These Are The Cheapest Drinking Cities In The U.S.
Here's where you can save while you sip.
With the summer vacation season nearly upon us, you might have two things on your mind: choosing a destination and planning your budget. And if you’re the type of person who likes to celebrate time away from work with an adult beverage or three, you’re going to want to take a look at this survey before you continue with your trip planning.
Drink prices vary all over the country. To find out where you should go to get the cheapest drinks (or maybe you’re super lucky and already live there!) Wanderu, a website where travelers can find, compare and book tickets, took a look at drink prices around the country and figured out the top places to drink if you’re looking to save some cash.
Their full methodology was surprisingly in depth, but basically, Wanderu analyzed categories like cheapest cocktail, pint of beer and bottle of wine, plus the amount of cheap but high-quality bars in the area. They then gave the cities an overall score from cheapest to most expensive, combining all the drinks and number of bars in the individual categories. Here are the cheapest drinking cities they found in the U.S.
25. Portland, Oregon
Portland, the most expensive city on the list, is still pretty cheap compared to some of the cities that didn’t make the cheapest list. While a cocktail will cost you an average of $11, a pint of beer is only $5.62 on average, and wine is $12.43 a bottle. If you’re looking for a store-bought beer instead, that’s around $2.10.
You’ll also find a whopping 1,400 cheap but quality bars in the city, where you might want to order a Sloe Gin Fizz, as the drink appears in a Loretta Lynn song called “Portland, Oregon“. Or, try a Negroni at the bar Clyde Common, which features a combination of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari mellowed for two months in bourbon barrels.
If you’re heading to Houston, you might want to check out The Pastry War, where you’ll find an interesting margarita choice — strawberry balsamic. (The first frozen margarita machine was created in Dallas, so a fun margarita flavor in another Texas city makes perfect sense.)
The average price of a cocktail (which includes margaritas) is $10 in Houston, with a pint of beer going for $5.13. A bottle of wine will cost you around $13 on average, and store-bought beer is $2.33. You’ll find 1,248 cheap but high-quality bars in the area.
Cleveland takes the 23rd spot on the list, with cocktails coming in at $10 on average and a pint of beer costing $4.04. A bottle of wine is around $13.50 and store-bought beer costs $2.34. There are fewer cheap but high-quality bars here than in the other cities we’ve already mentioned, but you’ll still have 690 places to check out.
While at one of the more than 600 bars, you might want to order a Buckeye Martini, which is a simple mix of gin, dry vermouth and black olives. If you want something more unique, head to the Porco Lounge & Tiki Room for a Painkiller, which is a rum-coconut-pineapple-orange concoction that has you select potency increments of one, two or three.
22. Colorado Springs, Colorado
While in Colorado Springs, try ordering a Colorado Bulldog, which is like a White Russian, but bubbly. You might also want to try a Snowball (a mix of vodka, Fresca and lime juice), which Buzzfeed named Colorado’s signature cocktail. However, the craft beer boom is still going strong here, so maybe try a local brew.
Cocktails in Colorado Springs have an average price of $9, with a pint of beer going for $5.17. A bottle of wine is $12 and store-bought beer is around $2.03. Colorado Springs is a smaller city than many of the others on this list, thus it has fewer bars. You’ll only find 185 cheap but high-quality bars in the city.
21. Oklahoma City
If you live in or are heading to Oklahoma City, you might want to head to S&B Burger, where you can order their signature drink called King Bloody Mary, which comes complete with pickled okra.
At $11 for a cocktail and $12 for a bottle of wine, Oklahoma City is on the higher end when it comes to cocktails and wine, but beer is pretty cheap at $4.80 for a pint and $1.75 for store-bought. You’ll find 294 cheap but high-quality bars in the area.
20. Fort Worth, Texas
Another city in Texas that also made the list is Fort Worth, where a cocktail will cost you $11, a pint of beer is $5.06, wine is $12 a bottle and store-bought beer is $1.69. You’ll find 560 cheap but high-quality bars in the area, where you can order up a drink said to be created in the state — The Mexican Martini.
The drink usually includes tequila, Cointreau orange liqueur, sweet and sour mix, lime juice, orange juice and Sprite. Sometimes, you can also find it with olives and even the olive brine from the jar.
Milwaukee takes the 19th spot with $10 cocktails, $12 wine, $4.69 pints of beer and $2.04 for store-bought beer. There are 720 cheap but high-quality bars in the city.
While in Wisconsin, you might want to order an old fashioned. You can get this classic drink anywhere, but they’re made with a surprising ingredient here. Though the drink is usually made with whiskey, in Wisconsin, they often use brandy instead.
Chicago is a great city to visit for a ton of reasons, and now you can add wallet-friendly drinking to the list, too. While the drinks are a bit on the high side with $14 cocktails, $12 bottles of wine, $4.75 pints of beer and $1.73 bottles of store-bought beer, there are a whopping 2,254 cheap but quality bars in the city, which is why Chicago is the 16th city on the list.
While in the city, make sure you head to Big Bar inside the Hyatt Regency, where you’ll find a variety of Chicago-themed cocktails like the “Chicago Fire”, “Frank Lloyd Wright” and “Al Capone Smash.”
17. Louisville, Kentucky
It’s the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby, so you have to order a mint julep if you’re heading to Lousiville. While you can definitely get a mint julep at the Derby in Louisville, you can also order it at one of 308 cheap but high-quality bars in the area.
Cocktails are also pretty cheap there, with the average price being just $8. A pint of beer will cost you $4.17, a bottle of wine is $12 and a store-bought beer is $2.50.
16. New Orleans
You may be surprised by this because New Orleans is such a popular destination for drinking, but the city has pretty cheap drinks. With 686 cheap but high-quality bars in the city, you’ll pay an average of $10 for a cocktail, $12.50 for a bottle of wine, $5.23 for a pint of beer and $1.59 if you buy beer at the store.
While you’ll no doubt find a ton of interesting cocktails in the city, you might want to order a Sazerac, which is said to have not only originated in New Orleans, but also be America’s first cocktail, created all the way back in 1838. A standard Sazerac combines sugar, rye whiskey or bourbon, bitters and Herbsaint (an anise-flavored liqueur) and lemon peel.
15. Fresno, California
Fresno, California takes the 15th spot on the list with pretty cheap drinks, but not many cheap but high-quality bars. With only 100 bars in the area, you won’t have as much variety as other places on the list, but cocktails are only $9 and a pint of beer is $4.53. A bottle of wine isn’t super cheap at $12, and store-bought beer is a little more than some places at $2.
While you’re in California, though, it doesn’t hurt to sample the local wares, and Fresno has several wine bars where you can taste California wines.
14. St. Louis
Drink prices are a bit higher in St. Louis than they are in some other cities on the list, but you’ll have 810 cheap but high-quality bars to choose from. While a bottle of wine costs $12 and store-bought beer is $2.06, a pint of beer is $4.55 and a cocktail is just $10.
The city has long been home to the king of beers, but if you want to drink more than Budweiser while you’re in town, consider ordering a Sandinista shot, which mixes tequila, Sirarcha and lime juice. A local radio host claims to have invented it.
13. Omaha, Nebraska
You’ll find 352 cheap but high-quality bars in Omaha, where cocktails average $10, a pint of beer averages $4.68, wine costs $12 a bottle and you can get store-bought beer for $1.69.
One local food and drink writer even noted that some of Omaha’s best bars — places that have “mixologists” instead of bartenders — have reasonably priced cocktails, so it’s no wonder the city comes in at No. 13 on this list.
As Detroit pushes to shake its reputation as a city in decline, innovative restauranteurs, artists and entrepreneurs have drawn a fresh spotlight on tourism to this city. And it turns out, you can drink pretty cheap there, too. Motor City may not have the lowest average price of a cocktail at $11, but wine is just $11 a bottle, a pint of beer will cost you an average of $4.47 and store-bought beer is $2.
Michigan is known for having some pretty amazing wineries and breweries, so there is no shortage of wine and beer in the state. If cocktails are more your thing, try ordering The Hummer, which is said to have been created in Detroit at the Bayview Yacht Club. There are multiple variations of the drink, but it usually is made up of rum, Kahlúa and vanilla ice cream. Yum!
11. San Antonio
If you like cheap wine, head to San Antonio, where it’s only around $10 a bottle. Cocktails are also $10, while a pint of beer is $4.46 and store-bought beer is $2.13. You’ll also find 630 cheap but high-quality bars in the area.
While there, you might want to order a Call Me, Honey cocktail, which was the signature drink for the 2019 San Antonio Cocktail Conference. Along with honey syrup, it also calls for vodka, lemon juice, orange juice, cinnamon powder and a green cardamom pod. You might not be able to find it at every bar though, so here’s the recipe if you want to try it yourself.
10. Tulsa, Oklahoma
If cocktails top your list of favorite drinks, you definitely want to head to Tulsa, where they are only $8. Wine is $11.50 a bottle, a pint of beer is around $5.05 and store-bought beer is $1.75. You’ll also find 200 cheap but high-quality bars in the area.
If you’re wanting a view of Tulsa while enjoying your drinks, you might want to head to Open Container, the Mayo Rooftop Hotel or the Saturn Room, all bars with a great view of the city’s downtown area.
9. Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona has cocktails for an average of just $9 each, with a pint of beer costing you around $4.93, a bottle of wine at $10 and store-bought beer for around $1.90. You’ll find 270 cheap but high-quality bars in the area.
While in this college town, you might want to order an original Tequila Sunrise, which was created in Arizona in the 1930s. The original combines tequila, crème de cassis, lime juice and soda water while the modern version is tequila, orange juice and grenadine.
Phoenix costs a little more to drink in than Tucson, but also has way more bars. With 990 cheap but high-quality bars in the area, you’ll have plenty of places to go for your $10 cocktails and $5.08 cent pints of beer. Wine will cost you $12 a bottle, while you can buy beer at the store for around $1.43.
While in Arizona, try ordering a High and Dry. Just like the Arizona desert and the Grand Canyon, the cocktail is dry. It’s made with either Mandarin vodka and triple sec or rum, velvet falernum and Angostura bitters.
7. Sacramento, California
If bottles of wine are your go-to, Sacramento is the place to be. The average price of a bottle of wine there is just $9, which is cheaper than the average price of a cocktail — $10. A pint of beer is $5.94 and store-bought beer is $1.48. You’ll find 504 cheap but high-quality bars in the area.
If you’re not going for bottles of wine and would rather have an interesting drink in Sacramento, head to Grange, where you’ll find a cocktail called The Fat Harold, which combines Sazarac rye with orange simple syrup and black walnut bitters. Interesting for sure.
6. El Paso, Texas
Another Texas city on the list, El Paso, has some pretty cheap drinks as well. Here you’ll find an average of $8 for a cocktail, a bottle of wine at $11.99, a pint of beer is $4.56 and store-bought beer is $1.67. There are 220 cheap but high-quality bars in the area.
According to research from Versus Reviews, the most popular cocktail in Texas is the Paloma. Traditionally a mix of tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, sugar or simple syrup and club soda, they are served with a salt rim and lime wedge.
5. Arlington, Texas
If cocktails are your favorite thing to drink, Arlington, Texas has the cheapest cocktails on the list at an average of just $7. A pint of beer is $4.30 and a bottle of wine is $12, making it not quite the cheapest city overall, but the best place for a cocktail. Store-bought beer in Arlington is around $1.96 and you’ll find 192 cheap but high-quality bars in the area.
A great-sounding Texas-themed cocktail in Arlington is the Texas Manhattan, which you can find at J.R. Bentley’s in downtown Arlington. The drink combines Texas whiskey with sweet vermouth and bitters.
Baltimore comes in at fourth on the list, with a cocktail costing around $10. A pint of beer is $4.95, wine is $110 a bottle and a store-bought beer will cost you around $1.42. There are 440 cheap but high-quality bars in the area, so there is no shortage of places to find some drinks.
While in Baltimore, you should order a Black-Eyed Susan (pictured), the official drink of the Preakness, a horse race held each year in the city. It is made with vodka, St. Germain, pineapple juice, lime juice and orange juice.
3. Tampa, Florida
The cheapest place to drink in the Sunshine State is Tampa, where you’ll find a whopping 1,056 cheap but high-quality bars. Cocktails are around $10, a bottle of wine costs $11.47, a pint of beer is $4.68 and store-bought beer is just $1.23.
While in Tampa, you’ll want to order a Rum Runner, which is said to have been invented in the 1950s at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Islamorada, Florida. The drink combines Captain Morgan rum with blackberry liqueur, creme de bananes and orange juice.
Just one place away from the cheapest city, Cincinnati has 686 cheap but high-quality bars. You’ll find cocktails for around $10, bottles of wine for $12, pints of beer for $4.19 and store-bought beer for $1.16.
While in Cincinnati, if you like beer, you should definitely order a Cincinnati Cocktail, which is made with 1/2 pint of beer and 1/2 pint of soda water.
1. Wichita, Kansas
If you live in Wichita, Kansas, or plan on visiting soon, you are in luck — they are the cheapest drinking city in the U.S. Tthe average price of a cocktail in Wichita is $7, a pint of beer costs $3.78, a bottle of wine is $12 and store-bought beer is just $1.75. There are also 93 cheap but high-quality bars in the city.
While in Wichita, you may want to order a Horsefeather, a drink that got its start in Kansas the 1990s. It’s similar to a Moscow Mule, but has whiskey instead of vodka.