For many of us, summer is synonymous with a tall, cool cocktail on a sidewalk patio. But nothing escalates a restaurant bill more quickly than a succession of pricey alcoholic bevvies. With a little foresight and discipline, you can still enjoy that patio time without dropping a small fortune. Here are 6 tips for keeping your sipping and spending in check.
Alternate Alcoholic Drinks with Water
Cut down on costs and keep yourself from getting too tipsy by drinking one cocktail, then one glass of water. Another cocktail? Sure, just have another glass of water after it. And remember to stick to tap water — that San Pellegrino adds up too, you know.
Go Splitsies on the Food
Unless you are having a full-on meal, don’t go overboard with patio snacks. If you do need a bit of nourishment to go with that Seabreeze or Caesar, split an app with your drinking mate and plan on heading home for supper. Better still, go out after you’ve eaten; drinking on a full stomach is generally the wiser choice.
Look for Coupons or Deals
Always do a little online research to see if you can unearth a deal or two; chain restaurants will be most likely to offer deals or online coupons. Conversely, go to your favourite deal site, be it Groupon, Mealdeal, Wagjag or Teambuy, and let the deals themselves steer you to a particular patio.
Don’t Bring a Lot of Cash
Sure, it’s easy to pay by credit or debit nowadays. But if you bring a set amount of spending money (don’t forget to factor in the cost of your taxi!), you might be less likely to pull out your plastic once you’ve run through the paper. Want to be really disciplined? Leave the plastic cards at home, along with the temptation to spend.
Skip the Fancy Restaurant
Sometimes it’s a kick to head to a gorgeously appointed fine-dining establishment for chi-chi patio drinks. But remember: the prices you pay there will be substantially higher than your local casual watering hole. Is it really worth the monstrous tab for a little fancypants ambiance? You probably won’t think so once you get that credit card bill.
Take the Patio Spirit Home with You
If you own a blender and have access to a balcony or backyard, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t host your own patio party. Skip the overpriced drinks, invite your besties over, drop by the liquor and grocery stores and whip up some strawberry daiquiri. Tasty and cheap — and no waiting in line for a table.
Shelley White is a Canadian freelance writer, editor and TV producer who contributes regularly to The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post, The Grid and Spinner.com. Shelley is also a mother of two who aspires to never again carry a credit card balance.