One thing is for sure: college isn’t easy on our bank accounts. Whether you’re having a wine night or getting crazy on a Friday, there’s no reason to overpay for alcohol. But don’t worry, I got you guys.

In order to save you money on your next cocktail night, I decided to look at the major grocery stores common to university areas and compare the prices between the wine, beer, and hard alcohol sold at each.

Trader Joe’s


Photo by Madi Helfrich

Trader Joe’s offers some of the best selections for low-priced, good quality hard alcohol, beer, and wine. Not only are the prices completely reasonable, the quality of the lower-priced items can hold their own against higher priced, name-brand bottles.

At Trader Joe’s, your most frugal choice will usually be their off-brand labels. Also, for those who are lost when it comes to finding a good bottle of wine, beer or liquor, Trader Joe’s provides helpful information on all their product descriptions. Overall, if you are not planning on buying in bulk, Trader Joe’s offers some of the best deals.

Typical Prices:

Bottle of Venetian Moon Pinot Grigio: $4.99 per bottle (off-brand from Barefoot)

Bottle of Skyy Vodka (750mL): $17.99 per bottle, but for an off-brand bottle of Burnette’s vodka (750mL) it costs $5.99 per bottle

Six pack of Blue Moon Beer: $7.99



Photo by Madi Helfrich

If nothing else, Costco wins for the sheer range and variety of alcohol it offers. However, Costco does require a membership and most products are for buying in bulk. If you aren’t buying for longterm use or a party, I would not recommend Costco.

Costco offers the best price per bottle, but they’ll make you purchase a high volume of the product which will increase the price. Costco alcohol products, especially hard liquor, will last due to their size, so in the long run, they are a pretty great deal.

Typical Prices:

Bottle of Kirkland Signature Pinot Grigio: $5.99 per bottle

Bottle of Skyy Vodka: $18.99 for 1.75L, so the price for a 750 mL bottle costs about $8.14

Six pack of Blue Moon Beer: 24 pack is $23.99, so the equivalent price for a 6-pack costs about $6.00



Photo by Madi Helfrich

While Safeway’s prices on hard alcohol, wine, and beer can be on the higher end, there are deals if you have a membership card.

While I would rank Trader Joe’s and Costco higher on the basis of lower prices for quality items, Safeway usually is the closest option for students, so it might be worth paying a little more for the convenience.

Typical Prices:

Bottle of Barefoot Pinot Grigio: $5.54 per bottle (with a Safeway Club Card) and $8.99 per bottle (without a Safeway Club Card)

Bottle of Skyy Vodka (750mL): $12.99 per bottle (with a Safeway Club Card) and $19.99 per bottle (without a Safeway Club Card)

Six pack of Blue Moon Beer: $8.99 (with a Safeway Club Card) and $9.99  (without a Safeway Club Card)



Photo by Amy Miller

Target’s prices for alcohol are similar to Safeway’s. You’ll see a lot more brand names you’re probably familiar with, but the prices will be higher than Trader Joe’s and Costco. There may be occasional deals on various alcoholic products at Target, so keep your eyes open.

Typical Prices:

Bottle of Barefoot Pinot Grigio$5.99 per bottle

Bottle of Skyy Vodka (750mL): on sale for $12.99 per bottle

Six pack of Blue Moon Beer: $8.99 

Basically, Trader Joe’s and Costco seem to offer you the best priced, best quality alcohol – though they just might not be the brand name products you’re used to.

Whatever and wherever you are buying your alcohol, my advice is to keep an eye out for in-store sales on alcohol and sign up for membership cards in order to qualify for store deals.