Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Lowering the Bar: 5 Places to Drink For Cheap (or Free) This Week

Each week, we bring you our top picks for the best places to booze on the cheap in SF.

1. Herb Caen Martini Competition: In honor of the famed Chronicle writer and gadabout, Bottle Cap (the new restaurant in the historic Washington Square Bar & Grill space, Caen's old stomping ground) is hosting a martini competition with Chopin vodka. Four North Beach bartenders, representing Park Tavern, Tony Nik's, Campanula, and Bottle Cap itself, will compete to serve the top martini, with the public serving as the judge. Admission to the martini madness is only $5 ($10 at the door), including small bites, and all proceeds benefit Project Open Hand. Be sure to wear your coolest old-school togs for extra style points. Tickets are available here. (Tuesday, November 22, 5:30-7 pm, at Bottle Cap, 1707 Powell St., North Beach.) 

2. Speakeasy Brews and BBQ Party: To help San Franciscans battle the winter blues, Speakeasy is throwing yet another of its beloved $3 draft parties. This edition celebrates the release of the new "chocolate milk" Sutro Stout, brewed with real chocolate and available for a limited time. Good Foods Catering will sell their BBQ, and free tours will be available for those curious about how the new brew is made. (Friday, November 18, 4-9 pm, at Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, 1195 Evans Ave., Bayview.)

3. Beaujolais Nouveau at Grand Cafe: The annual Beaujolais Nouveau release is upon us, and Grand Cafe will be celebrating by pouring guests free samples of Georges Duboeuf's newest release, alongside free passed appetizers like duck sausage with quince chutney. Stay for dinner to enjoy special menu items for the occasion, like fried rabbit with heirloom apples and watercress. (Thursday, November 17, 4:30-8 pm, at Grand Cafe, 501 Geary St., Union Square.)

4. Wine Tasting Benefit for Project Open Hand: With Thanksgiving coming up, two events are helping fund the healthy homemade meals delivered by Project Open Hand. Joining the Herb Caen martini competition (above) is a wine tasting at Castro Village Wine Company, which will serve a $15 flight that includes Talbott chardonnay, Migration pinot noir, Fisticuffs cabernet, and the Compassion Blend, a benefit wine created by The Winery SF specifically for POH. All profits go to charity. (Wednesday, November 16, 6-8 pm, at Castro Village Wine Company, 4121 19th St., Castro.)

5. Cheeseburgers For Charity at Liverpool Lil's: Lil's is known for its cheeseburgers, and if you buy five tickets ($20) for their upcoming raffle, they'll present you with a coupon for a free one. Use the certificate at their celebration party, which will also feature $4 vodka drinks and wines by the glass. All proceeds will benefit the Walking Point Foundation, which helps Iraq and Afghanistan veterans overcome trauma through the arts; in addition to the burger, you could win a raffle prize like a magnum of wine or a pair of 49ers tickets. (Wednesday, November 23, 6-9 pm, at Liverpool Lil's, 2942 Lyon St., Cow Hollow.)