Not your dad’s milkshake…but maybe your great great granddad’s

shakeRemember when a frosty milkshake cost just a nickel? Neither do I. But this Thursday, Brooklyn hot spot The Bell House (149 7th St., Brooklyn–map) is putting those bygone deals to shame, offering their take on the shake free of charge, starting at 9 PM.

A shot of history: back when milkshakes were invented in the late 19th century, they were often used as health tonics, fighting consumption with one key ingredient: whiskey. Pesky prohibition did away with the whiskey-laced shake, but it couldn’t wipe it from our memory entirely (in fact, Prohibition probably made everyone’s memory a bit clearer).

makersThe Bell House’s vanilla whiskey shake is a throwback to the good old days. And they ain’t using rotgut, either. They’re mixing their shakes with Maker’s Mark, aged at least five and a half years in weathered oak barrels to create a bourbon of consistently outstanding quality, one of the best to come out of Kentucky. The stuff’s not cheap, so tip your tender well. After all, she may be helping you fight off the TB, or at least a nasty case of sobriety.

The tip, from MyOpenBar.com

The happy hour that comes once a year

cheapshotzOnce you pass 21, each successive birthday gets a bit more depressing: you’re another year past your prime, and it’s even less socially acceptable to hang out in trashy dive bars looking for cheap drinks. But as my birthday approaches this week, social mores don’t stand a chance in the face of a unique East Village offer: free drinks, all night.

As my friend and fellow pennywatcher Frank pointed out just two months ago on the anniversary of his birth, Cheap Shots (140 1st Ave., Manhattan–map) will pour you anything on tap, in a can, or on the shelf (except Patron) for the night’s duration. All you need is an ID showing that it is, in fact, your birthday.

Of course, the place is a rather dank hole, so you’ll want the company of a lot of friends. Luckily, Cheap Shots has enticements for paying customers as well, like $3 16 ounce cans of PBR, pitchers of Yeungling for $7, and shots as cheap as $2. That’s enough reason for everyone to get a little happy; at least in the morning, you’ll have an excuse.

Happy Hour of the Week: drinks to Coo over

cooventsThe guys at Coovents.com have been making it their business to point you to the best happy hours in New York at any given time (as of 10:22 on a Thursday morning, it’s $3.50 Bud and Coors at O’Hanlons in the East Village). Tonight they’re proving they know a good happy hour by throwing their own.

The first official Coovents Get Happy Hour is tonight from 8-10 at Tonic East (411 3rd Ave, Manhattan–map). Just show up, and your first drink is free–no lists, RSVPs, or covers required. Because the Coovents staff are gentlemen (or desperate, you decide), ladies keep drinking for free from 8-9.

If you’re near Gramercy, make sure you check it out. There’s no better way to pay tribute to a useful website then to hit them up for free booze (The Penny Palate Happy Hour has been postponed indefinitely due to, um, the recession or something).

Happy Hour of the Week: George Washington would have drunk here

clong_islandFort Greene, Brooklyn (called Fort Putnam at the time), played a key role in shielding George Washington’s retreat during the Battle of Brooklyn. Could there be a better place to celebrate our fearless commander and first president’s birthday? This year, a brand new pub has enlisted to help.

bphBrooklyn Public House (247 DeKalb Ave., Brooklyn–map) is the project of three Fort Greene residents who turned a deserted old candy shop into a first-rate pub serving comfort food (wings, ribs, pan pizza), 16 tap beers, and 35 bottles. It’s opening to the public for the first time tonight.

While I recommend checking it out ASAP, the real Happy Hour of the Week comes on Sunday–the mid-point of your three day weekend (if your job doesn’t suck). After a blessing by a priest, BPH will host an open bar from 6 to 8, and throw in some samples from the food menu as well. If you happen to ring in President’s Day with a hangover, just be glad you’re not eating hard-tack and using dirt for coffee grounds.

the tip, from Thrillist

Your taste to price ratio is inefficient

An actual conversation I overheard last year:

bombaysapphire23-year-old financial consultant: I can’t just order a gin and tonic in a bar. They’ll give me well liquor. Now I order Bombay and tonic.
Coworker: Good call.
Consultant: Yeah, except the last time they poured me regular Bombay. When I say Bombay, you should know I mean Bombay Sapphire.

Of course, in a blind taste test this fragile-egoed young gentleman could never tell the two apart. In fact, according to a recent entry in the New York Times Proof Blog, the precious nectar he shells out for is often the same old well liquor, just poured into a comely aqua-marine bottle on the sly.

It’s a trick called a “downpour”, explains former barkeep Brian McDonald, and it’s common practice in many bars throughout the city. McDonald downpoured for three years, and only one person ever tasted the difference between top shelf liquor and its well counterpart. The accuser then watched McDonald pour the exact same well gin and tonic, but the second time he saw it come from a top shelf bottle. His new drink tasted just right.

gordonsThe lesson: if you’re ordering top-shelf liquor, you’re probably getting played. If you really find well booze unpalatable, find a middle ground that tastes great, but isn’t expensive enough to be worth downpouring. Our consultant friend should swallow his pride and order Gordon’s, which Esquire just named the best budget gin at $15 a liter. Of course, he wouldn’t be caught dead reading this site anyway.

Last minute Happy Hour of the Week

ellisbar

This one is too good to pass up. Ellis Bar (627 5th Ave., Brooklyn–map), a recently-opened restaurant/bar in South Park Slope, is just shamelessly seeking attention. Tonight, Friday January 23, they’re hosting a bash and serving 1 cent Harpoon drafts, 1 cent shots of Jager, Soco, and house bourbon, and 1 cent cocktails, including margaritas and my favorite, caipirinhas.

If that’s not generous enough, they’ll also serve up chicken wings, sandwiches, and samplers, FOR FREE. As I said, completely shameless. The party starts tonight at 9, and every penny pincher with his or her head in the game will be there.

Happy Hour of the Week: Continental

continentalYuengling is America’s oldest beer, first brewed in Pennsylvania in 1829. Sundays through Thursdays from 8 pm to 4 am, you can get it for some old-fashioned prices. Continental (25 3rd Ave, Manhattan–map), just off of Astor Place, sells Yuengling for that whole stretch for only $1.50 a pint.

Combine that with their standard any five shots for $10 deal and you’re set for a night that you won’t remember. But when you wake up in the morning, you’ll probably still have some cash in your wallet.