Kicking back with a refreshing cocktail is a summer must. Grab a cool drink, find a shady spot, and you’ve got yourself a little backyard paradise.
Doing this on a daily basis can get expensive though, and there are a few simple ways to keep your cocktail costs down. First, mix up drinks with only a few ingredients instead of a long list of different liquors. Two ingredient cocktails are the way to go if you want to keep it cheap! Also, buy generic when going for mix-ins such as tonic water, juice, and soda to keep the cost down. Lastly, you’ll want to steer clear of expensive liquor brands to stay on the cheap side.
To get you started, we’ve found 10 easy summer cocktails that cost just $1 thanks to their limited ingredients, so you can relax in the shade without breaking the bank.
1. Mint Julep
You don’t have to watch the Kentucky Derby to enjoy a mint julep. This easy-to-make cocktail makes a fantastic drink to get you through the dog days of summer.
2. Paloma Cocktail
Source: Drizzle & Dip
Cool down this summer with a tangy Paloma cocktail. This delightfully refreshing and sophisticated drink is a Mexican staple that’s easy to mix up.
3. Grown-Up Gimlet
Source: Happy Hour Projects
You’ll love this grown-up lemonade. Make a large batch of the basil simple syrup and refrigerate it for up to three weeks so you can enjoy delicious lemon basil gimlets all summer long!
4. Tarragon Greyhound
Source: Kitchen Konfidence
It’s worth the extra effort to infuse your vodka with a fresh grapefruit. This tasty salted tarragon greyhound cocktail is a fantastic way to unwind on a hot summer day.
5. Gin & Tonic
Source: The Little Epicurean
A gin and tonic is the perfect classic summer cocktail. Tangy lime juice cuts the bitterness of the gin to bring you a crisp, clean, and refreshing drink.
6. Cuba Libre
Source: Food Blogger
This two-ingredient cuba libre cocktail is such an easy and delicious drink. Serve it with a light dinner on a hot summer evening.
7. Strawberry Pimm’s Cup
Source: Brown-Eyed Baker
Give your Pimm’s cup cocktail a taste of summer by tossing in extra strawberries from your fridge. You’ll enjoy this simple summer drink with or without the add-ins.
8. The Madras
Swap orange juice for grapefruit juice and your Sea Breeze becomes a madras cocktail. This delightful drink will keep you cool on a blazing hot day.
9. Watermelon Vodka Cooler
Source: Dine and Dish
Pureed watermelon makes an incredibly tasty juice that goes perfectly with vodka. Use up extra watermelon for a refreshing drink that tastes like summer in a glass.
Discover 12 more ways to serve watermelon for a deliciously refreshing summertime treat!
10. Tropical Rum Punch
Source: Sugar and Charm
This rum punch is the signature drink from the Turks and Caicos islands. This beautiful cocktail has a tropical, fruity, summery flavor that you’ll fall in love with.
Cheap liquor tricks: More ways to save
If these 10 delicious drinks have whet your whistle for budget-friendly booze, here are a few more ways to save even more cash on DIY cocktails.
- Buy bottom shelf: Liquor bottles stocked on the bottom shelf are notoriously cheaper, but swirling myths also say they’re not as good as high end, high-cost alcohol. Don’t believe the hype! Hunt down online reviews for whatever liquor you want to purchase. You’ll discover dozens of no-name bottles with high taste ratings, even when their sticker price is low!
- Make it sparkly: Instead of mixing up all-liquor cocktails, turn your favorite drinks into spritzers by adding a splash of sparkling water. You’ll still get all of that great flavor, but will have twice as much to sip on and share.
- Buy in bulk: Rather than stocking up on a dozen bottles of uniquely flavored liquors, buy just the basics, and buy them big. Oversized bottles of vodka, rum, and whiskey or bourbon can be mixed with a variety of low-cost ingredients to make hundreds of different cocktails. If you’ve stocked a simple bar, just add lemons and limes, sparkling water, maraschino cherries, and a few cans of fruit juice, and you’ll be able to be your own bartender for months to come.
- Stock up on discounts: Always using the same favorite bottle of liquor? Watch for when it’s discounted and buy two or three bottles at once. You’ll save a handful of cash and, since booze doesn’t go bad, you can rest assured your stash will stay safe until you’re ready to imbibe.
- Make your own mixers: Don’t blow your budget on pricey bottles of custom-made mixers. Make your own instead! Margaritas, Cosmos, Mai Tais, Long Island Iced Tea, Piña Coladas — and all of those cocktails that have mixers to go along with them — are surprisingly easy to make at home. Look online for make-your-own mixer recipes and discover how simple it is to mix your own drinks.