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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. Have an event coming up? Want to share a great tip? E-mail her.

1. Groundsound: As true open bars grow increasingly hard to come by, a hat tip is owed to the folks at Upper Playground and SonicLiving, whose monthly Groundsound happy hour is one of the few legitimate ways to get a free beer in this town. While the large crowds that show up for this event tend to overwhelm tiny Laszlo, it's amazing what complimentary Trumer and Shiner Bock can do to soothe frayed nerves. Free beer is from 6-7, but past visits have found the featured brews being sold at bargain-basement prices after the magic hour. (Friday, July 3, 6 pm, at Laszlo, 2526 Mission St., Mission.)

2. Chimay and Sam Adams Tasting: Two pioneers in Belgian and American craft brewing, respectively, will be on offer for sampling at Bay Area BevMo! stores. Personally, we've always wanted to do a side-by-side comparison of red, white, and blue Chimays; what more appropriate time than Fourth of July weekend, and what more American price than free? (Friday, July 3, 4-7 pm, at SF BevMo!s on Geary and Van Ness, as well as Colma, Albany, Oakland, Walnut Creek, and more.)

3. Fourth of July: Admittedly, this is a bit of a gimme, but deals are hard to come by this week precisely because of this holiday juggernaut landing on a Saturday. Practically every city in the Bay Area will have their own festival, fireworks, fife and drums, etc., leaving you no excuse but to enjoy multifarious outdoor drinking opportunities. Let the eagle soar! (Saturday, July 4.)

4. Martinis and Weenies: Not to be outdone by various other cutely-named recession specials ("recessials"?), Bix is offering the 60's-style pairing of a martini and a plate of pigs in a blanket for $7.50. While this may seem a bit steep, the atmosphere is classy and you do get to drink just like Don Draper-- and his pigs didn't come wrapped in housemade brioche. (Monday-Thursday, 4:30-6:30, at Bix, 56 Gold St., Financial District.)

5. Olympia Mondays: Drinks don't come much cheaper than at Thee Parkside's Olympia Mondays, where cans of the brew (motto: "It's [the] water") go for a mere buck. If you don't care for "water," happy hour runs until 8; wells and most drafts are a slightly pricier $3. (Mondays, all night, at Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St., Potrero Hill.)