15 lipsmacking cocktails for $5 and under

Pub date March 6, 2012
WriterSoojin Chang
SectionPixel Vision

Screw on your drinking hats, cheapos — we tracked down 15 watering holes that’ll leave you toasted, in a financially stable kind of way. 

1. Tempest Bar’s $5 boilermaker

A shot of Jim Beam in a pint of PBR. Is this a terrible idea? Yes. Should you do it anyways? Yes. 

431 Natoma. (415) 495-1863

2. Phone Booth’s $4 tequila sunrise 

It’s a small place, but is embellished with awesome décor, cute bartenders, an eclectic mix of people, and really strong, cheap drinks. Their jukebox will have you coming back for more.  

1398 S. Van Ness, SF. (415) 648-4683

3. Moby Dick’s $6 2-for-1 margaritas 

Put both straws in your mouth, ease in to your brain freeze, and distract yourself with any of the three music videos playing on the screen overhead — a flawless solution for the worst of dates. 

4049 18th St., SF. (415) 861-1199, www.mobydicksf.com

4. Edinburgh Castle Pub’s $5 Jameson and coke 

It kind of looks like a barn — and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a dive bar with a second floor, and is a fun place to go with a big group of friends.  

950 Geary, SF. (415) 885-4074, www.castlenews.com


5. Gold Cane Cocktail Lounge’s $4 bloody mary

The back patio here makes you forget you’re in a bar and feel like you’re in someone else’s backyard. The bartenders are sweet, the regulars always have a crazy story or four to share, and there’s free books in the back. 

1569 Haight, SF. (415) 626-1112

6. Butter’s $5 trailer tea 

Trailer tea, for those who were wondering, is sweet tea vodka. Butter also serves Prom Night punch in mason jars and has deep-fried Twinkies and SpaghettiOs. 

354 11th St., SF. (415) 863-5964, www.smoothasbutter.com 

7. You See Sushi’s $2.75 hot sake 

Now you see it, now you don’t. Your third round of sake will bring a whole new meaning to the restaurant’s name. 

94 Judah, SF. (415) 681-4010, www.youseesushi.com 

8. The Blue Light’s $3 SF Giant’s shot 

There’s not as much blue light as you think there would be, which is kind of disappointing. But their SF Giant’s shot — Harlem liqueur mixed with orange soda — will make you forget all of that anyway. 

1979 Union, SF. (415) 922-5510, www.thebluelightsf.com 

9. Delaney’s $4 vodka cranberry

A wonderful breath of dive bar air away from the typical Marina bars. Fully quipped with a jukebox, popcorn machine, and a Galaga/Pacman sit-down video game. 

2241 Chestnut, SF. (415) 931-8529 

10. Tornado’s $5 pomegranate cider 

This is a no-nonsense kind of bar. Know what you’re going to order, grab your drink, and gulp it down with a sausage from Rosamunde next door. 

547 Haight. (415) 863-2276, www.tornado.com

11. Lucky 13’s $4 whiskey sour

This dimly lit bar has cheap drinks, a good looking juke box, and free movie-grade popcorn (think butter). And the cutest dogs show up too.  

2140 Market, SF. (415) 487-1313 

12. Mission Bar’s $4 Manhattan

The red “BAR” sign that hangs outside lets you know this place gets straight to the point. Forget about names, just drink your drink. 

2695 Mission, SF. (415) 647-2300 

13. Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Cafe’s $5 dirty vodka martini 

Postcards from around the world adorn the walls, a bluesy pianist playing in the corner, and an old school vibe that will take you back. 

12 William Saroyan, SF. (415) 421-4112 


14. Pittsburgh’s Pub’s $4 Ketel One and tonic 

If you ever fall asleep on the N-Judah and end up at the end of the Muni line, pick yourself up with any of the many cheap drinks at Pittsburgh’s Pub. 

4207 Judah, SF. (415) 664-3926 


15. Lexington Club’s $1 Margarita Fridays 

The only time it is perfectly okay to drink five margaritas in one sitting is at Lexington before 10 p.m. on Fridays. 

3464 19th St., SF. (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com