Drinking Chivas on a 7-Up Budget


Bar-hopping can get very sloppy, very fast. Aside from the stomach-turning side effects of chasing down a pint of lager with two shots of tequila, followed by rum and coke, you can easily lose track of spending at the bars.

Here are some sobering tips:

Pregame Warm-Up

Before hitting the bars, consider having a gathering at a friend's home with cocktails or drinks to limit spending at the bars.

The math here is simple. A bottle of wine in restaurants or bars is usually marked up 100% or 200%, at least. Meantime, one bottle of beer can run $5 or $6, which, depending on the brand, can cost as much as a six-pack. If you're planning to drive into town after the pregame party, always determine a designated driver.

Along the same lines, if you're heading out for dinner, map out restaurants that let you bring your own bottles of wine.

Pay Per Drink

Avoid opening a tab at the bar with your credit card. Forget the plastic, as you are more likely to spend recklessly. The consequence can be one monstrous bill at the end of the night.

Instead, bring cash and pay for each individual drink at a time. Remember tipping is about $1 per drink if you pay individually. It's otherwise expected you pay 15 to 20% on a tab, which is generally more money, too.

Make Friends With the Bartender
Just like you have your favorite bar, bartenders have their preferred customers, folks who come often, say hello and stay for more than one drink. At Merchants Café in New York's financial district, the bartender said he's more likely to offer freebees to kind patrons, at least one free drink for every two or three orders.

Get Happy
Don't forget about happy hour (between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the weekdays) when popular drinks cost half as much. Some bars also put out free food or snacks for the after-work crowd.


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