Finding Cheap Drinks Downtown
Inside Hank's Bar, a step back in time at the Stillwell Hotel.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Rumblings of a second coming of a recession is enough of a reason to look for good drinking deals. When dives ruled Downtown, it was easy. Now the influx of artisan cocktail lounges with master mixologists has driven up the median cost of getting a beer or cocktail. Fortunately there are some hidden spots to patronize with lesser-known specials around Downtown Los Angeles. Here is a guide I call the Budget Buzz.
BACK DOOR PUB: Hidden in the back of the Ritz-Milner hotel—no affiliation to the Ritz-Carlton / JW Marriott at L.A. Live—Back Door Pub is a working-man’s type of joint: mellow with zero pretention.
Drinks are cheap and free popcorn flows for the hard-core locals that frequent this place.
Well drinks are always $5, domestic beers $4 and imports $5. Essentially, with no drink over $7, these are happy hour prices for all hours of operation.
Back Door Pub’s hours have expanded due to the recent surge in patrons and one can befriend them on Facebook, where you can discover even deeper deals on daily specials.
Hours are 11:30 to 9:00pm, Monday to Wednesday from 11:30 to 2am, Thursday and Friday and 6pm to 11pm on Saturday. 813 S. Flower
BAR 107: A staple for long-time locals, Bar 107 is a mélange of hipsters, yuppies and shady characters. The vibe here is generally upbeat with the slight hint that a bar fight might break out at any minute. It never does, but it makes for an always-entertaining evening. Unique promo nights like Gong Show Karaoke on Wednesdays and special Yacht Rock DJ themes pack the house. Always cheap prices like $2 Olympias, $5 tall boy PBRs and $5 well drinks are added reasons to visit.
Happy hour runs 3-8pm during the week and prices drop even further, equating to $3 well drinks, $5 anything (including top shelf) and $4 Makers Mark. 107 W. 4th
BIG WANGS: To solidify its place in the sports-bar circuit, Big Wangs has not one but two rounds of happy hour specials. Monday through Friday features half-off appetizers to be washed down with $4 well drinks and $3 pints. The late night happy hour from 10pm to midnight sees the return of these very same drink prices.
A large fire pit in the patio and approximately 30 widescreen LCD’s makes this place a staple for the new football season. 801 S. Grand
BROADWAY BAR: This Downtown landmark runs a special happy hour along with a new blend of entertainment to draw in the locals.
All night specials run on Tuesday nights with prices at $3 for domestic beers, $4 for imports or drafts and $5 for well drinks and top shelf at $6 (normal happy hours run 5-8pm Wednesday through Friday). Wednesdays also feature $4 well drinks all night, along with live jazz, beat poetry and DJs spinning new and old school jazz. Thursdays features $3 pints of Stella from 10pm to 2am accompanied by a DJ spinning classic reggae, R&B and 80’s hits. 830 S. Broadway
CAMPERS CORNER: I doubt there is a Downtown bar that can really call itself a dive bar when compared to Campers Corner, which looks more like a employee lounge for Downtown’s darker streetlife than a bar. I can only assume the drinks are cheaper here than anywhere else in DTLA because I am too concerned that I will get shanked by a rusty butter-knife. I have yet to have a drink here. 724 E. 7th
THE DOWN N OUT: Think Bar 107 on a Dave and Busters scale. Large room, long bar, pool tables and a large street side patio, The Down N Out lives up to its name.
The crowd here can be a bit on the rowdy side, as proven by the elaborate frisking you will endure at the door. Often the crowd ends up being jovial locals from all walks of life. Pool tables and booth seating around the perimeter prove ideal for long drinking sessions—all enabled by the cheap prices. 501 S. Spring
DUBLINS: Leading the cheap charge and a large inspiration for this story, Dublins is now open and frolicking on the west end of 7th street here in Downtown. 65 choices of beer delivered from 100 taps at a constant happy hour price of $3 makes Dublins a no-brainer for those on a budget. Well drinks range from $4 to $5, and $7 for top shelf. 815 W. 7th
GOLDEN GOPHER: Sunday and Monday are an all-day happy hour at The Gopher, featuring their ever-changing selection of draft beer. These pints are $4 and often highlight some of the best microbrews found in Downtown.
As of press time the collection included: Stella, Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat, Negra Modelo, Hoegaarden, Racer 5 IPA and Fat Tire. If $4 is breaking the bank you can always opt for a $3 PBR, normally $5. Well drinks and featured call shots are $5 during happy hour and everything else is $2 off. After the all-day Sunday and Monday special, Gopher’s happy hour resumes for Thursday and Friday. 417 W. 8th
HANK’S BAR: It is like stepping back in time. Hank’s firmly holds on to the image of what a Downtown bar was like back in the day. Located in the lobby of the Stillwell Hotel, this place is so bad it’s good. Like many old-school joints they don’t recognize a happy hour. They just run on cheap prices. Draft beers are $4.50, well drinks come in at $6 and domestic bottles are $3.50. The prices are low, but not the lowest and the vibe is very hit and miss.
I rarely come here and when I do, it is because I am stumbling out of Big Wangs or ordering food to-go from Gil’s Indian at the back of the hotel. 840 S. Grand
KING EDDY SALOON: Lying in the doorway to Skid Row, King Eddy hands down has the cheapest drinks Downtown, and purportedly all of Los Angeles.
Draft beers are a mere $2.75, well drinks are only $2.50, domestic beers are $2.50 and pitchers are $9. If that’s too rich for your blood, you can always scrape through your couch cushions and wrestle up enough change for a 7oz bottle at $1.25.
The vibe is definitely sketchy, but that can be fun if you come with a group (and stay with that group). Some colorful characters hover near the door to quickly accost nervous caged smokers, but an ever present security guard keeps most of the trouble at bay. 131 E. 5th
LAS PERLAS: Undoubtedly the nicest bar in this list, Las Perlas honors drinking on a budget with a $6 Cadillac Margarita that is available all night on Mondays. $4 Tijuana microbrews (I know. . .who knew?) are also available, as well as $2 off the wide variety of artisanal cocktails. 107 E. 6th
SPRING STREET: Kudos have to be given to Spring St. for one of the more creative ways to offer discounts to locals only. If you are a proud holder of a DTLA Resident card—available at dtlaresident.com—you can wave your local status and receive a Downtown Brown Ale for a mere $4. This creative Downtown special is good all the time. Standard happy hours feature a rotating $4 beer special, $5 wells and well shots for $6. Happy Hour runs nightly from 5-8pm. 626-B S. Spring
Know of a special place with cheap drinks or a Happy Hour not listed here? Let us know in the comments.