Trader Joes Can you return unused wine

14 ways to get more bang for your buck

Drinking is expensive! Or at least, if you do it with style and dedication. If your only goal is to get charged while spending as little as possible then you are likely in danger but also in luck. The rise of juicy alco-pop (Four Loko and the like) means there has never been a better time to be smart about a taco change. But it can get expensive if you want to enjoy the ride.

That's awful, but probably the best. Life becomes difficult when your favorite vice to are accessible. Take a look at where we got underpriced oil, heroin, and chicken nuggets from. I can accept the self-regulatory benefits of having our wallets feel our hangover as much as our poor, dead brains, but that doesn't mean we should forfeit our financial duties at the bar or liquor store. Here are 14 tips to help you stretch your alcohol dollar so you can afford to pickle your liver in flavor for the rest of your dwindling days.

1. Buy in bulk. BevMo sells Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 6-packs for $ 10, 12-packs for $ 19, and full 24-bottle sleeves for $ 29. The 12-pack discount isn't anything special, but the case price basically says, "Buy three sixes, get one for free - plus a dollar!" The tricky part here is that you have to get involved: you have to either drink it all at once or eat yogurt at room temperature while the beer is dominating your fridge.

Wine offers similar opportunities and challenges. Finding a store willing to shed 10 or even 20 percent off the top when buying 12 bottles at a time isn't hard to find. This is great when you have a favorite wine and a place to keep it all. For example, if your wine cellar is the hot and rattling top of your refrigerator, your 20 percent wine is at risk of losing 40 percent of its value before you drink it.

But good news: the schnapps won't let you down! Hard alcohol has a virtually indefinite lifespan, doesn't take up much space, and can be safely stored anywhere your cousin Jeff is unlikely to be looking. BevMo charges $ 40 for a 750ml bottle of Eagle Rare, but only $ 61 for the 1.75L version. That means that with 50 percent more money, you get 133 percent more bourbon.

2. Do the design of the math in bars. Bigger isn't always cheaper when it comes to draft beer, however. Bar prices tend to be more dispersive than retail prices, probably because the built-in profit margin is so high that bars don't feel compelled to break out the abacus every time they change the menu. For some reason, it's not uncommon to find a place selling different sizes of the same draft beer at misaligned prices. If a pint (16 ounce) of Bud Light is $ 4, don't be persuaded to pay $ 6 for the 23-ounce monster Brewski from Jumbo Tough Guy. At this rate, you're giving away an ounce of beer to make the bartender's job easier and to limit your flexibility.

However, don't be afraid to sacrifice a little savings per ounce by reducing the size. I'm all for maximizing my beer pennies, but there's no value in being bullied by the obsession with unit prices when you're happier with a half pint of $ 3.50. It is not unreasonable for a bar to charge a light tariff in order to maintain the freedom to jump around the menu with shorter casts. Figure out how the math breaks down, but don't let it run for your life.

3. Beware of oversized beer bottles. Many really extraordinary beers are only available in the 750 ml cork cage format. This isn't always the most convenient package, but there is simply no other way to drink Allagash Curieux (Drunkspin's favorite beer of all time, by the way) in the misery of your own home. But be careful if you overpay for a 22-ounce bomber of a beer, which may be a little easier to come by. BevMo sells the Stone Enjoy By IPA line for $ 8.50 per 22-ounce bottle, down from $ 19 per 12-ounce six-pack. That's 50 percent more per ounce (39 cents to 26 cents) for the large bottle.

If you settle for a monster bottle and don't want to drink it all at once, you don't have to force it or waste the unused part anyway. If you are careful not to damage the cap when removing it, you can simply put it back on the bottle and refrigerate the leftovers again after you have poured yourself the portion you want. That doesn't create a perfect seal, but it'll get you through pretty well until the next day. These wine stopper things work too.

4. Take advantage of inefficiencies. Amtrak is probably America's best bar. Down the Northeast Corridor, you can get a bottle of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA for $ 8. Not bad for a good beer when in captivity! But if you're a wino, stick with the $ 6.50 single serving rather than the $ 16 half bottle (double serving). Even if they are different wines (it varies) they are all just training Hooch. So it's hard to imagine that it makes sense to pay 2.5 times more for twice as much wine.

5. Check the beer freshness data. IPAs in particular lose their shine relatively quickly. They never go “bad” in the sense of chunky milk, but the hops often begin to fade within a month of being bottled. And if you see a half-price summer beer in March, this is likely not a special introductory price for the new model.

6. But do close stock for winter warmers if that's what you're into. Some styles age better than others. If your local business is dying to clear out the pumpkin beers to make room for Christmas items on November 1st, then get some inexpensive nutmeg brews! Most of them will be no worse in January than they were in September.

7. Order a Manhattan. Or an old-fashioned one, or a Sazerac, or a Negroni, or some other drink that isn't diluted by non-alcoholic additives, except maybe a dash of syrup or a cube of sugar. Do not reflexively reject the high price of a cocktail in the bar. They are often served in oversized pitchers that appear to be relics of the Appletini era, when drinks with all sorts of juices, sodas, and related nonsense were served in giant cocktail glasses. It's all right if you pay $ 13 for 4 ounces of good rye, 2 ounces of sweet vermouth, and a luxury cherry.

8. Don't overlook generics. Trader Joe doesn't own a brewery - he pays someone else to make beer for him and sometimes he accidentally pays a talented brewer to make good beer for a short buck. The Stockyard Oatmeal Stout, for example, is downright enjoyable, and the Providential Golden Ale brewed by the Quebecois magicians Unibroue is even better. Sure, Charles Shaw's $ 3 wines (and their Whole Foods equivalents) are a bit of a junk, but they are eminently sangible, which is all you can ask for at the price. Even 7-Eleven used to make a drinkable sip called Game Day Ice, and I've heard that there are some relative gems hidden in Costco's Kirkland branded beer range.

9. Avoid the recommended beer of the day unless it's on sale. Otherwise, it's likely an overstock. This is fine when it comes to the happy hour special. However, if it's listed at full price and labeled "the bartender's choice," it most likely means either the vendor is pushing the bar - which is fine but you don't care - or it's a musty slow seller, that you absolutely want to unload.

10. Never buy Corona. If you like the taste of unadulterated corona, you are a crazy person who cannot be trusted with alcohol or money. However, many sane and sensible people have fond memories of Corona filled with lime, and these fine folks are better off shoving limes down the throats of the cheapest, palest lager they can find. Pabst and Limette taste better than Corona and Limette, and you save a dollar a bottle.

11. Take care of the mixer. A screwdriver has at least twice as much orange juice as vodka, which is why it is cheaper and tastier to use freshly squeezed juice and plastic jugs than frozen OJ and gray goose. There is often more variability between good and bad mixers than between good and bad spirits.

12. If in doubt, get the doorman. Almost every brewery can pull off a tolerable stout or porter because roasted malt hides defects. I've had some godly pale ales, but I can't remember a stout worse than a C-plus.

13. Drink wine on boats. Or some other bohemian setting where a semi-professional bartender is trusted to pour freely from full size bottles. Many ferries and the like fill that void by serving wine in miniature bottles, but those who are unlikely to sell you a good eight ounces for the price of five because civilians always pour over at home and see five scanty ounces in a 16-ounce plastic cup like that lonely out. Your server doesn't have the same leeway to crack a bottle of beer or fill a pint. Hence, wine is the best choice to beat the system.

14. Start at the top. If bloggers had a resume, my first line would be, “I've had a bottle of Regal Rye from Goose Island Bourbon County in my fridge since the day after Thanksgiving. I can be trusted. “However, this is a rare sign of reluctance. Too much of the good stuff I want to save for a special occasion gets desperately soaked up on a normal old, half-soaked Wednesday night when I run out of both Schlitz and the ambition to buy more. So if you have your eye on the scotch trophy shelf as soon as you step into the bar, order it for your second drink. Let a beer do some thought so you can decide if you're really ready for it, and if so, act before it's too late. Lots of booze snobs say Johnnie Walker Blue is overrated, but no one really knows because we're all too cheap to drop the $ 40 until we're too laid back to try it. Fix that.

Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain .

Image by Tara Jacoby.

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