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Bring the Bar to Your Home

Nancy Trejos

One of my favorite things to do on a summer evening is to sit outside and have cocktails with my friends after work. But hitting a bar a few times a week can be very costly in this town. Our intern Emma L. Carew has come up with some fabulous ideas for enjoying cocktails with your friends without going broke. Here they are:

The weather’s nice and there are tons of great drink specials. So it’s tempting to wander from bar to bar each night. But think about this: When you get home the next day and look at your receipts, you’ll probably wonder how you managed to rack up so many tabs.

One idea? Bring the bar crawl home. Sure, you can snuggle up with a case of cold ones for cheap but where’s the fun in that? Get more creative. Buy some booze, preferably in bulk for the cheapest results, and mix it up.

Invite over a few friends and have a happy-hour progressive. Instead of going house to house, or bar to bar, set up a few locales in your own home. Front porch stoop? Dining room lounge? Basement dive-bar? Whatever works. Make big batches of your favorite drinks for each “locale” and go to town. Either have each friend “sponsor” a drink, or have them chip in for the total cost of the evening. You’ll still end up paying way less than you would at the bar.

I like a big bucket of sangria. Buy whatever fruit is on sale that week (fresh or frozen) and a jug of red wine (I like the Carlo Rossi sangria). Let it marinate a couple of hours or overnight, and for less than $20 you’ve got a party for about eight, possibly more. An added bonus is that the fruit soaked in the wine makes a great snack, so it’s like a 2-for-1. Traditional recipes call for things like grenadine, brandy and a splash of orange juice. If you’ve got them on hand, by all means. But it’ll be cheaper, and just as tasty if you go without.

My colleague, features designer Allie Ghaman, likes the “pink panties” drink. Mix cheap beer, cheap vodka and pink lemonade mix with ice and serve. Here’s her recipe: Take six Miller Lite beers, 10 shots of Crystal Palace vodka, one can of frozen pink lemonade, then add water and ice to taste. Again, if you use cheap ingredients, you can drink for less than $20 and even snag a bag of pretzels or crackers to serve on the side.

Good luck, be safe, and let’s hear your ideas for fun punchbowl drinks at

By Nancy Trejos  |  August 6, 2009; 7:05 AM ET
Categories:  Bargains , Nancy Trejos  
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Got one and a piano, so for me it is always ragtime. I just met a nice country girl. She's got a four wheel drive clunker and I'm looking to get her out in some mud. Or maybe for her to get me out in the mud. We'll wait and see what happens and as always it should be interesting to be worthwhile. The city people are in the blood with a madcap leader. Clowns to the left and jokers to the right. The middle is muddy and the swamp is mysterious. How!

Posted by: Dermitt | August 6, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

You're just discovering the home bar? Home bars have been a standard feature in suburban homes for generations. My little bungalow on the water has a screened front porch full of candles, backyard with a picnic table, and my kitchen features a blender, icemaker in the fridge, and wine rack. I even have one of those metal wash tubs to fill with ice and beer. What more do you need for an after-work soiree with friends? If anybody overindulges they can always crash in the spare bedroom and not on the highway. The real meaning of friendship.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | August 6, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I love young people, they think they thought of everything first. I have friends that love to entertain, during the summer we head over to their house with our drink of choice and hang out on the front porch. When it gets cool, we light up the fire pit.

Posted by: zn123 | August 6, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

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