like any (obsessive) hobby, drinking well constitutes a nontrivial part of a monthly budget. a graduate student stipend will put food on the table, but not necessarily drink. (thankfully i've grown out of my other expensive hobbies: road biking, numismatics, and owning a car, most notably.)
i learned a good deal of fiscal responsibility from my dad. keep a budget, never carry a balance on a credit card, save, save, save; all basic rules, but all good rules. consequently, i budget each month down to the subcategory.
for full disclosure, here's a rather rough breakdown: each month i earn $2000 after taxes. half of that is rent and utilities (*shake fist* at boston real estate), then after food, my roth ira, and other assortedness, i allow $200 for libations ($40/week and some room for new bottles). that's not much. i can't do after-work drinks every night and i certainly can't go to some of these cool cocktail events around boston. but i've built up a great ~60 bottle bar with a couple bottles a month (or more around the birthday and xmas windfalls, plus help from my like-minded roomie), so most of my liquid experimentation comes from that stockpile.
i'm going to try to report on this $200-a-month limit as i go along - i feel it's a unique boundary condition for an avid cocktailian. this past month, actually, i missed the mark and went over by some $30 (that's three drinks, don't laugh!), which i'll readily attribute to julio's unexpectedly stocking plymouth sloe gin. and visiting friends in nyc...milk & honey and pdt were well worth it, though.
excuses aside, i have developed some means to meet this budget:
- i grow my own bar. you can get 15+ good manhattans (or martinis) out of a $20 bottle of rittenhouse rye (plymouth gin), $5 worth of italian (french) vermouth, and paltry amounts of bitters. can you imagine if your friendly neighborhood bar charged $2 for one of those?
- i make converts. my roomie is now more than willing to put in for cachaça, multiple ryes, st. germain, or sloe gin. the (converted) friends i go out with all share tastes of drinks. (so that now i know what a blue blazer tastes and looks like, without the absolute necessity of finishing ounces of cask strength scotch...)
- i drink slowly. heh, yes, in the end, there aren't really any magical methods to drink less once you're under that certain judgment-hampering spell...so i make it a rule to savor. self-restraint is a skill.
- i tip my bartenders well. okay, this has nothing to do with staying on budget, but these knowledgeable bartenders and bartendresses deserve good money, especially for the knowledge i ply them for.
high class parsimony - ambitious, but i shall endeavor, and drink slowly...