Everything but the Drain: Low Budget Cocktail Substitutions

by / Monday, 25 April 2016 / Published in Cocktails & Recipes, Drinking DIY, Random Ravings

This day and age, it’s nearly impossible to be young without being resourceful. There is a short cut or alternative to everything in life, and delicious cocktails are no exception. Maybe the weather is bad. Maybe you forgot an essential ingredient and the nearest store is twenty minutes away. Maybe you’re just plain lazy. Either way, satisfying a cocktail craving can be a hindrance your plans for the evening if you don’t know how to improvise. Here are some cheap, tasty, and thirst-quenching alternatives for common cocktails that you likely already have in your kitchen.


Old Fashioned (Whiskey)

Nothing beats a beautifully crafted Old Fashioned, but sometimes you are just plain out of whiskey. Technically, the history of this classic cocktail indicates that it can be made with any spirit just as long as it contains sugar, water, and bitters. Check your stock for unused rum or gin for a surprisingly delightful variation, and possibly your new favorite drink.


Triple Sec

Triple Sec is an orange liqueur commonly found in margaritas, cosmopolitans, Long Island iced teas, and many others. A worthy sub for Triple Sec would be anything fruity such as maraschino, pomegranate liqueur, and even that untouched peach Schnapps.


Sour Mix

The citrus characteristics of sour mix make it easy to replace, much like Triple Sec, with anything fruity. It is also incredibly easy to make your own sour mix with sugar, water, and lemon or lime. Just combine equal parts sugar with two parts citrus, reduce it down on the stove, refrigerate, and  you’ve got one juicy mixer.



You have everything to concoct a julep or Moscow Mule except for the one thing that makes it stand out– the mint. Try swapping fresh basil, rosemary, or another herb for a botanical masterpiece.


White Russian

The Big Leboswki popularized the classic White Russian for the younger generation, and that is a craving that demands attention. Typically comprised of cream, coffee liqueur and vodka, ingredients can be easily replaced with fresh brewed (and chilled) coffee or instant espresso packets along with milk or any non-dairy alternative to better settle your stomach.

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