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The best way to make your student loan go as far as possible. Photo: Paul McClintock

The Freshers’ Drinks Guide

Being a third year student at the university, I’ve had a bit of time to sample the best and worst of the cheap alcohol that Manchester has to offer. Here is my introduction to four of the drinks that you’ll become well acquainted with during your stay!


Sainbury’s Basics vodka (700ml) – £11, 37.5%

Serving itself as the staple alcohol within the students’ repertoire and coming in at a mere price of £11, Sainsbury’s Basic will serve as a faithful companion on your nights out if you can handle its sting (and its odd hand sanitizer-esque smell!). Versatile and reliable, this student favourite is guaranteed to get your night off to a fantastic—and incredibly drunken—start. Basics can combine with all sorts of mixers, from coke to fruit juices, allowing almost any drink in your fridge to be a viable addition.

Unlike most cheap vodka products and other spirits within the Sainbury’s own brand range, I have never woken up with (too bad of) a hangover from it. I also think it provides much less throat burn than two of its other main rivals around the student scene, Tesco’s Everyday vodka and Asda’s infamous Select Value range. Find it difficult to drink? If you aren’t able to tolerate its sharp taste, try leaving the bottle to chill for a while in the freezer before you drink it; you’ll find it goes down much easier. Also, always add good quality mixers to your vodka—it will improve the overall quality of your drink, making it much more palatable.


Crofters / Hawksridge Apple Cider (2L) – £2.09, 5%

It’s not Strongbow or Bulmers admittedly but, for the price, you can hardly go wrong with these ciders. You can purchase 2 litres of either Crofters or Hawksridge from Morrisons for £2.09, making them fantastic options for small social flat gatherings with a couple of friends. If that cider sounds a little upmarket for you, why not try one of the famous white ciders? A favourite among those who find their cider isn’t onion-based enough for them, White Ace and Frosty Jack’s are a go-to if you want a high-alcohol and somewhat bleach-like drink. 


Lambrini (750ml) – £1.95, 7.5%

So you’ve spent all of your money in the first week of term and are now struggling to fund your social life. You can’t afford Hardys or Echo Falls, and you can’t stomach another bottle of Blue Nun. Don’t worry – we’ve all been there. Half of the university experience is learning how to budget, which often means sacrificing quality for quantity. When the financial push turns to a shove, you sometimes have to lower your standards and turn to alcohol that’s a bit less classy. Costing only £1.95 per bottle (!), Lambrini may taste like vinegar, but you’re getting a lot of glasses to your pound. Marketed as bottle of wine instead of the Perry that it truly is, Lambrini has your alcohol needs covered in even the worst of financial circumstances. There are a number of different flavours to try, such as the peach, cherry and summer fruit variants, offering you a few different options to choose from.


Water (unlimited) – free, 0%

After all of the partying and drinking that you’ll be doing on freshers’ week, make sure you drink a few glasses of trusty water before you go to bed and as soon as you wake up. Completely free with an alcohol percentage of 0, it’s a perfect drink to help douse potential hangovers before they occur and shock your system back into sobriety.


Tags: alcohol, cider, freshers drinks, lambrini, Perry, Vodka, water

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