A mathematical guide to drinking classy on the cheap

In January, we released our long-anticipated “guide to drinking classy on the cheap.” I — being the science editor and all — wanted to take a more objective approach to the age-old question of how university students can drink, cheaply.


To come up with the following list, I used the BC Liquor store website to find the five cheapest bottles under each category — wine, beer, spirits, and coolers and ciders — that were available at the Westbrook Mall BC Liquor Store. I did not take into account any sales or special prices. I made the assumption that for beers and for coolers and ciders, it would be cheaper to buy in bulk, so I only included packages of eight or more bottles or bottles sized 750 mL or bigger. For spirits, I only included bottles of 750 mL or larger, again assuming buying in bulk would be cheaper. I made no assumptions about wine and just picked the five cheapest available bottles available at the UBC BCL.

I then calculated the price per litre of alcohol in each drink. I multiplied the size of the bottle by its alcohol percentage to find the mL of alcohol in each drink. I then divided this by the price to find the price per mL of alcohol and multiplied this number by 1,000 to find the price per litre of alcohol each drink contained. 

Don’t drink an actual litre of alcohol though — that’s a very, very, very bad idea. 

Then, I ranked the bottles — one to five — in order of how expensive each was per litre of alcohol it contained. The cheapest I rated first, the most expensive I rated fifth. I also ranked each bottle — one to five — by its rating on the BC Liquor store website. The best ranked was rated first, the worst fifth. 

I added these two rankings together and used that to rank the drinks. The lower the score, the higher the final ranking.

NOTE: Drink responsibly. Alcohol poisoning is serious, isn’t fun and can kill you.


1. Martini — Dry

2. Baby Canadian Sparkling

3. Cabernet Sauvignon — Concha Y Toro Frontera

4. Zinfandel — Big House Cardinal Zin Can

5. Pinot Grigio — Big House The Birdman Can


1. Shaftebury — 15 Pack Can

2. Stroh Canada — Pabst Blue Ribbon Can

3. Coal Harbour — 311 Helles Lager Can

4. Pacific Western — Cariboo Genuine Draft Can

5. Sleeman — Original Draught Can


1. Peach — Dr. McGillicuddy’s

2. Blarney’s Irish Cream Liquor

3. Creme De Bananes — Bols

4. Blue Curacao — Bols

5. Triple Sec — Henkes

Coolers and Ciders

1. Sangria — Lolea Red

2. Sangria — Don Simon

3. Okanagan Apple Cider Extra

4. California Cooler — Orange

5. Bulmer — Strongbow Tall Can

Now what?

So what should you do armed with this knowledge next time you enter the liquor store? 

Ignore it. Buy whatever you like knowing it fits into the budget you’ve worked out for yourself and have a good time and live again to have another good time next Friday night.