Once summer hits, my wallet suddenly develops a sink hole. It's beautiful outside, and it's natural to want to do everything. Staying on budget, though, becomes nearly impossible, so when you're strapped for cash but still want to go out and play, it raises a question: can $20 pay for a night out in Rochester?
In this new series, CITY will test how far a cheap night out will take you in various Rochester neighborhoods. We'll report back on where we went, what we drank, and how much we spent. Keep an eye out for more of these Cheap Drinks segments over the coming months.
For the first entry of the series, we decided to check out Neighborhood of the Arts. NOTA has become more of a destination over the last few years with the addition of Three Heads Brewing, Nosh, and Fiamma Centro. With a plethora of places to sit outside in NOTA, it made sense to start early and enjoy the sunshine for happy hour.
First stop was Three Heads (186 Atlantic Avenue), which has a giant patio, complete with cornhole boards, and typically there's a food truck parked outside. I ordered the Red Creek Sour (4.5 ABV) — most of the $5 beers are 16-ounce servings, with the exception of the higher ABV beers, which are served in 13-ounce glasses. You can also order any four 5-ounce samples for $8.
Spent: $6 ($5 plus $1 tip)
Money left: $14
Drink count: 1
Next up was Starry Nites Café (696 University Avenue) situated right where Atlantic and University Avenues meet. In addition to coffee, Starry Nites has a beer and wine selection, and I settled on a Dogfish Head SeaQuench Ale (4.9 ABV) which has now become my beer of the summer. (Sorry, Bud Light Lime; don't you judge me, beer snobs.) It's a sour ale with lime peel, black limes, and sea salt, and it is refreshing as hell. The café has plenty of tables outside, and it's a perfect spot for beer drinking and people watching.
Spent: $5.50 ($4.50 plus $1 tip)
Money left: $8.50
Drink count: 2
We headed across the street to The Bachelor Forum (670 University Avenue), the oldest gay-owned and operated bar in Rochester — and here's where things got real. After being greeted by local drag goddess Poison Waters, who just happened to be sitting outside before a show, we went inside to order a drink. Realizing that my funds were quickly depleting, I ordered a Genny (4.5 ABV), and the bartender asked me if I wanted to do the "three for two" special; for a girl on a budget, this seemed like an obvious yes. However, it would put me 50 cents over my goal. Guys, obviously I did it, but if you want to stay under the $20 mark then ordering just the single Genny leaves you with $4.50 in your pocket to spare. The Bachelor Forum has outdoor seating as well as darts and a pool table.
Spent: $9 ($8 plus $1 tip)
Money left: $0
Drink count: 5
So it can be done (ish): five drinks for $20.50. C'mon, you can find 50 cents under your couch cushions. If you want to add some food to the mix, Salena's Mexican Restaurant (Village Gate, 302 North Goodman Street) has chips and salsa for $1.50 and $4 drafts of Modelo Especial (4.4 ABV) — a margarita will cost you $7.
Do you have recommendations for neighborhoods and cheap drinks we should check out in the future? Leave us your suggestions in the comments below.