Serrano’s free nacho bar, $2.50 margs = the happiest hour of all

May 8, 2011 § 3 Comments

Monday-Friday 3:00-6:30 pm
$2.50 margs, $1.50 appetizers

Serrano's cheap $2.50 strawberry marg is quite a treat. | Photo by Thu Pham

Serrano’s website dubs the Tex-Mex restaurant chain as “Austin’s best happy hour!” Well, I went last Friday to celebrate the last day of classes, and as it turns out, its happy hour IS pretty darn awesome. It was indeed the happiest hour of this semester.

Let’s start out with the drinks. Hands down, the best deal is the $2.50 margs. They’re decently sized and come in tons of flavors. I had the strawberry, mango, and amaretto frozen margs. The amaretto was my favorite, but to be honest, even the waiter couldn’t tell which one was which and it took us both a while to figure it out also. I will admit that they weren’t the tastiest margaritas I’ve ever had—they were actually really watery—but for that price, they sufficed.

My favorite part about Serrano’s happy hour is actually the food. They had a free nacho bar, which was awesome. The only thing better than their $1.50 appetizers is a free appetizer. My friend Ricky and I filled up on sautéed beef, cheese, and salsa…multiple times. If free nacho bars don’t impress you much, their happy hour appetizers include several tasty items, such as jalapenos rellenes, beef burritos, and chicken flaquitas. If you order a drink, they’re only $1.50.

Lastly, let’s go over the atmosphere. Serrano’s is very chill, relaxed, and has a huge outdoor patio. It was too hot for me to handle, so I sat inside. The only problem I had was parking, but there are plenty of metered parking spots around. In conclusion, two thumbs way the heck up.

Serrano offers a huge outdoor seating area. | Photo by Thu Pham

Cinco de Mayo events, pubcrawl in Austin

May 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

Happy, happy Cinco de Mayo from all of us here at The Frugal Drinker. Lucky for all of us, it’s on a Thursday! I did a quick search of some things going around in Austin if you want to head into the madness to get your drink on. Santa Rita’s event and the Pubcrawl seems to getting a lot of attention, so check those out if you’re interested.

All of us here are just excited to bring our undergraduate careers to a close as this week is the last, and naturally most stressful, week of classes at UT. The moment I’m done with classes today, I’m cracking open a bottle of Dos. Have fun and drink responsibly!

Whole Foods
$1 Dos Equis at Bar Lamar starting at noon

Santa Rita Cinco de Mayo Party
Thursday, 6-9pm
According to Santa Rita Tex Mex Cantina‘s website, Ambhar Tequila will be having free tastings, and the restaurant is providing complimentary appetizers.

House Wine
Thursday, 7-10pm
House Wine will be having $5 Margs on the Rocks, $5 Sangria, Spanish wine specials starting at $5/glass and $18/bottle, $5 Micheladas. Like always, there will be complimentary appetizers, such as chips and queso, chili, and pan dulce.

J Black’s Feel Good Lounge
Drink specials all day,featuring Dos Equis and Ambhar Tequalia. Starting at 4:00.

Dirty Bill’s
511 Rio Grande, 6pm-2am
$1 Dos Equis served all day

Six Lounge Rooftop Patio
117 W. 4th St., 6pm-2am
$2 Dos Equis all night

2nd Annual La Condesa Cinco de Mayo Downtown Block Party
2nd St. between San Antonio & Guadalupe, 5-10pm
Food/Drink: Cazadores margaritas and tequila shots, Dos Quis, Tecate; authentic street foods from La Condesa and Malaga

Cinco de Mayo Pancho Villa Moustache Party
At Cedar Door, 201 Brazos St
There will be bands playing from 8-11pm with drink specials all day, including half-priced frozen mexmarts, half-off El Viejo Luis Tequila, and half-off Dos Equis draft pints. Extra incentive: if you wear a moustache and sombrero, you’ll get a free beer while supplies last!

Cinco de Mayo Pub Crawl
Today, Friday, Saturday/The Stage on Sixth/ $10-$25
Pubcrawl.com is putting this on, with the list of Dirty Sixth bars they are hitting up is unknown. According to Austin 360, you can buy either a one day pass or one for all three days and enjoy $1 drafts, half-priced Coronas and $3 margaritas or tequila shots at participating bars. Hit up Austin 360 for more deets.

DIY wine-based drinks

May 2, 2011 § 2 Comments

I LOVE WINE. Ever since I studied abroad last year in Italy, I’ve been obsessed. While I love a glass of wine with my dinner (or without, haha), there are times when it’s just too heavy for me. While I can’t guarantee you the best wine-based drink recipes, I’m going to share two of my favorite, both of which I got spoiled with while traveling in Spain afterward.

The first is going to be the the well-trusted Sangria. While I have complained more times than not that it just tastes diluted and flavorless, there are times when I find it incredibly refreshing.

Spanish sangria contains lots of oranges. | Photo by Thu Pham

1 lemon
1 lime
2 oranges
1 cup rum (or club soda if you don’t want to mix your alcohols)
1 bottle red wine
1 cup orange juice
1/2 white sugar

Make sure all of the liquids, rum, wine and orange juice chilled before you start. Cut up the fruits into slices and throw them into a larger pitcher. If you’re doing it with rum, pour the rum and sugar into the pitcher with the fruit. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Afterward pour the wine and orange juice in to serve. Mix first, of course.

If you’re working with the club soda, I would just chill everything separately and then mix it when you’re ready to serve it.

Like with anything else, adjust the ingredients to your liking. I really enjoy the taste of oranges in this drink, so I always add a ton.

Calimocho consists of 50% red wine, 50% coke, and is 100% tasty. | Photo by Thu Pham

My next drink is mind-blowingly easy. Calimocho is a spanish drink that’s just coke and red wine. Yup, that’s it. The drink is incredibly easy to make: 50% red wine and 50% cola. I used a $10 bottle of Chianti, and it came out great.

Making cocktails at home

May 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

This week, I stayed in my kitchen. My roommates and I like to play around with drink concoctions when we’re feeling too cheap or lazy to leave. With my final week of college right around the corner, I’m looking back on all of my favorite DIY drinks.

Tackling first is my favorite drink-of-choice: the mojito. The best one I’ve ever had was when I was in Granada, Spain this past summer. What made it so tasty, I think, is the raw brown sugar in it. It gave it a certain sweetness that regular sugar doesn’t. Here’s my favorite recipe.

My favorite drink of choice: mojitos. | Photo by Thu Pham

1.25 oz spiced rum (I like Captain Morgan)
10-12 mint leaves
1 tbsp sugar in the raw
0.5 oz fresh lime juice (heck, toss the lime wedge in there if you want)
2 oz club soda

Put all the ingredients in a shaker half full of ice, and shake! You might want to save some mint sprigs to garnish it with, but I usually scrap everything from the shaker into the glass.

Like with any drink, there are several modifications that can be made. You can use white rum instead of dark or spiced, vary the number of mint leaves (I like a LOT), add more sugar if you want it sweeter, or replace club soda with Sprite to give it more sweetness.

This next drink has no name because this happened when I was throwing leftover drink mixers together. I’m a big fan of strawberry cocktails, so when all I had left over was some red grenadine, Sprite, vodka, sweet and sour mix, and strawberries. So I made a vamped up version of a cherry vodka sour, but with Sprite and strawberries. It’s really fruity, but so delicious.

A glorified cherry vodka sour..with strawberries. | Photo by Thu Pham

2 parts vodka
2 part Sprite
1 part sweet and sour mix
A splash (or a part if you want) of grenadine
4 halved strawberries

Just throw ’em all in there and mix! Like with any other drink combination, it’s up to you how you want to modify it. I find that measuring drinks is a bit cumbersome, so I tend to just throw things in until I get to the flavor I want. And for the vodka, I would just use Svedka. Sure, Grey Groose is good, but we’re not ballin’ over here.

Cain & Abel’s offers dollar beers, huge Texas teas

April 25, 2011 § 5 Comments

Monday – Friday 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. $1 off pints
Sunday $2.50 wells
Monday 7:00 p.m.- 2 a.m. – $2 pints
Tuesday 7:00 p.m. – 2 a.m. – $1 beer
Wednesday $3.50 margs
Thursday 7:00 p.m. – 2 a.m. – $6 Texas teas

The Bevo tea, which is also in a mason jar, is actually not included in the specials, but this gives a good idea of the size. | Photo by Thu Pham

Cain & Abel’s, located on corner of 24th Street and Rio Grande, is a well-known place to students at the University of Texas. With that said, don’t be surprised if most of the goers are college students. Especially during the fall semester during football season, Cain’s is packed. However, if you’re in the mood for strong drinks at a chill bar located in the heart of West Campus, Cain’s is your best bet.

Most widely known for their Thursday Texas Teas from those outside their regular patron circle, I would recommend just coming here on Thursday. Their Texas Teas at a little hefty at $8, but it’s gigantic and very strong. I would equate the strength of their drinks to those at Trudy’s. Pricey, but you get a lot.

Its bar food is very mediocre, so I would actually suggest eating beforehand to save yourself a couple of bucks. With a Plucker’s located one block down, I would much rather eat there. There’s also outdoor seating and pool area with plenty of TVs. Cain’s dollar beer on Tuesday nights is very popular, however, I find the crowd that night to be too overwhelming for me.

The best happy hour mobile application

April 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

GoTime's free Happy Hour mobile application for iPhone. | Photo by Thu Pham

One of my favorite on-the-go resources to find happy hours spots is through the Happy Hours application from GoTime. I’ve played around with several location apps, such as Yelp!, Google Places, Where, and AroundMe, but while those apps are very good for restaurants searching, they aren’t very comprehensive when it comes to happy hours. The Happy Hour application, first and foremost, is free and available to iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Mobile Web users.

It’s not available in every city, but luckily Austin is one of them. It’s quite simple—turn it on at anytime, and it will use the GPS on your phone to locate where you are. From there, it will compile a long list of HH spots going on around you at that moment. You can also set it to find specials at another time (say, later tonight at 5 p.m.). The data compiled by GoTime is pretty amazing—if you click on a bar’s profile, it will give you all the specials for any day of week, its ratings, websites, and there’s even a place for you to report an incorrect special if it’s listed. That just ensures that the specials are accurate.

One of its best (as if all of its features weren’t amazing on their own) features is its search filter. You can filter by food or drink specials. Or cuisine type: African, American, Asian. It even goes all the way down to vegan, wings, tapas, and wraps. Or you can filter your results through features you want: bottle service, free wi-fi, or outdoor seating? Lastly, you can filter your results by atmosphere: do you want it to be laid back or romantic? What I find incredibly convenient is that you can select multiple filters at once.

If you don’t have this app, I highly recommend you download it now and put it to use.

The search results from Happy Hours. | Photo by Thu Pham

Freddie’s Place $2 drinks are almost too good to be true

April 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Weekdays 4-7pm, all day Monday
Half price appetizers
$2.00 Well Drinks
$2.00 Frozen Margaritas
$2.00 Frozen Jack & Lemonade
$2.00 Tall Boys (Lone Star, Hi-Life & PBR)

The backyard area of Freddie's Place was buzzing with activity during happy hour. | Photo by Thu Pham

The frozen Jack & lemonade was disappointing, but nonetheless cheap. | Photo by Thu Pham

I don’t know if I’m speaking too soon by saying that Freddie’s Place might just be my new favorite happy hour joint. Located on south 1st St between Monroe St. and Annie St., Freddie’s is a super casual American comfort food restaurant with good, simple food and drinks, a huge backyard and tons of fun events.

I went here with my roommates on Friday for happy hour and was overwhelmed at how packed it was—the place was buzzing with activity, live music and tons of pets roaming around in the backyard. The frozen lime margarita was a good size—not tiny, not exactly a red solo cup either. The Jack & lemonade was good, but there seemed to be more ice than drink. We slurped everything we could and there was a chunk of ice at the bottom. It also tasted overwhelming like Splenda, so I wasn’t too big of a fan.

The "three amigos" was a mere $4.50. | Photo by Thu Pham

The biggest win for Freddie’s, hands down, is their half off appetizers. The well-sized portions of chicken tenders, wings, and chips and dip were incredibly affordable—all the appetizers were under $5. I would highly recommend Freddie’s if you just want to chill outside (or inside) with cheap drinks and even cheaper food.

The 16 piece buffalo wings were extremely saucy and under $7. | Photo by Thu Pham