09 July 2007

Frugal boozing

Note: I am in no way endorsing binge drinking, under age drinking, drinking and driving, or drinking in general. This is a light-hearted post to compare the cost of various adult beverages. If you are offended by this article, you'll just have to get over it.

I like to drink. Not to excess very often, but I enjoy the relaxing effects of alcohol, safely and responsibly, with regularity. I can be a bit uptight and a little bit of alcohol can really help me relax. I am generally a beer drinker, but I do enjoy a glass of red wine from time to time. Far less often I'll partake in liquor-- it generally doesn't suit me. And by "generally doesn't suit me" I mean that

  1. I generally start forgetting the events of the evening
  2. I wonder the next day what ridiculous things I may have said, and the volume at which I said them
  3. The liquor generally finds its way out of my body prematurely, via the oraface from whence I ingested it.
I find that wine and beer give me a more reliable and controllable buzz, and I get sick from them far less often.

Now, with that said, assuming all alcohol were the same, what would be the most frugal product for obtaining one's desired level of buzzedness? A good question, if you ask me. Being that I am writing a personal finance blog, a reader somewhere may like to have this information.

Being the resourceful soul that I am, I tracked down a website that can provide precisely that information: AlcoholShopper.com. This site provides the best bargains, in price per ounce of pure alcohol, throughout the US. It will even tell you which state this deal is in.

So, ounce for ounce, what is the best bang for your buck? Here are the tops in each category, in ascending order of price:
  1. Milwaukee's Best Ice (beer) , keg, $0.34 per ounce of alcohol
  2. Fairnoff (vodka), fifth, $0.38
  3. Icebox Really Hard Ice Tea (pre-mixed drink), 1/2 gal, $0.47
  4. Arrow Light (rum), 1L, $0.48
  5. Taaken (gin), 1/2 gal, $0.49
  6. Franzia (wine), 5L, $0.52
  7. Carstairs White Seal (whisky), 1/2 gal, $0.53
  8. Pancho Villa Rojo (liqeur), 1/2 gal, $0.59
  9. McCormick Old Style (bourbon), 1L, $0.62
  10. Gaetano Blackberry (brandy), 1L, $0.63
  11. Everclear (grain alcohol), fifth, $0.64
  12. Old Mr. Boston's Egg Nog (other), 1/2 gal, $0.67
  13. Barristers (scotch), 1L, $0.69
  14. Tribuno Sweet (vermouth), 1.5L, $0.74
  15. Tortilla Silver (tequila), 1L, $0.74
  16. Croizet (cognac), 200 mL, $1.31
So the most bang-for-your-buck comes from buying "The Beast" Ice in a keg, though this is easily the lowest alcohol-by-volume product in this list. In other words, it'll get you where you want to go, but be prepared to make a few bathroom stops along the way.

I am a little surprised at the result. First off, I thought Vodka would be far-and-away the cheapest, since you can get it cheap in large quantities and it is at least 40% alcohol in most cases. It was close, but The Beast beat its best price by a few pennies.

Also surprising is how far down the list grain alcohol is. After all, it's just super-pure vodka, essentially. It has no flavor of its own, so it should excel in a list like this-- where alcohol content is all that counts. But it seems to fail miserably. So next time you think it's a great idea to buy some Everclear to add some bang to a mixed beverage, forget it. Use vodka instead-- it's just over half the cost and will do exactly the same thing in your drinks.

What do you drink? How much does it cost? I drink cheap beers, generally (Miller Lite more than anything else-- according to this source it is 74 cents per ounce of alcohol in a keg). But I think I'd stop short of drinking something so nasty as The Beast, and especially something as ubernasty as The Beast Ice.

For what it's worth, the most expensive source of alcohol would be Mazzeti Grappa-chess Set, a brandy. $1,499.97 will buy you 50 mL-- a whopping $2,063 per ounce of alcohol, and nearly four times the cost of Courvoisier L'esprit cognac.

28 comments:

Beyond the Consumer said...

I drink scotch usually, which ends up being about $.80 an ounce or $1.62 per drink. Sometimes I go with Manhattans so I spend $1.17 per drink (2 oz bourbon and an ounce of vermouth).

Kevin said...

Alas, but my home bar has gained some notoriety in my area since I took up mixology as a hobby (Curse you Tiki Bar TV!).

My fridge is full of exotic (and not so exotic mixtures), my freezer has about 6 kinds of vodka, glassware and bar tools are everywhere, I use only fresh limes and lemons...

But my Floripolitan, Black Cherry Crantini, and Mai Tai recipes make me awfully popular!

Guess that limits my frugality options for alcohol, eh? Mmmm... mai tai... too bad I'm out of orgeat at the moment.

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