Usually alcohol gets whacked from a budget-conscious shopping list. But you can still imbibe in style with some money-saving tips.

Usually alcohol gets whacked from a budget-conscious shopping list. But you can still imbibe in style with some money-saving tips.

Brews that fit your budget

Beer by the keg is cheaper per ounce, but that doesn’t guarantee a bargain, says Marleigh Riggins Miller, the publisher of amateur mixology blog Sloshed. You probably need to invest in a Kegerator to keep your keg cold, plus there are space and power considerations that make it impractical.

Consider buying by the keg when you're going to have company.

"A keg is definitely the most cost-effective option — if it will all be consumed," says entertaining expert Denise McDonald, who owns the shop Wish in Rye, N.Y.

Other ways to cut cost: Skip bottled beer and look for a bargain in cans. And if you have a preference for a specific variety of beer, look around for something brewed locally.

Corked savings

You can enjoy a nice glass of wine or share a good bottle with friends without busting your budget — as long as you're armed with some key information.

First, don't think you need to spend a lot.

"An inexpensive wine can very often taste as good, if not better, than an expensive wine," McDonald says.

McDonald suggests choosing a domestic wine, although wines from Australia and South America also offer high quality at reasonable prices. California wines are a great buy. Look for table wines and blends in the $10 range, Miller says.

Mix it up

For cocktails, McDonald and Miller both urge you to stay away from expensive commercial mixes from the grocery store. Your wallet and your palate will be better off with fresh juices, soda or seltzer as cocktail mixers. Using these with a good vodka or rum will make a terrific and budget-friendly drink, McDonald says.

Or make your own mix. Here's Miller's recipe for fresh homemade daiquiris and margaritas:

Shake 2 ounces of white rum with 3/4 ounce of lime juice and 1/4 ounce of simple syrup (sugar dissolved in an equal part of water) or sugar. Strain it into a glass and you have a lovely, easy daiquiri. For a margarita, shake 1 1/2 ounces tequila with 3/4 ounce Cointreau or triple sec and 3/4 ounce lime juice. Strain into a glass rimmed with salt. You can serve it with or without ice.

GateHouse News Service