Is it worth it to drive to South Carolina for cheaper liquor?


I sometimes joke that the only good things to come out of South Carolina are cheap gas and cheap liquor. That’s not true, of course. The state also produced Aziz Ansari and Stephen Colbert and Frank Underwood. And my wife’s family. And Hootie.

I’ve been known to make a trip south of the border to get cheap liquor, but I started to wonder: Is this actually saving me any money?

Let’s investigate.

The process

I traveled down to Frugal MacDoogal’s at the Carowinds exit to check the price of five different bottles of liquor.

For research. I promise. – Corey

A photo posted by CharlotteFive (@cltfive) on

I then compared those prices to those listed on the Mecklenburg ABC website.

To make things simpler, I assumed that we planned ahead and got cash to get the cheaper price at Frugal’s.

Here’s what I found.

(1) Jack Daniel’s Black Tennessee Whiskey, .75L

Meck ABC: $26.95
Frug McDoogs: $21.99
SC savings: $4.96


(2) Jose Cuervo Especial Gold, .75L

Meck ABC: $19.95
Frug McDoogs: $17.99
SC savings: $1.96


(3) Tanqueray Gin, .75L

Meck ABC: $20.95
Frug McDoogs: $19.99
SC savings: $.96


(4) Malibu Coconut Rum, .75L

Meck ABC: $12.95
Frug McDoogs: $12.99
SC savings: None! It cost 4 cents more. Mind. Blown.


(5) Tito’s Handmade Vodka, .75L

Meck ABC: $21.95
Frug Mcdoogs: $17.99
SC savings: $3.96


The results

Average savings: $2.36.

As expected, liquor is cheaper in South Carolina by a couple of bucks a bottle. Except Malibu. What’s up, Malibu?

But is it worth it to drive down there?

Let’s dive into this a little deeper, because why not? This is CharlotteFive so we’ll spend an unnecessary amount of time crunching the numbers on liquor.

Imagine we live in uptown and want to get cheap liquor. The distance to drive from Trade and Tryon to Frugal McDoogal’s is 12.3 miles one way.

And, according to, the average price of gas in Charlotte is $2.35.


And, just to round out the scenario, let’s say we drive a car that gets about 27 miles per gallon, because we care about the environment and don’t drive massive Hummers.

What would that cost?

According to’s Fuel Cost Calculator, that round trip would cost us $2.14 in gas.


Factor in that cost and an average liquor savings of $2.36 and you only save about 22 cents, on average, for one bottle based on our very small sample size study. (Obviously, you can adjust this based on where you live and what kind of car you drive. Also it doesn’t take into account the headache you get from driving down 77.)

Final thoughts

If you’re just going to grab one bottle, it’s probably not worth it. Just head to your local ABC store. But if you’re throwing a raging party or happen to be in South Carolina anyway, go for it and save a few bucks.

Save a few more and get some cheap gas while you’re at it. The gas station near Frugal McDoogal’s was $1.99 when I visited yesterday.

I had my math teacher wife check this, so I think my math is relatively sound. See a problem or have a comment/suggestion? Email me at

CoreyCorey Inscoe is editor of CharlotteFive and didn’t buy liquor or get gas when he was in S.C. reporting this story. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyInscoe.


  1. I just moved to Charlotte about 5 months ago and this is the article I’ve been looking for. Charlottefive will probably be my go-to for rad articles such as this one. Kudos.


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