Clean Straw For Nothing – A Guide to Drinking on a Budget (1)

Welcome to the first in a series of articles about drinking on a budget. Future articles will include the best  and cheapest places to drink, both in the on and off-trade, as well as good deals and fine street-drinking locations. This is…

Clean Straw for Nothing

What with rising rents, a distinct lack of jobs, and what few employment opportunities there are being low-paid, or indeed, lacking any remuneration whatsoever, it’s getting hard for the committed drinker. Here in London we are fast-approaching the long-fabled and equally long-dreaded £5-pint; even the ever-reliable Samuel Smiths and JD Wetherspoon are beginning to test the pocket, though admittedly, their offers on spirits do make up for the increasing beer price.

So what do you do? You’re unemployed, or precariously employed, or perhaps even just sick of chucking so many notes over a bar and not even ending up pissed – so of course you head to the off-licence.

Know your offy. Be polite, courteous, and treat him right. He will, in time, become your best friend. My local offy can be seen in the picture below…

The New Pantry, North End Crescent

Located on North End Crescent, West Kensington, it’s a wonderful place with excellent deals and very friendly, understanding and discrete staff. However, never put all your eggs in one basket, as that bizarre and mildly-sexual saying goes – remember to shop around.

After all, the New Pantry here closes dead on 11 PM – so what do you do after that? Naturally there’s a Costcutter/Pricecheck type twenty-four-hour affair just around the corner who will cheerfully serve until twelve, but after that hour it certainly helps if they know who you are, particularly if you want to avoid the usual after-hours price-hike one gets in these places. So make sure you get around and get your face known – it could mean the difference between a happy night and painful, excruciating sobriety.

Also, don’t let commitment to your Offy get in the way of a good deal. For instance, our man above may well have some excellent offers on, say, his red wine, but if we just cross the road to the Sainsburys opposite…

Sainburys West Ken

…We can find ourselves some equally good, if not better deals. Which brings us, at last, to the subject of today’s article…

Sainsbury's Shiraz

Sainsbury’s Shiraz – £4.50 a bottle.

Now, the average £4 to £5 wine isn’t much cop. I mean, it still works out nicely, because even a bad wine will still get you pissed fairly quickly, but there’s no shaking the acidity and heartburn that it brings with it. But this stuff? This stuff is magnificent, even if you do two bottles on the trot (and, for £9, why not?).

Not only does it not make you feel like someone’s trying to solder your heart to your oesophagus, but it actually tastes rather nice too. The bottle says “plums and dark cherry flavours” but I dunno about all of that – all I know is that it doesn’t induce too much of a gag reflex while you chug it down your neck.

Some may find it a little sweet for their tastes, however, so for the same price Sainsbury’s also offer a Claret and a Côtes du Rhône, but as we can see below…

Shiraz2…At 14%ABV the Shiraz is the clear winner for me. You soon get over the slight sweetness with a couple of fags.

All in all I’d recommend this for drinking in both the home and on the street. Excellent value, decent strength and an acceptable taste make this my current cheap drink of choice.

That’s all for this article. Stay tuned for more excellent offers and good street-drinking locations!

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