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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: Mastery in distilling, artery-killing, and a great place to drink outdoors. Have an event coming up? Want to share a tip? E-mail her.

1. Elixir Cocktail Club: After a hiatus of nearly six months, the stalwart Mission bar has revived its Thursday series of lectures and tastings-- a new way, for those who have already completed college, to simultaneously get educated and get drunk. Tonight's tasting features the numerous wines and spirits of local producer Charbay, with a lecture by master distiller Marko Karakasevich. Upcoming tastings include Grand Marnier, gin and genever, and Balvenie Scotch. We'll keep you posted. (Thursday, July 9, 7-9 pm, at Elixir, 3200 16th St., Mission.)

2. Fried Chicken Taste-Off: With fancy restaurants like Town Hall serving the stuff and SOMA's Little Skillet specializing in it, it's great to be a fried chicken lover (if not necessarily a chicken) in SF right now. Foodie bookstore Omnivore fans the flames by hosting a taste-off; you can bring your own fried bird for free entry, while $5 will net you a no-holds-barred eating pass as well as wine provided by the store. Vegetarians? Well, there's always sitting in a corner and continuing your grumbling about the bacon trend. (Thursday, July 9, 6 pm, at Omnivore Books, 3885 Cesar Chavez St., Noe Valley.)

3. BevMo! 5-Cent Wines: It's not a swanky event, and there's no atmosphere, but the fact of the matter is this: BevMo! sells buy one, get one free (OK, get one 5 cents) wine, and they have tastings almost every weekend to help you choose those wines. This week's tasting features six wines from South America. Drink cheap wine, maybe buy cheap wine, be happy. This is the tao of BevMo!, as far as we can tell. (Saturday, July 11, 12-3 pm, at SF BevMos! on Bayshore, Geary, and Van Ness, as well as most outlets around the Bay Area.)

4. Summer of Gov: The Gov 2.0 Club, a "national organization that brings together leading thinkers from government, academia, and industry to share ideas and solutions for leveraging social media tools and Web 2.0 technologies," is throwing an open bar at 111 Minna on Tuesday. You can get in for free by RSVPing at the above link. If leveraging social media tools is something you can support with your pocketbook, please donate: once they run out of cash, the liquor moves to a pay-your-own-way model. (Tuesday, July 14, 6 to 9 pm, at 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna St., SOMA.)

5. Palomino Happy Hour: With weather as nice as that of the past few weeks, outdoor drinking is no longer optional. Palomino is located right on the Embarcadero, overlooks the water, validates parking, and offers an insane pair of happy hours to boot: Visitors of both the early and late persuasions can enjoy $3 margaritas, drafts, and glasses of house wine. Half-off appetizers will help to soak up all that reasonably-priced tequila. (Monday-Friday, 4-6 pm and 10 pm-close, at Palomino, 345 Spear St., Embarcadero.)