16 Cocktail Recipes for Those on a Budget
March 16, 2023 by Karl Tessendorf
The end of the year is fast approaching, and with it comes that elusive list of New Year’s resolutions. If you’re anything like us, then right under ‘go to gym more’ will be ‘budget better’. Well, my penny-pinching friends, do we have a treat for you today! We’ve put together a list of 16 of the best cheap cocktails for any budget. It’s packed with so many tasty classics that you’ll have a hard time believing that they’re all budget cocktails.
1. Vodka Cranberry (Cape Codder)
Kicking us off on the road to tasty and cheap cocktails is a 3-ingredient vodka classic. The Vodka Cranberry, or Cape Codder if you happen to be from Cape Cod, is a simple blend of vodka and cranberry juice with a dash of OJ. It’s tart and refreshing with a hint of orange sunshine sweetness. Serve it in a highball with lots of ice and savour the flavours of this delicious budget cocktail.
2. Cuba Libre
Our next budget cocktail is the cheapest way to take your tastebuds on a Cuban adventure. It’s the rum and Coke classic, and it’s been refreshing tired salsa dancers since the 1900s. We’re always amazed when such a simple cocktail can taste so darn good. The spicy sweetness of the rum twirls in time to the effervescent cola bite, while lime adds the final flourish.
3. Black Russian
If you’re on the hunt for budget cocktail recipes, then you must try the Black Russian. With just a couple of rocks, a splash of coffee liqueur, and a glug of vodka, the Black Russian is born. It’s rich and sweet with a vodka bite that will have you coming back sip after sip. If you have some cream, you can add a splash and convert it to a White Russian.
4. Malibu Sunset
It might look super fancy, but this budget-friendly sunset in a glass couldn’t be easier to pour. All it takes is coconut rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and the secret ingredient, grenadine. Simply mix the rum and fruit juices in a glass with ice, and slowly add the grenadine into the centre of the drink. It will sink to the bottom, but stir it gently to create the gradient, and presto—you’re bartender of the year!
5. Moscow Mule
The humble mule has always been a workhorse, and the Moscow Mule is no different. It was invented in the 1940s after a fateful meeting between two men with two different problems. One was trying to launch a new vodka brand, and the other had a surplus of ginger beer in his pub. The rest is history, and ever since then the Moscow Mule has been crushing thirsts with its ginger bite.
6. Gin and Tonic
Maybe it’s just us, but when it comes to elegant 2-ingredient cocktails, the G&T reigns supreme. Gin is a riot of fresh, zesty, bracing favours, and tonic is the perfect bitter counterpoint. They come together in a symphony of flavour, and it’s easy to see why it’s such an iconic drink. It’s one of the best cheap cocktails around, so put some G in your T this season.
If you’re looking for an uncomplicated yet deliciously refreshing cocktail, then take a trip to Highball country. All you need is good whiskey, some ice, and a splash of soda water, and you’ve got yourself a classic. It’s been around since soda water was invented—and stuck around because of its simplicity. Keep it classic with a peaty Scotch, or opt for bourbon and savour the mellow flavours.
8. Lemon Drop Martini
Just because a cocktail is cheap doesn’t mean it can’t add a little pizzazz to your life. The Lemon Drop Martini is your ticket to an elegant dance of all things citrus in a glass. Orange liqueur, citrus vodka, simple syrup and a squeeze of lemon create a refreshingly tart and perfectly balanced drink. It’s a 1970s classic and it could be your new best-budget cocktail.
9. Gin Rickey
Besides being fun to say out loud, “Gin Rickey, Gin Rickey, Gin Rickey”, this iconic drink is delicious and easy on the pocket. A 3-ingredient blend of gin, lime juice and soda water, the Gin Rickey is vibrant, perky and refreshing. We recommend a gin with citrus notes to bounce off the fresh lime juice for a complementary cocktail experience.
If you search for ‘cheap cocktails London’ you’re unlikely to find your results brimming with Cosmos. That’s because they were made famous on Sex and the City and with fame comes a price tag. Lucky for you, they’re easy to make at home, and only require 4 ingredients. Grab some citrus vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice and lime juice, and you’re a shake away from Cosmo glory.
11. Classic Lime Daiquiri
Move aside slushie and sugary Daiquiris, because it’s time for the one and only, Classic Lime Daiquiri. Invented in 1898, this iconic drink is delicious, simple and most importantly, it’s a cheap cocktail to make. Grab some good quality white rum, add a squeeze of lime, and a dash of simple syrup and shake it up. It’s bright and punchy with a delicate balance of sweet and sour flavours.
12. Strawberry Daiquiri with Vodka
Move aside Lime Daiquiri. It’s Strawberry Daiquiri time! Yes, it’s the frozen love child that’s famous for its fresh strawberry flavour and brain-freezing moments. You’ll need a blender for this one, but this daiquiri will come together in a flash and is easy to make in batches.
13. Rum Punch
The Rum Punch might be the easiest way to throw a cocktail party on a budget. Just grab your biggest bowl, or use your (cleaned) kitchen sink, and fill it with ice. Add some rum and an assortment of fruit juices, and you’ve got yourself a rum punch. If you’ve still got something left in the budget, then add some chopped fruit to the mix to bulk it up, and let you guests help themselves.
14. Dark ‘n Stormy
Remember our budget-beating workhorse the Moscow Mule? Well, the Dark ‘n Stormy is its seahorse pirate cousin. Rum replaces the vodka, and with it comes wave after wave of dried fruit and spice, followed by the zing of lime and ginger beer. It may sound ominous but when it comes to cheap cocktails, the Dark ‘n Stormy is your first mate.
15. Piña Colada
The Piña Colada is a Tiki classic that comes together faster than you can sing the song. You can serve them either shaken or blended, but don’t blow the budget on a blender if you don’t have one. Use good quality rum and cream of coconut (not coconut cream), pineapple and lime juice. Blitz until smooth, or shake over ice vigorously then strain and serve. Whichever route you take, a Piña Colada is always a good idea.
The Mojito is another cocktail that looks like bar wizardry when it’s being made. It’s a flurry of muddled limes, sugar and mint that’s topped with rum and soda. It’s light and ultra-refreshing, with the cool hit of mint and lime working together to tantalise your tastebuds. Other than the rum, the rest of the ingredients are as budget-friendly as it gets, so get your Mojito on!