Tag Archives: alcohol

Cheapskate’s Guide to Drinking in San Francisco

The famous Chinese Mai Tai is poured at Li Po Cocktail Lounge. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
The famous Chinese Mai Tai is poured at Li Po Cocktail Lounge. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

Living in a city that is home to over six hundred bars and restaurants as well as a ton of eccentric characters has its perks. But between attempting to afford San Francisco’s increasingly high rents, school supplies, and student loan interest to pay off, I can not afford to spend money on whatever high-priced drink is in fashion at any given moment. And quite frankly, I am sick of hearing people rant and rave about $12 mojitos and attending brewery tours. As a middle finger to the exclusive (and expensive) alcohol scene in San Francisco, I have provided four of the best spots in the city to get drinks while adhering to that strict budget you have placed yourself on.

Buckshot Bar & Grill

3848 Geary Boulevard, Inner Richmond

Located on 3rd Avenue and Geary Boulevard in the Richmond district, Buckshot is a hidden gem in a city with one bar for every ten people. The crowd that can be found there on any given night is comprised of people that live in the neighborhood and University of San Francisco students; if you are sound enough to observe how the two different demographics interact, hilarity often ensues. I have witnessed old men dancing in the middle of large groups of sorority girls and drunk, middle-aged women inquiring about where they could “get something good to eat,” despite Buckshot having an in-house kitchen and being located in between a pizza place and a Burger King.

There is no jukebox at Buckshot, but there is a DJ there every night of the week, and if you come on the third Thursday of any given month you will be treated to Brown Noise, a monthly party where early aughts, hip hop, and R&B are played exclusively. If that is not your style, check out Punk Rock Tuesdays.

A simple whiskey and coke here will run you around $4 and a sixteen ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon will cost you $3. Both of which you can enjoy while being stared at by the taxidermy bear, deer, and cougar heads mounted on the fluorescent orange walls or while you stare up at whatever torture-porn horror movie is playing on one of three television screens, displayed on those same walls. They have every arcade game you could ever want to play (which probably is not many if you are like me), shuffleboard, pool, darts, and skee-ball.

The cheapness of the drinks, dark lighting, and the presence of a dance floor makes Buckshot a great place to have fun with some friends or get drunk and make out with a stranger, if you are into that sort of thing.

(Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
(Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)


Trad’r Sam’s
6150 Geary Boulevard, Outer Richmond

Planter’s punch: an alternative to the scorpion bowl. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
Planter’s punch: an alternative to the scorpion bowl. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

What better way for a cash-strapped college student to lower the price tag of a night out than splitting the cost of libations with friends? If you are looking to indulge in a punch-bowl filled with alcohol with a couple of friends—or alone, no one is judging you—then there is Trad’r Sams. Conveniently located across the street from the 29 bus stop on Geary and 25th Avenue, this means you could come here directly from school, Trad’r Sam’s is advertised as a tiki bar. But, because the only light in the place can be attributed to a digital jukebox and a massive television that sits directly behind the bar playing sports, the island-y decorations are easily lost in the darkness of the room. Bamboo is huge here; it covers the front of the bar, the armrests of the worn chairs and booth seats throughout the establishment, and was even used to build a hut-like structure that covers one of the booths. Aside from the liberal use of bamboo, pastel colors of the drinks and the little umbrellas used to garnish them, there is no other indication that this is supposed to be a tiki bar.

Despite its sort of silly theme, this bar is just as popular with older neighborhood residents as it is with young college students who are just figuring out the limits of their alcohol tolerance. While one would think the combination of locals and drunk college kids would make for many awkward encounters, the two demographics rarely interact—the older women and men mostly sit on bar stools and the college students are dispersed at tables around the bar, only acknowledging each other when space is needed to be made at the bar to order drinks.

Which comes to my last point: the scorpion bowl. The scorpion bowl is what makes Trad’r Sam’s Trad’r Sam’s. It is a huge punch bowl filled with alcohol and can be ordered in its original form or in a variety of flavors, including Passion Punch. I believe I saw the bartender pour both rum and beer into the blender, but I cannot say for sure what else is in it. One thing I can say for sure—the drink is strong. A scorpion bowl will cost you sixteen dollars and I recommend splitting it with at least three other people; it will hurt your stomach and your wallet less.


Randy’s Place
1101 Ocean Avenue, Ingleside

What you can get for $6 at Randy’s. (Martin Bustamante/Xpress Magazine)
What you can get for $6 at Randy’s. (Martin Bustamante/Xpress Magazine)

I used to hear stories of my friends hanging out at Randy’s Place because that was supposedly where all the cute people that work at the Whole Foods across the street went after work. I was always reluctant to go because it takes an hour to get there from the Richmond, where I live. However, it is really close to school, a fifteen minute bus ride, which is perfect if you are looking to wind down after a day of classes, but do not want to be subjected to someone playing covers of pop songs on the piano at the school’s pub. And who could pass up a bar where you can get a shot of well whiskey and a pint of Budweiser for the low, low, price of $6?

Aside from the decorations on the wall that appear to have been remnants of a birthday party that occurred long ago, the bar is as stereotypical of a bar as you can get; there are three televisions, a pool table, a jukebox, and nine draft beers on tap.

Randy’s Place has been around since 1969, and is one of the few bars that remains on a stretch of Ocean Avenue where there used to be eight, according to the bartender, a woman named Susan. Though she has only been tending bar at Randy’s for the past five years, my suspicions tell me that Susan is one of the reasons Randy’s Place has been able to stay in business. She is super sweet and seemed to be on a first name basis with everyone at the bar – they gave her hugs, she offered them candy, apparently functioning as both bartender and surrogate mom.

In addition to Susan’s sweetness, Randy’s is great because it is located by two major bus lines–the K/T light rail line, the 29 bus stop—and sits between a McDonalds with a twenty-four hour drive-thru and another hidden San Francisco gem, Beep’s Burgers.


916 Grant Avenue, Chinatown

I have been to Chinatown maybe three times in my life. Once, to watch a Chinese New Year parade while I was in elementary school. Once because I got off of the bus at the wrong stop. And again during this cheap drink tour, at the suggestion of my photographer that we hit up Li – Po, a seventy-seven year old bar famous for a drink called the Chinese Mai Tai.

The gates to Chinatown are an eight minute walk from the Montgomery Street MUNI station, and Li-Po is about nine blocks past these gates. I timed it, and you will spend about fifteen minutes walking from the underground to Li-Po – a little less if you run half a block after seeing a roach (like I did).

Li-Po is easy to spot—it will likely be the only place open on Grant Street at 11 p.m—and when you walk in the door to the narrow entryway, you will be greeted not by a bouncer, but by a bright yellow poster board with a photo of Anthony Bourdain and a man I am assuming is the bar’s owner glued to it. The poster proudly states “Anthony Bourdain came here on layover in 2012.”

At $9, the Chinese Mai Tai is a little more expensive than the other drinks consumed on this journey, but it comes in a goblet, and just one will get you a pretty nice buzz. It is also really good, which is shocking because I cannot think of any other time mixing five different alcohols in one drink was even in the realm of goodness.

The bar itself was dingy and sparsely decorated with some haphazardly arranged lanterns, a huge altar for Buddha right behind the bar, and two televisions. There was music, but I could not see where it was coming from and did not know who was in charge of it, but I would like to thank them for playing some of my middle school favorites: “Goodies” by Ciara and “Magic Stick” by 50 Cent.

If you cannot make it to Chinatown, the bartender tipped us off on the ingredients necessary for making a Chinese Mai Tai: Whaler’s Dark Rum, Castillo’s Light Rum, Bacardi 151 Rum, Chinese rice wine, Dole pineapple juice, and Chinese rice whiskey. Feel free to make it at home, just do not call it a Chinese Mai Tai—Li-Po’s owner had that name trademarked last year.

(Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
(Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)


Cocktails With a Kick: Winter Sour

Written by Dani Hutton

Elixir–Winter Sour–$11

Have you ever wondered what a Christmas tree tastes like? No, probably not. But, in the event that you’re curious now, it tastes like rosemary. Or vice-versa. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s certainly unusual if you’re not used to it. Despite the interesting element of rosemary oil within Elixir’s Winter Sour, it’s not what makes this drink special. No, that’s the egg whites.

Overall, the Winter Sour isn’t an overly complicated drink on an ingredient level. There are four ingredients: Campari, a type of potable bitters, Meyer lemon juice, egg whites, and rosemary. Muddle the rosemary, juice the lemon, strain the egg white, add the liqueur, shake, serve, and garnish. Seems like a combination that would result in a simple beverage, right?

Wrong. From the first sip, the drink is interesting, although whether it’s in a positive or negative manner, that’s up to your interpretation. The rosemary and Meyer lemon play off of each other heavily, nearly overpowering the other two ingredients. Despite that, the Campari makes an appearance, working with the with the Meyer lemon to add a sweetness that works to make the rosemary less overwhelming.

The egg white does nothing for the taste, but it’s an interesting addition because of what it does to the drink. Once shaken and poured, the egg white forms a frothy head that adds a fizzy layer, which makes the rest of the flavors pop in your mouth for an intense, if not particularly booze-laden experience.


A menu displays the beer options of a vendor in the O.co Coliseum.
A menu displays the beer options of a vendor in the O.co Coliseum.


By Jessica Mendoza
Photos by Gabriella Gamboa

It’s a beautiful Wednesday morning. The skies are crystal clear. The sun rays shine over the empty Oakland Coliseum.

There are still a few hours until the first pitch and only a few cars in the parking lot. A large group of people dressed in green and yellow shirts with “Galleo” written on the back gather around a table, laughing and engaging in casual chit-chat. The table is set with salad, chips and other snacks. Coolers overflow with ice-cold beverages, under the table. The majority of them is wearing green and yellow shirts. The Galleo Winery is having a company party, getting pumped up for the big game.

Several feet away is a couple, Fred and Kristin, sitting in the back of a black pickup truck with their friend Melissa, eating street tacos and drinking beer from a small cooler. Another couple, Salvatore and Lindsay, sit on lawn chairs, waiting for hot dogs to finish cooking on a small, portable barbeque.

Tailgating is a common “pre-game” pass-time for sports fans all over the world who are eager to cheer on their favorite team and enjoy some good grub.

“Tailgating with a group of friends is best way to save money,” says Ritchie.

Bay Area sports teams have been getting more attention this year than ever before, with the Giants winning two World Series’ in the past three years. The A’s defeating a drought and winning last year’s AL West division title, and the 49ers stealing a spot in the Super Bowl. The Raider’s roster may be under construction still, but they even have die-hard fans who will always have their back.

As for basketball, the Golden Gate Warriors are leaving their mark on the NBA, with rising young players like Stephen Curry, and by making an appearance in the playoffs for the first time since 2007. In the hockey world, the Sharks still continue to fight for the Stanley Cup.

As the popularity of these teams continues to rise, so do ticket and food prices, and sporting fans end up spending more money at the game than they did on entrance into the stadium. The average price of a beer is $10, nachos are $8 and even a water bottle costs $5. Are you a diehard Bay Area sports fan who refuses to spend extra cash on snacks? Here are a few pre-gaming tips that are sure to help you save some money.

Tailgate with fellow fans
For those who don’t know who don’t know, a tailgate party is when a group of fans gather together behind a truck or SUV and enjoy potluck style food and drinks before the big game.

“You can tell your friends to buy foods,” says Ritchie as he describes about dividing the food and drinks at the tailgate parties. “You don’t have to worry about buying food for a group of 12 people or more. You can ask people to bring their own food or drinks.”

“Tailgating before Raider games, you can bring a twelve pack of beer for $12 bucks instead of buying a one beer in the stadium,” says Jamey, a regular the SF State Pub, referring to when it comes to attending Raider games.

Salvatore Rancadore (left) and girlfriend Lindsay Dworkin (right) enjoy beers and hot dogs before entering the O.co Coliseum for a game against Lose Angeles Angels.
Salvatore Rancadore (left) and girlfriend Lindsay Dworkin (right) enjoy beers and hot dogs before entering the O.co Coliseum for a game against Lose Angeles Angels.

Bring your own food!
Before you go to the game, stop by your local grocery store and buy your own snacks. This is one of the best ways to save money, but what happens if you go to sporting venue and they don’t allow outside food into the stadium? The best solution is grubbing before the game.

Celebrating before the game
A lot of fans meet up at local eateries around the stadium, before the game. It doesn’t matter if its fast food, a cafe, or a sit-down restaurant- the chances of it still being less expensive than buying food at the game are great.

“When I go to Warriors games, I’ll go eat somewhere before” says Bryn, SFSU student, “I usually go to In-N-Out by the stadium.”

What about the booze? Sports venues make a profit on alcohol. It’s how they make the money. But it’s too expensive. The key is simple purchase a case of beer and split among your friends before the game. A great way to save money instead of buying drinks in the stadium.

“I usually buy six packs before I go to the games,” says Jamey about drinking before going to Giants games.

If you still think you might spend more money than you think you want to at the game, the best advice I can give you is to bring a set amount of cash with you. Take $40 with you and leave your credit card behind, that way you can’t just keep spending.

Take the train
It’s no surprise that parking in San Francisco or any other Bay Area city is a bitch. In San Francisco, the streets in the city are small and narrow, and jam-packed with pedestrians and other drivers. Paying for parking is another whole pain in the you-know-what. Before the new season of the Giants, the meters have gone up to $7 per hour and the cut off period went from 6p.m. to 10p.m.

The solution to saving money is to take Bart or Muni. The price for a Muni pass will cost $2 for adults, and Bart varies depending on where you are going, but is rarely over $8.

“I live in the Sunset (district) and I hop on the N line”, say Vinnie, when he goes to the Giants games.

Oakland Athletics fans head toward the O.co Coliseum for a game against the Los Angeles Angels after exiting the BART station.
Oakland Athletics fans head toward the O.co Coliseum for a game against the Los Angeles Angels after exiting the BART station.

Some Giants fans like, Bryn, take the ferry to the Giants. The ferry boats stop in front of the port walk. Bryn prefer to use the ferry then drive to the city. If you do, however, need to drive to a game, make sure you bring a group of friends with you who can split the parking fee. Ritchie and his friends carpool to Raider’s games and say it is a lot cheaper to split the cost of a spot.

“Carpool and pitch in for parking,” says Ritchie, “it saves us money.”

Go for the Nosebleed Section
It’s always nice to get tickets with a great view, or to have the chance to sit closer to your favorite team when you want to get a closer look at the players, however, these tickets can be very pricey. Most of the good seats, like lower box seats, can cost $60 or more. If you’re just desperate to get to the game, but don’t have a lot of money, try out the nosebleed section! All of the seats are designed for the audience to be able to see the game. Just because you don’t have the “top” seat, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the action.

Hipster Holiday Gifts for Under $10

Words: Barbara Szabo

1. Amoeba Records

Amoeba Records has an entire section with discounted vinyl, with records for as little as $1. That means you could buy your favorite hipster as many as ten records! (Amoeba Records, $1 and up).

2. Academy of Sciences

Academy of Sciences holds an event called Night Life Thursday nights. There is usually a band or DJ that performs throughout the night, as well as a bar, and some weeks focus on a theme. For example, earlier this year, a Night Life was devoted to all things bacon: vendors from around the city served bacon treats, there were scientific illustrations of pigs for viewing, and of course a vegan pig roast. Hipsters love bacon and veganism. (Academy of Sciences, Admission is $10 for members and $12 for everyone else)

3. Finger Tattoos

Cameras, black-framed glasses and mustaches are universal symbols of hipsterism. Make those into tiny, temporary finger tattoos and you have the perfect hipster gift. (Therapy, $8)

4. Hip Book Selection

Hipsters love reading books, especially works of writers such as Jack Kerouac or ironic books like “Understanding Rap: Explanations of Confusing Rap Lyrics You and Your Grandma Can Understand.” Vinyl Coffee and Wine bar has an entire corner dedicated to books from Green Apple for cheap. (Vinyl Coffee and Wine bar, $5 and up)

5. Refreshing Beverages

Pabst Blue Ribbon on ice: It’s not just a Lana Del Rey lyric, but also a of hipster lifestyle. (Fred’s Liquor Store, 12 pack: $7.99)

6. Printed Goods

Taylor Reid and Erin Fong are two local San Franciscans who recently opened a studio called Western Editions. They design and create printed goods, such as fun cards to give or mail out during the holiday season. (http://westerneditions.wordpress.com, $5 and up)

7. Penguin Socks

Hipsters are cool all-year-round, but during winter they literally get cool. What better way to warm their feet than with penguin socks with grippers on the bottom? (SFSU Bookstore, $10)

8. A New Ornament Style

Back in June, The Head and the Heart played three sold-out shows at The Fillmore. They looked good on stage, and their faces look just as good on an ornament. (http://zeitgeistmanagement.com, $10)

9. Cool Nails!

Nail art is really trendy among hipsters these days. These jeweled stick-on nails are easy to put on and look really good when holding a PBR. (Lucky Supermarket, $6.99)

10. Mustaches

Put a black mustache on a white mug, and there’s really nothing more to say about that. (Urban Outfitters, $8)

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