This is a drink that you would typically pay quite a few quid for, but if you are happy to make them in a highball glass you can save money by making sure that the drink is mostly made out of ginger ale. There are a few different variations of a Highball that you can make with brandy and whisky. The brandy version is called a horse's neck and this means adding in a lemon twist with the ginger ale and brandy before the mixing starts up. You could also consider creating an Old Fashioned which involves whisky, orange peels, cherries and a bit of sugar.

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A Presbyterian is another version of this cocktail that utilises the same highball ingredients using club soda, ginger ale and whisky together. One of the most cost-effective cocktails that you can re-create with just two ingredients; Irish whisky and ginger. This has long been a favourite of cocktail drinkers over many years and it's also one of the tastiest cocktails that you can make in a highball glass with just a few simple ingredients.

Gin and tonic

A classic British Empire cocktail. Simple yet also one of the best budget cocktails that you can make at home that's extremely easy to prepare. Simply pick up some tonic water and chill it in the fridge. Mix the gin together in a balloon glass with some citrus fruit (lemon, lime or grapefruit work well) and add ice. For a twist you could add a little bit of squash or flavoured syrup (i.e. syrup that you would typically add into water).

A gin and tonic is a classic that will never date and, if you aren't too fussy on the calibre of the gin, then it can be very cost effective. With just two or three ingredients you can produce a flavourful and classy drink that doesn't seem too cheap at all. If you happen to run out of gin and you have a spare bottle of vodka around you can also substitute the gin for vodka to make a very similar cocktail. There are some people that prefer the vodka version to a gin and tonic as well. Vodka soda or vodka and tonic remains an extremely popular drink in clubs and it is also one of the cheapest that you can continue to make at home.

Mint leaves ready for cocktail making

Rum and cola

Picking up a bottle of rum and a bottle of cola can be an excellent way to produce some tasty cocktails on an extreme budget. Favoured by uni students across the land, this can be the cheapest cocktail of the lot, if using a cost per glass measure! There are a few variations of a rum and cola that you could consider changing up if you are getting a little tired of this type of cocktail. Cuba Libre for example adds fresh lime juice into the mix for a bit of a tropical flavour or you could change it up and turn it into a Black Friday with whiskey, cola and ginger beer mixed together. Rum and cola remains one of the easiest cocktails that you could make and it's still one of the cheapest party drinks that you can offer that can pack a good punch.

Vodka cranberry

A vodka cranberry drink is also known as a Cape Cod and it is one of the most inexpensive cocktails that you can make. Mix the cranberry juice together with a shot of vodka to give you a wonderful tasting drink at a very low cost per serving. You can get away with buying a non-premium brand of vodka because cranberry juice will hide the taste masterfully! Consider adding in variations such as a lemon wedge or even a sugar topping to the glass if you want to make the drink a little more up-market.

Things no home bar should be without

Just because you are preparing your cocktails at home and not in some high-end bar, doesn't mean scrimping on the ingredients. Check out these home bar essentials:

A metal shaker is best but make sure it has a tight-fitting top covering a strainer. You can get cocktail shakers online or in stores and they can come in stylish designs. An absolute must for any home bar.

It may be built in to your shaker or you may need one to fit over the glass to keep out any bits of fruit or herbs from your drink.

Jiggers are metal measuring devices that usually have two cones, one on either end that you can use to ensure accurate measuring in getting that cocktail blend just right.

Unlike a normal spoon, a bar spoon has a long shaft, perfect for getting to the bottom of a tall glass and a spiral handle. The handle makes it easy to mix and get in between the ice.

Starting to sound like a Harry Potter novel huh? Well a muddler is basically a thick stick that is used to mash ingredients in the bottom of a glass.

Ok more of a flair item, this helps you pour fast and accurately, great if you are making a lot of cocktails in one go. Remember don't leave a speed pourer on your bottles after use as replacing the cap will extend their shelf life.

Kir/wine spritzer

Making a Kir is a fairly simple way that you can turn a modest bottle of wine into a quality cocktail. Red and white wines can be mixed into a delicious punch known as Kir by adding in creme de cassis. You could also consider producing a wine spritzer by adding in club soda or some flavour syrup. Making up a big batch of white wine spritzer could be a great way that you can have an excellent party punch and a wonderful cocktail that only really costs you a fairly inexpensive bottle of wine. The nice part about wine spritzer is that it's a fairly light drink that goes well with many types of food and remains quite refreshing when served with fresh fruit.


This white rum drink is a popular favourite at many restaurants and it is actually quite inexpensive to make. You really just need three ingredients including club soda, mint and rum. Pick up some fresh mint leaves or even grow them in your garden over the year and you can have one of the main ingredients that's required to make a quality Mojito. Mash up some of the mint leaves and place them into a glass with some club soda. Toss in some ice and some rum and you have got a fantastic drink that's very quaffable. If you prepare all the ingredients ahead of time or make up a large batch of mojitos you can be ready for a whole party.

Lemon drops

Lemon drop style martinis are fairly elegant and also a very widely requested drink at many bars. It's likely that you are used to handing over quite a few pounds for one of these martinis at a bar but you could easily be producing the cocktail at home for just a fraction of the price. To get started all you need to do is pick up a bottle of vodka, triple sec and lemon juice. Mix together a shot of vodka, 2 shots of triple sec and lemon juice together into a cocktail shaker that's filled with ice. Strain out into a martini glass and then you can serve them with a lemon peel on the side. The whole thing will cost less than half the price of what you would typically pay at the club and you can produce a very elegant martini with very little effort using this recipe.


Margaritas are a very cost-effective cocktail that you can produce at home. You can make up your own margarita batch with a blender, ice sugar and lime juice or even buy the pre-made mix. In most cases you can find the pre-made frozen mix at many supermarkets in a big bucket or the flavouring that you can simply pour over ice. The mixes are generally not that expensive and you can get away with using modestly priced tequila because of the sweet flavours that are involved with the cocktail. If you wanted to really spice up the margarita you could consider adding in some fresh fruit that is currently in season or as you are going to be blending, frozen fruit also works. You can shake a margarita over ice or blend them together if you want a more classic margarita experience. Because most of the drink is made out of ice, the costs are extremely low and this is the perfect cocktail that you could introduce at a summer barbecue or a special birthday party.


Keep some of these top inexpensive cocktails in mind if you are hosting a party or you simply want to save a bit of money. If you find yourself regularly drinking pre-prepared cocktails or going out to a bar quite often, sticking with some of these cocktails you make at home will help you to cut out a huge cost from your budget.

Got some of your own recipes for great tasting yet cost-effective cocktails? Then let us know on our social media pages.