Cheap Cocktails for Students

Beatrice Howard on 15 March 2018
Cheap Cocktails for Students

No matter what they say... Everyone loves a cocktail, they taste like juice while getting you smashed, what's not to like? Here's our guide on how to make them on a student budget.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the student-budget-equivalent to cocktails is squadka or “whatever’s left from last time we hosted pre-drinks”, but with a few simple tips and recipes, you can make cocktails on the cheap and feel all classy (before you inevitably go out, get wasted, and end up vomming down an alleyway behind some bins).

A few hints to begin with.

  • You don’t need a fancy cocktail shaker, plastic ones are sold in pound shops and do just fine (you can pick up some cutesy little umbrellas and stirrers while you’re there).

  • Buying ice isn’t actually that bad of an idea… Ice cube trays are annoying, make very little ice, and most of what you make ends up on the floor when you try and extract it. You can get a whole bag of ice from supermarkets for £1, it’s definitely worth it, and means you can have ice-water when you’re hungover the next morning, which is just heaven.

  • If you’ve got lots of pals coming over, why not ask everyone to bring a different spirit (it can be a little bottle, and it can be own-brand, you’d never know), and you can just provide all the mixer, as that’s super cheap. Bonus, whoever hosts is inevitably left with a tonne of different ends-of-bottles, and won’t need to buy alcohol again for weeks.

  • Most of the recipes are in ml - measuring amounts that small in the jug you use to make gravy can prove tricky, but remember that a tablespoon is 15ml, so you can just measure by the spoon if it’s easier - accuracy isn’t enormously important in budget cocktail making.

Here are a few of our picks of simple, classic cocktails, that won’t break the bank.

Pina Colada

Feel like you’re on a tropical island when you’re probably in someone’s scrubby bit of back garden enduring a light drizzle… Getting caught in the rain isn’t as fun in real life eh?

The Recipe

  • 50ml White Rum

  • 50ml Coconut Cream

  • 50ml Pineapple Juice

Just pop it all in the shaker with some ice and shake it like a polaroid picture (no, honestly, put that song on in the background it seriously helps). For a super budget version, you can grab a pineapple coconut pre-mixed juice drink and it’ll work just as well.


Minty, refreshing, and mostly just rum… What more could you want in a cocktail?

The Recipe

  • Juice of 1 Lime

  • 1tbsp Sugar

  • 60ml White Rum

  • Soda Water

  • Mint Leaves (you can buy them pre-picked, or in the form of a little plant, but unless you’ve got your life together enough to tend a tiny mint plant, you’ll probably end up using it once, forgetting it, and watching it die)

Smush (yes, that’s the technical term) everything together in a glass (except the ice), using the end of a wooden spoon or rolling pin to “muddle” the mind leaves (that actually is the technical term). Then just pour it over ice. Crushed ice works best for this one, so you can either get creative with a heavy object and a sandwich bag, or see if one of your housemates has a blendactive - they’re PERFECT for crushing ice, but full disclosure; it might break. You can also use flavoured fizzy water if you want to change up your flavours - it’s usually insanely cheap in supermarkets.


They sound so fancy but are basically just champagne and peach nectar (students read: prosecco, and anything peach flavoured). I realise it’s a bit patronising to do a recipe for this one, but for the sake of formatting, here goes…

The Recipe

  • Prosecco

  • Peach juice/ Peach puree - really cheap in supermarkets, and surprisingly easily available in, what should be known as the backbone of this nation; the trusty corner shop.

Yeah just fill a glass with prosecco and splash in a bit of peach-stuff. Shove in a couple of raspberries if you fancy really splashing out.


Salt around the edge of a glass always feels so fancy. Extra bonus, you probably already have salt! And I can tell you from experience, this kind of works on a mug… In a pinch… Triple sec is a bit of an odd thing to buy, but you don’t need too much of it so a bottle will last for ages.

The Recipe

  • 15ml Triple Sec

  • 50ml Tequila

  • Juice of 1 Lime

  • Salt (for glass edging)

Shove it all in the shaker and you’re good to go. See, told you this cocktail making lark was easy peasy.


Ok, this is probably the hardest one on the list, and it’ still super easy. The recipe calls for sugar syrup, but you can make that yourself by putting sugar and water (in a 2:1 ratio) in a pan and melting it.

The Recipe

  • 50ml White Rum

  • 35ml Lime Juice

  • 4tsp Sugar Syrup

Once again, in your shaker, with the ice, and go go go! When I said it was the hardest… I only meant the whole melting sugar into water fiasco. This recipe’s really fun to customise, so why not replace some of the rum with a flavoured liqueur (ask your Mum if she’s got any lying around next time you go home), or mush up some fruit - if you had a housemate who has a blendactive, they probably also have frozen fruit in the freezer… Just saying…

So go forth... Look classy... Get drunk, and one final word of advice, hold the lid on the cocktail shaker while you shake... I speak from experience, daiquiris are not as fun when you're trying to get them off the ceiling...

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Beatrice Howard
Beatrice Howard on 15 March 2018