When it comes to summer wines, classic buying tips apply: Many wine shops offer steep discounts on overstocked wines or partial cases. Beyond that, there are several inexpensive wines that are great summer chillers: Vinho Verde, for example, is a light, summery Portuguese wine that often costs $5 or less a bottle.
As for beer, if you're looking for something that hits the sweet spot between a run-of-the-mill Budweiser and a pricey microbrew, you might consider a German hefeweizen. These smooth wheat beers aren't too hoppy, are fairly crisp, don't have too much alcohol, and taste great with a wedge of orange. Alternately, if you still have fond college memories of Mickey's wide-mouths and Gennessee Cream Ale, you'll be pleased to know that inexpensive American cream ales are experiencing a renaissance.
Photo: O_sam_o, Flickr.com
When it comes to cost-effective beverages, it's hard to beat everyday sodas, but if you want a cheap soda that isn't loaded with high fructose corn syrup, the options get a lot thinner. A few weeks ago, we looked at some of the best bets at your local Asian market, but if you have a Latin American store in your area, you might try Jarritos, a Mexican soda brand that uses cane sugar instead of HFCS. As an added benefit, Jarritos comes in wide variety of flavors -- like watermelon, pineapple and tamarind -- that are sure to surprise your friends and family.