It’s Saturday night, and you and your girls are making a trip to the liquor store. You are bombarded by 30 kinds of wine, 17 flavors of your favorite vodka, more types of liquor than you even know existed, and an entire wall full of domestic and foreign beers. You are totally overwhelmed, and look around to see other groups of girls geared up with careful choices – looking much more prepared and in control than you. Their carts are filled with choices ranging from expensive to dirt cheap… flavored to plain… huge bottles to little spritzers. What the hell?!

If you’re finding yourself wondering why these apparent experts chose the liquor they did – and how to adequately prepare your own liquor cabinet for anything to come – we’re here to help you. Welcome to the Slutty Girl’s Guide to Choosing Alcohol – where you’ll find the 8 key factors you should consider before making a big, boozefest-worthy purchase.

1. The Alcohol Content

We don’t go to the bar to have a single drink, and leave after that one allotted drink. We don’t go to college parties to have a shot of tequila, and leave the premises once we’ve had that one shot. Most of us like to drink socially, keep up with our friends, and drink throughout the whole night – whether that means you have weaker drinks to keep yourself pleasantly tipsy – or strong drinks to ensure you’re sufficiently shit-faced. If you’re the kind of person that likes strong drinks and getting your “drunk for your buck”, look for a high alcohol content percentage (think, vodka, tequila, whisky, and Everclear if you’re feeling ballsy). If you prefer to take it easy and sip to slowly achieve your drunk, try a lower alcohol “proof” (like wine, beer, skinny girl cocktails, and usually “pre-made” mixed drinks). Depending on your preferences, you’ll be walking out with a cart full of strong spirits or weaker delights. If you’re having a party, consider getting higher proof alcohol to mix into a bucket or shared mixture – a mid-range proof for shots and self-made drinks – and lower proof option for anyone who wants to take it easy.

2. Drunk For Your Buck

Getting drunk for your buck is one of the main factors if you’re spending-savvy like me. This means you’re getting the maximum alcohol content for the minimum price. Low-cost; high-reward. Sure, sometimes it is nice to feel like a you’re on Rich Kids of Beverly Hills – break out the Cîroc or take a shot of that Grey Goose – but in reality, most people can’t do that every time they drink. Let’s face it; we’re broke. And even if we aren’t broke, we could stand to save a buck once in a while (or all of the whiles). To get the most for your money, pick an alcohol with a low price tag and a high “Proof” (such as 60, 70 or 80). Classic low-cost, high-reward choices are Everclear, Franzia, and malt liquor. If you aren’t open to trying something new and want to stick to your classic favorites, look for special promotions or sales so you can stock up when the prices on that alcohol are lower, and have it for future drinking excursions to come.

3. Sneakability

No matter how old you are, it’s an amazing thrill and sometimes entirely practical to sneak alcohol into somewhere where it is not supposed to be consumed – or, where it’s crazy expensive. As you fill up your water bottle or Snapple, you’ll get flash backs to freshman year of college and sneaking cheap vodka into your dorms while outsmarting campus security. Now that you’re of age – finding sneaking in some nicer liquor is even more exciting than doing a covert-operation with the shitty stuff. If you’re going to a stadium, concert, or a dry beach, you will want a product that you can easily conceal from direct view. Look for sleek packaging or small containers. Look for “wine totes” or flasks. We have a whole post with different gadgets to hide your alcohol if you’d like some inspiration. If you’re not willing to invest in a product to help you sneak your alcohol, try a wine “juice box” that you can carry in your purse.

4. Sharability

Some girls love to share everything. They share their clothes, shoes, and space with their BFFs. Yet, even though we love to have group ventures, alcohol is sometimes an exception to the rule – especially if it’s expensive, and your friends are constantly taking yours without returning the favor. It’s a good idea to make an agreement with your friends in advance. You can split a bottle of liquor (equally), or have everybody get their own bottle – rather than rely on everyone to just “get you back eventually” and never follow through. If a friend consistently isn’t interested in splitting the costs or bringing their own, but still asking for yours… they’ll just suddenly be invited to less pre-games.

If you’re definitely sharing or having a party, you may want to consider getting some cheap stuff to have out on the bar for everyone – and then something private just for you, your BFF, or anyone else who you choose to drink the nicer stuff. For your own private stash – keep it somewhere hidden, and only take it out when you’re using it or sharing it, rather than having it on the table at all times. If you’re concerned about it going quickly, get a kind that nobody but you – or that not many people – like. If you’re the only tequila girl in the apartment, break out the Jose Cuervo. Don’t sacrifice your favorite because your girls may want to share, but know that if they ask for a shot, you don’t have to say yes. It’s your alcohol, after all!

5. Mixability

Not everyone can take straight tequila shots… and as much as we don’t want to admit it, alcohol doesn’t taste so good straight out of the bottle unless you’re already wasted. Sure, chasing alcohol works for some – but others prefer to mix up their own little yummy concoction. Try to find an alcohol that will pair well with your favorite juice or soda, or a variety of mixers. Typically, non-flavored liquors like vodka and rum are the way to go. If you love flavored vodka, or liquors with a stronger taste, look up recipes ahead of time, and make sure you have some good mixers and any other ingredients on hand. You may even want to get something special – like salt and limes for tequila shots. If you’ve already got some random liquor, look up ideas for something that will nicely compliment your recent purchase. You’ll find what works for you. Happy experimenting!

6. Familiarity

There’s a reason why we go to the same burger joint down the street and order the same burger every time. It’s the same reason why we always get the vodka cranberry at the bar. We like familiarity, and just like we choose other comforts in life, we like to choose alcohol that we’ve already have had a positive experience with. We want to be able to predict how we will feel in the morning, and how drunk we will get off that alcohol with minimum distaste and effort. Even though that foreign moonshine seems like an awesome idea at 1:30 AM, you will hate yourself at 7 AM for trying it. Though we sometimes like to be adventurous and try new things, most girls stick to their favorites – and that’s totally fine.

7. The Pretty Package

Some drinks come in a little, inviting, pink bottle. Others come in masculine camo packaging. As much as we want to believe that marketing doesn’t go into our choices, it definitely does. Why do you think we choose the “Skinny Girl” vodka or the “Kinky”? We want an alcohol bottle and name that represents us. We want to carry something into the party that looks fun, flirty, and sexy. We don’t always want to look like a beer-drinking, football-watching tomboy (though sometimes, that works to our advantage). We don’t necessarily want to look to sophisticated, fancy, or rich when we break out our foreign booze with German packaging. To some girls, the packing does not matter – but to others, we want that pretty bottle to rock the shelf and then later, put our fairy lights in to display in our windows for visitors to see.

8. Popularity

Despite your personal preferences and tastes, there are some occasions where breaking your norm for the norm of the group is preferred. We want to take shots of tequila together, drink wine on Wednesdays, and sip (or pound) margaritas in the Cancun sun during Spring Break. We often chose our drinks based on classic pairings (like champagne and weddings), the goal of the night (like celebrating a breakup with shots), and the cultural persona surrounding them (like cute little umbrella drinks by the pool). We also choose based on what everyone else is drinking, whether we like to admit it or not. If our friends are getting screw balls, we say screw it and get screw balls. If our sister says red, rich wine gives her the worst hangovers, we avoid red wine on Wednesdays and go for white. It is all based on the popularity of the drink, the “reputation” it has, and the nightly experience we want to create.

Keep Calm and Drink On

There is a method – nearly as accurate as the scientific method – that goes into choosing what our drink of the night will be. Whether it is Sangria or Smirnoff, whiskey or wine, we all have our favorite drinks – yet can make alcohol choices for parties and events that  will alway lead to a good time (hello, tequila). By considering the factors above, you can ensure you’ll have the perfect alcohol, whether you’re having a relaxing Girl’s Night In with your BFF’s, are pre-gaming for a party, are throwing your own, or are preparing for an entirely different event. Keep Calm & Drink On, girl – there’s the perfect liquor out there ready & waiting for you!