Summer trips to beer gardens and bar gatherings can put a serious dent in your wallet. So why not have a party at home and make mojitos for less than $1 a pop? You're not gonna find that kind of happy hour anywhere.
Regular bar prices for this refreshing, citrusy and minty summer drink can be between $6 and $14, depending on the bar. Here’s how to gather the goods, make them yourself on the cheap and have plenty to go around.
In general, the key to smart shopping is buying in bulk. That’s also the case when it comes to liquor. If you’re having a party, the bigger the bottle, the better. One 1.75 liter bottle of Bacardi Silver, for example, can be significantly cheaper than two smaller bottles.
You’re likely to get a decent, 1.75-liter bottle of rum for about $25, and much less for cheaper brands. Buying liquor online can be tricky, however, or it may not even be allowed in your state, but if you’re a comparison shopper, go straight for the stores that you know have good prices or check discount liquor stores. Some Costco (Stock Quote: COST) stores sell liquor as well.
Cost per drink: About 42 cents for one ounce of middle-shelf rum, like Bacardi.
Common limes are the Persian type, and the best ones should be dark green, firm and heavy for their size, according to Robert Schueller, a spokesman for Melissa’s, a produce importer. Limes may be cheaper at a fruit stand or a store that specializes in produce. Over the summer, limes are about five for $1 on average, according to Melissa’s.
Cost per drink: About 10 cents for half a juicy lime.
A necessary ingredient in a mojito for its cooling sensation, mint can be grown at home. (Find helpful growing tips here.) A mint plant will run you about $3 to $5, and they grow fast. One plant could provide the mint for hundreds of mojitos. If your thumbs aren't too green, mint will cost you between $2.99 and $3.49 for a bunch at the grocery store. Grab the biggest bunch you can find.
Cost per drink: About 29 cents for one sprig of store-bought mint.
You don’t need to get fancy turbinado or superfine sugar for a big batch of mojitos, so stick to the cheap stuff. At the grocery store, you can get a five-pound bag of granulated sugar for about $4.
Cost per drink: About 2 cents per teaspoon.
Unlike tonic water, which contains sugar, quinine and fruit extracts, club soda and seltzer are just carbonated water and they’re virtually the same. If cost is your main concern, go for whatever is the cheapest. You’re likely to find a two-liter bottle of seltzer for about $1.50 at your local grocery store, or for a bit more at a convenience store or bodega.
Cost per drink: About 4 cents for two ounces of seltzer.
Grand total: 58 cents if you grow your own mint, and 87 cents if you don't.
Mixing It Up:
In addition to all the ingredients above, you’ll want plenty of ice. For the sake of being cheap, we’ll assume you’re making it yourself.
Mash the sugar, limes and mint together with a muddler or other blunt object. Add ice, one ounce rum and two ounces seltzer and stir.
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