Livin' La Vida Lucia

Bottled Cocktails for a College Budget

Acceptable Already-Mixed Alcoholic Beverages

By: Lucia Rossi

College life can become pretty time consuming and can cause some serious stress. You have class, work, clubs, homework, exams, internships, relationships and responsibilities that can lay on the pressure kind of thick.


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

While all of this may not leave so much time for partying, especially with loans that burn through your wallet, sometimes, having a glass at home can be the perfect little pick-me-up. Wine may be just fine, but what if you want to give yourself the feeling of a bar cocktail without the price or crowd?dasha-4

Of course, there is nothing better than a freshly mixed, juicy cocktail made by your favorite hot bartender but we do what we gotta do and work with what we got.

Ready-to-drink cocktails have a bad reputation for their little to no alcohol content, high amount of sugar, and fruity flavored infusions but that’s why it’s useful to develop an eye for the good, bad, and straight up disgusting.

Summer cocktails with pieces of fruit on wooden table. Blur beach on background

After going through websites such as The Loop, Vancouversun, Women’s Health, Eater, and Delish, I’ve created categories of drinks and what came up in each one so that you can find the drinks you love in ready-to-pour form.

The rum category had a few promising choices like Malibu Rum Sparkler and Parrot Bay Blended Mudslide, which was the best rated creamy alcoholic beverage of its kind. Cuca Caipirinha stood out as a Brazilian Rum mix with natural sugar and won the award for best ready-to-drink cocktail from 2009 International Spirits Review.bwhtpopiaaak4ly

If you’re a tea and lemonade lover, there are few options for you. There’s Hooper’s Cloudy Lemonade, Daily’s Frozen Light Pink Lemonade that come in $1.99 pouches, Tea Twisters which are low calorie at 100 cal. per 6 oz., and the Charbay Green Tea Apertif which is a tea-infused wine cocktail with a hint of brandy.dailys-original-pouches

Jose Cuervo dominated the margarita category with their Golden Margarita and Strawberry Lime Margarita, although, Sauza’s Sparkling Margarita is also a favorable choice. Both of which run at affordable prices per bottle at $10-20 depending on the size.

It’s hard to find a good pina colada, but the top picks were Bacardi’s Pina Colada, and Parrot Bay Frozen Pina Colada at $1.99 per pouch.

When it came to mojito’s, Bacardi was also recommended although claimed to be a hit or miss among reviewers. Mojitos are relatively cheap to make though if you have limes, sugar, soda water, mint and ice. So, that may be the better option in this case.6a00d8358081ff69e201630693a24c970d-800wi

Where there’s Sangria there are so many options. My family personally loves the Carlo Rossi brand of Sangria but that’s probably because we share the same last name. If you’re feeling fruity and girly, then Girl’s Night Out Sangria is a highly rated option from Canada that’s worth a try.

Canada is also picking up in the spritzer category with Palm Bay Key Lime Cherry spritzers at $12 a pack. If you’d like to get a little fancier, Fresita is a Chilean sparkling wine created with handpicked strawberries for about the same price.

Alright “Sex and the City” fans, let’s talk cosmopolitans. From the websites, drinkers either loved or hated Smirnoff’s Grand Cosmopolitan that contains 15% alcohol and is around $18. Malibu Caribbean Cosmo was also a contender at around the same price point.

For the men who adore whiskey and brandy in its classical form, Fluid Dynamics is the brand for you. This brand has a variety of mixes that age in oak barrels like the Rye Manhattan, or The St. Nick. High West Distillery also came up with a barreled Manhattan called The 36th vote. od-ba602_bottle_gr_20140115160512

While Manhattans are in pricier bottles depending on the size at above $20, there is always the laziest drink you could have and that’s the Jack Daniel’s cola. It’s literally jack and coke already mixed; it doesn’t get simpler than that.20110425jrtd

If you’re an old-fashioned drinker with a taste for Old-Fashioned cocktails, then try Slow & Low’s Rock and Rye which is a mix of whiskey, honey, rock candy, and citrus. You could also try The Old-Fashioned cocktail from The Handmade Cocktail Co. which makes great Mezcal as well.

You can’t go wrong with the classic cranberry vodka, but if you’re even lazier than that and want to make an ecological difference along the way, then Om is your answer. Om stands for Organic Mixology and their drink is Cranberry Blood Orange, which is vodka based and eco-friendly because they use recycled glass and plant a tree in Haiti for every purchase you make. It’s pricey at $30 a bottle but organic life is always more

If you love a good ole’ Italian Bellini, then perhaps try Canella’s Bellini or Smirnoff’s Ice Peach Bellini. Or, if you want to get more into the winter spirit as fall progresses, then maybe try Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack Tennessee Cider. It’s made with apple liqueur and spices. Eat your heart out pumpkin spice!

In warmer months, if you want to feel like a kid again, there are pre-mixed “poptails” made by Slim Chillers called Skinny Freezers. They come in Cosmopolitan, Watermelon Lemonade, Appletini, and Lemon Drop. Be sure to keep away from children and not mix them up with their non-alcoholic freezer pops.54f66a623342b_-_bottled-cocktails-poptails-s2-del0714

There are brands that have a wide variety that dip into all different categories of drinks if you want to explore and pour. There’s Coppa Cocktails, UV Vodka Cocktails, and Buzzballz which are small but pack a punch with their high alcohol content. This is especially useful if you love fruity flavors.54f66a63c539c_-_bottled-cocktails-buzzballz-s2-del0714

Lastly, my personal favorite among pre-made mixed drinks and the reoccurring winner among the sangria, margarita and cosmo category is the brand Skinnygirl. It’s everything you want in an at-home, ready-to-pour, mixed drink. It’s very affordable at about $14 a bottle, it comes in many flavors and types, and it’s low in calorie. It’s just a godsend for college students everywhere and a must-have in case of stressful or partying emergencies.o-skinnygirl-facebook

If you plan on going rogue and want to do your own booze hunt, there are some things you should remember.

Firstly, you get what you pay for. If a large bottle is pricey, just remember how many times you’ll be drinking from it and enjoying it. You will also be paying for better ingredients, so always check for what artificial ingredients are used. The more fresh the ingredients, the better the taste. While you’re looking at the label, check the alcohol content. You don’t want to go home disappointed realizing you bought a mixer with none of that liquid courage. You may want to avoid creamy mixes, except for the mudslide, and the oversized quantities. The bigger in size that it is and creamier in consistency, the farther away you might be from feeling like you have the real thing.

Although you’re aiming for convenience, there are risks with ready-to-drink cocktails but take it as a personal challenge and it will be that much sweeter when you take that savory first sip.

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