Boozing on a Budget

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Alcohol is Expensive

The majority of social life in NYC, for better or worse, revolves around bars. With small apartments, a spread-out city, 24-hour public transportation, and 4am closing times bars provide a roomy central meeting point.

This wouldn’t be so bad except a typical craft-beer-non-drink-special is $7, plus the $1 you leave for tip. Real cocktails fall into the double digits.

No worries though, there are still plenty of ways to get cheap booze.

Happy Hour Specials

There are a million happy hours in nyc. There are after-work happy hours (until 7ish), weekend daytime happy hours (until 8ish), and late night happy hours (after midnight).

There are specials (free pizza with a beer, 2 for 1 drinks).

Many brunches have deals with unlimited sangria, bloody mary’s, or mimosa’s (because who doesn’t want to be buzzed at 3pm?)

There’s even a bar that if your name is picked for the day you get to drink for free.

There are way too many happy hours around the city so here are a just few:

  • Alibi Bar in Fort Greene – $3 drinks until 8p
  • Barramundi in the LES – 2 for 1 drinks until 9p
  • Buttermilk Bar in Park Slope – $3 beer until 9p
  • Crocodile Lounge in the East Village – free pizza with beer
  • 4th Down in Williamsburg – bucket of beer specials, $6 beer + shot
  • Key Bar in the East Village – 2 for 1 drinks until 10p
  • Union Pool in Williamsburg – $ 2pbr, $ 3yeungling, $6 beer + shot until 8p

Become A Regular

Regularly go to the same bar, get to know the bartenders, be friendly, leave decent tips.

This can benefit you with free/cheap drinks.


NYC-based websites like The Skint are a valuable resource of events providing cheap & free booze.

Some events host open bars at a certain time-frame or no cover before midnight. Look for after-parties following a band/comedy show/other performance that will usually offer drink specials at a near-by bar.

Many events even include a complimentary drink. And if the booze isn’t free, they will likely have drink specials.

Take It Home

Ultimately, buying a six-pack and bringing it home is generally the cheapest option, if you have room to host.


What are your tricks for cheap drinking? What are your favorite nyc happy hours?

1 Comment

  1. Michelle says:

    My tip is buying the bartender a shot, usually they just make them all free (or at least that’s what they do here). It has failed a couple of times, but it has also worked!

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