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

Each week, former sf.myopenbar.com editor Allie Pape brings you her picks for the best places to booze on the cheap in SF. This week: vodka, Vietnamese, and very hip Judaism. Have an event coming up? Want to share a tip? E-mail her.

1. Cocktail Club: Elixir's combination of free tipples and education is essential fodder for the LTB acolyte, and things are heating up this month: in honor of the San Francisco summer, the bar is doing a month of vodka tastings. Alameda's own Hangar One will be out next week with all kinds of artisanal flavored vodkas, including kaffir lime and spiced pear, so save yourself a trip on the ferry and support a local business. Elixir's website has listings for many more vodka producers' visits to the Club over the course of the month. (Thursday, September 17, 7-9 pm, at Elixir, 3200 16th St., Mission.)

2. Three Seasons Re-Opening Party: This neo-Vietnamese joint in the Marina has undergone an extensive renovation, and the spoils are sure to entice even those who aren't fond of the scene. The grand re-opening will feature free nibbles from the kitchen and $3 champagne drinks. By the end of the night, they may have to change the name to Three Sheets. RSVP here. (Thursday, September 17th, 8-11 pm, at Three Seasons, 3317 Steiner St., Marina.)

3. Jardiniere Mid-Night Special: Most happy hours occur during a restaurant's slow times, either very early or very late; at Jardiniere, however, early-eating and late-drinking Civic Center opera and symphony crowds turn prime eating hours into deal time. From 8 to 10, the ultra-swank restaurant is offering a selection of cocktails for $8 and appetizers for $8 or less-- not cheap, but an attractive offer for those whose budget doesn't usually allow them to get within fifty feet of this place. (Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8-10 pm, at Jardiniere, 300 Grove St., Hayes Valley.)

4. Orson Happy Hour: Another entry from the "Thanks, Recession!" files: Elizabeth Falkner's pricey Citizen Cake spinoff, usually out of reach to plebeian pocketbooks, now offers a happy hour with $5 classic cocktails, including Manhattans and margaritas. Beers and wines by the glass also go for $5. Did we mention that they have duck-fat fries, too? (Tuesdays-Saturdays, 5-7 pm, at Orson, 508 4th St., SOMA.)

5. The Sway Machinery's Mystical Musical Extravaganza: Rosh Hashanah is almost upon us, and what better way to celebrate the new year than with some free music and wine? Instead of klezmer and Manischewitz, this hip Jewish party will boast pours from Wente Vineyards and the musical stylings of The Sway Machinery, described as "part ritual, part rock concert." L'chaim. RSVP here; you'll want to put "SF HMR" in the subject, and your full name and number in your party in the body. (Saturday, September 19, 9 pm, at The Sanctuary at Temple Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., Presidio.)