3 Ways To Drink For Free
It's still possible to get free stuff in this world. Even drinks. Here are three ways where you can get your hands on some free booze, even when you're flat broke.
One of the great ironies of adulthood is that if you are going through a period where you are forced to count your pennies and avoid spending too much on things like, say alcohol, then chances are you may really be in need of a good stiff drink.
Thankfully, even during a recession, there are a number of ways a person can still get a free or discounted drink. To this end, there is one important lesson to keep in mind: nothing gathers a crowd like the two sacred words "open bar."
And business owners know this. If a local proprietor's goal is to assemble warm bodies, one of the surest ways to create a buzz is to promise one.
1. Gallery Openings
As we explored in our feature Three Classy (But Secretly Affordable) First Dates, one of the most underutilized cheap date ideas is the art gallery tour.
Most cities have their own version of a gallery district; a few blocks that are home to numerous fine art galleries all huddled together. For example, the far west side of the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan is home to literally hundreds of art galleries, often piled on top of each other in multistory converted lofts.
And as galleries change over their exhibits, sometimes as often as weekly, they will celebrate with an opening reception. These receptions are designed to bring in "the right people," e.g. art critics, bloggers, and hopefully art buyers. However, they also draw in a lot of people seeking the inevitable glasses of free wine—art fans nonetheless! (but a big part of the draw is the free wine).
Typical opening reception fare consists of crackers or cheese in addition to plastic cups full of white wine handed out by the gallery's intern, though some of the bigger galleries will feature an actual mixologist on hand making drinks from a sponsored spirit.
Also keep in mind that if you are at one opening, chances are another reception nearby. Thursday, it turns out, is the big day for gallery opening receptions. They can also be found on the occasional Friday or Saturday, but if you go to any city's gallery district on a Thursday night, you can be assured that there will be some complimentary and cultured drinking to be done.
Viva la art.
2. Store Tastings
You've almost certainly come across a tasting event on accident when stopping by your local spirits shop. Usually they consist of a representative from a winery or distiller (or, more likely their regional distributor) handing out free samples. Check out what your neighbors are spending at liquor stores in your neighborhood.
Like the gallery openings, you'll likely be imbibing from a plastic cup, but for the purposes of this article, were not looking for the sophisticated lounge experience, we're looking for alcohol.
Wine tastings are obviously the most prevalent, but there will often be the occasional whiskey, vodkas, or even microbrews. Now, unlike the gallery openings, where it's perfectly understandable that you will stop by and not purchase any multi-thousand-dollar works of art, a wine-and-spirits store is a place of business. When face-to-face with the rep you can just say, "that's delicious" and quickly walk away. If the goal is to not spend, then simply take a few minutes to look around the store before unceremoniously making your exit. This is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Perhaps just keep that store in mind for when you do have funds at your disposal.
Also, be sure to follow your local shops on Facebook and Twitter. For this is where they will usually advertise upcoming tastings (or other drink specials). Yes, the Internet is a true font of wisdom and events, which brings us to…
3. Visit The Internet
There are a number of websites, twitter feeds, and blogs that are dedicated to aggregating free or cheap drinking. For example, New York has blogs like boozeparty.net or Chicago has brokehipster.com. Simply Google (or Bing) "open bars in [your town]," and you'll surely stumble across a locally curated list of steals and deals in your neighborhood. (And if by chance there's not, then get yourself a WordPress account right now and start that bad boy up—the drink tickets will be flowing your way!)
Of course, we are now in the mobile age and surrounded by location-oriented drinking data. To that end, you can download the free and aptly-named Happy Hour Finder app (iTunes link) for your iPhone (sorry Android users) that will show you where the happy hour and drink deals are near you. The app even has a function where bar owners can create coupons with specifically tailored deal for app users.
Of course, there are always the standbys of deal sites like Living Social, Groupon, and Google Deals, which in addition to clogging your inbox will feature a bevy of drink deals in your neighborhood.
Remember to always drink responsibly, but also, when you can, drink cheaply.
You may also be interested in:
- Wine By The Numbers: Who Are America's Winos?
- Beer By The Numbers: How America Spends Its Beer Money
- Cocktails By The Numbers: Math And Mai Tais
- The Great Whiskey Bar Survey