Budget Cocktails

8th January 2024

Jump to

Now that the Thanksgiving turkey has all been eaten, the Christmas crackers have all been pulled, and the New Year’s celebrations are over, it is easy to get caught up in the misery that is January. Indeed, the 26th January 2015 is known as Blue Monday: the most depressing day of the year.
Thanks to blowing our budgets at the end of last year, eating our weight in food, and downing far too many drinks, January can be a tough month to get through. The last Monday before payday is when we feel the pinch the most. Luckily, I have put together a list of cheap and easy cocktails that you can make to cheer yourself up, without worrying about the pennies. The thing that they all have in common is that they only need a few ingredients.


Put 60ml gin and 10ml vermouth into a mixer glass. Stir with ice and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an olive. This drink can be as cheap or expensive as you choose, depending on the quality of the gin used.


Pour 50ml peach juice into a cocktail glass and top up with sparkling wine. Of course, it tastes better with champagne, but a cheap bottle of fizz will do till payday.

Black Russian

Have a lowball glass ready loaded with ice. Pour 50ml vodka and 25ml Kahlua over the top. Top up with cheap cola to make the drink last a bit longer.

Gin and Tonic

Everyone’s Nan’s favorite drink. One shot of gin topped up with tonic water and garnished with either lemon or lime. If you can’t stand cheap gin, swap it for vodka.

Rum and Coke

Rum is one of the cheapest spirits available. A shot of rum topped up with cheap cola and smartened up with a lime wedge is sure to make you feel better about your empty wallet.

Kir Royale

Technically this drink should be made with champagne. But it is January. So substitute the bubbles for some cheap, dry white wine. Add a shot of crème de cassis to give it a more interesting flavor.

Lemon Drop Martini

The recipe on this website uses triple sec, but you are poor, remember! Instead, put 50ml vodka, 50ml lemon juice and a tablespoon of sugar in a shaker and mix together. Pour into a martini glass and top up with cheap lemonade.

Malibu Apple Juice

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add a shot of Malibu and top up with apple juice. A wedge of apple finishes this drink off nicely. It won’t get you very drunk but it will sweeten your sour mood.

Poor Man’s Dark and Stormy

This drink is made with a shot of rum, a dash of lime juice and is topped up with ginger ale. After pay day you can substitute the ale for ginger beer.


If you are really struggling this month, stick to the cheapest larger and cider you can find and mix them in equal parts. If you can stretch to a blackcurrant cordial, do it. It will help mask the cheap flavor.

Pardon the interruption

Did you know that you can become a member for free, taking your cocktail making skills up to level 11. You can save your My Bar ingredients, make tasting notes, have personalised Tried and Want to try lists and more.

More to explore

How fattening is your favourite cocktail?

Isn’t it frustrating how cocktail season and ‘I-must-get-my-summer-beach-body-ready’ season fall at...

To Shake or To Stir? What's the Difference?

The art of cocktail making is far more complicated than experienced bartenders would have you believ...

The Definitive Guide to Mastering the Iconic Whiskey Sour Cocktail

Ah, the Whiskey Sour – a timeless classic that has graced bars and cocktail lounges for over 150 yea...

Bartender's top tip

The key to a great cocktail is balance. Ensure that the sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and alcohol are in harmony. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible, and don't be shy about adjusting the proportions to suit your taste. For instance, if you find a drink too sour, add a bit more sweetener, or if it's too sweet, balance it with a bit of citrus or bitters.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get tips straight into your inbox.