What's out: Bar hopping. What's in: Pre-gaming.

Even though alcohol is often considered recession proof, the current economic situation has led to a change in how many people including myself consume it. The change is actually a regression to an earlier stage of life; one where money was tighter and friends pooled their resources to achieve a common goal of inebriation. While the cost of booze at my local joints may be a bargain compared to those in bigger cities,I still find it disturbing that I can only get two beers for the cost of a six-pack; and don't even get me started on the hard stuff!

It's for these very reasons that pre-gaming is poised to make a comeback amongst the very crowd who had recently left the practice in their dorm rooms next to tattered Maxim magazines and their crumpled Animal House poster. Pre-gaming, for the un-initiated, is the practice of beginning your drinking in the comfort and the cost effectiveness of your own home. Once you've worked up a good buzz then you can head out for a night on the town and sustain your inebriation for a fraction of the cost. While many associate it with underage consumption many pre-gamers are simply trying to avoid the high cost of drinking in public.

Pre-gaming doesn't come without any drawbacks though, especially in areas without a good public transportation system. Depending on how far you plan to go and the number of clubs you'll be visiting, you can quickly eat up your savings in cab fare. Of course you can always rent a designated driver if you don't have a friend to step up, but you'll still be on the hook for $25 an hour. Additionally, there are concerns that pre-gaming can lead to increased inebriation and lack of control, so be sure to pre-game responsibly.

Personally, I find myself avoiding drinks with dinner in favor of a cheaper, more enjoyable drink before or after dinner with friends. One of the great upsides to pre-gaming or simply having a house party is that with your pooled resources a decent bottle of scotch is still cheaper than the combined bar tab of the group. Call me a tightwad, but I'll take a glass of Glenrothes over a watered down bar drink any day of the week!

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