Here's the thing, dear readers: We get that the world of mixology is well, a little convoluted. And complicated. And downright stressful for the inexperienced and well, penny-pinching cocktail lover. What's a guy or gal to do if you can't afford the fabulous cocktails you see on your Instagram, Twitter, blogs, and general food porn? (No, just us?)
That's why we particularly love Elana Lepkowski, her cocktail blog Stir and Strain, and her series dedicated to the "low-rent" cocktails. What does that entail? Some cocktails you never thought you'd be drinking after the age of 19 — er, 21. Cocktails made with some outrageously insane, but cheap, ingredients that will surprise you. After all, Lepkowski has no poor taste in cocktails (her blog was recently just named one of Serious Eats' best cocktail blogs).
So why does Lepkowski use ingredients like Emergen-C or a PBR in her cocktails? "The Low-Rent Cocktails came to fruition one night discussing college-age cocktail recipes," Lepkowski says. "My husband is not a cocktail writer, but years ago he offered up a weekly 'low-rent cocktail' recipe for his college paper. Only half a joke, the recipes were tacky, budget-conscious, and unashamedly lazy."
With her husband's permission, Lepkowski riffed on the idea to come up with some cheap, easy, and surprisingly delicious cocktails. "I’ve borrowed and continued the concept as a service for those who have never owned a bar spoon, a julep strainer, or a bottle of bitters; for the sort whose liquor cabinet starts at Malibu Rum, ends at Popov Vodka, and has nothing in between," she says. After all: "When you can’t be bothered to make a good drink... well, you still need a drink."
Think it's impossible to make a good cocktail on a budget? Lepkowski just might surprise you. Click ahead to see Lepkowski's "low-rent cocktails" — who knows, you may just be inspired to whip up a cocktail tonight, you cocktail newbies.