In other words, "the cost of a lot of beer now at wholesale prohibits any sane person from selling that for a dollar," says Adam Gersten, owner of hipster watering hole Gramps in Wynwood. "If people are coming in to drink a dollar beer for three hours during happy hour and then leaving, you never really make any money."

"This is your work? Researching beer deals?"

Besides being a bar owner, the 37-year-old Miami native is PhD-level when it comes to Miami's drinking scene, with insider info on everything from where you can get a Sierra Nevada bottle for two bucks (Mike's) to $1 happy-hour oysters (Monty's). Still, when I quiz him about dollar drafts, he blanks.

"The only places that would be able to do it are places that own their own building," Gersten muses, "have everything paid off, and that have been doing a dollar beer since the '80s."

Behold Valhalla: The Wayside Inn.
Kyle Swenson
Behold Valhalla: The Wayside Inn.

He joins me on a night of my quest. We figure our best bet in mainland Miami-Dade would be the bars clinging to the University of Miami. With a New Times intern manning the wheel, we safari at happy hour, first hitting Barracuda Bar & Grill on Fuller Street — where the special is $2 for a Coors Light. (Wednesday special: $2 pitchers).

Around the corner, Sand Bar is known to have an infamous panty-dropping penny beer night on Wednesdays. Just shy of 7 p.m., the bar fills with happy hour's first responders — middle-aged men with oven-baked faces and red-starburst eyes, liquor-loud and back-slappy.

I hit the tube-topped, college-aged waitress with my question. She bounces back with what I'll soon get to know as The Look.

Field Lesson Number Two: When you ask someone for a dollar draft, their service-industry smile deflates, and they eye you like you've busted through a loose seam in space-time. "No."

"A dollar beer is like a magical number that people have in their minds as this great deal," Gersten consoles me eventually. "But it's unrealistic in this day and age, like a loaf of bread that's 15 cents."

Over the next few weeks, I worry he might be right. I discover that the high churches of Miami's dive bar scene — from Club Deuce to Mike's to Off the Wagon to the Happy Stork — don't have The Draft. What's worse, that short list is losing members quick. Lush, on 12th Street and Washington in South Beach, had a regular dollar deal until it closed this summer after the landlord raised the rent. The Ukulele Bar up on Biscayne Boulevard near Miami Shores didn't have The Draft, but you could hardly pass happy hour without the bartender slipping you a freebie. It closed in December so the building can be knocked down for a Fiat dealership.

I sink into despair, imaging a future 305 scrubbed clean not only of The Draft but of all dive bars. Now, at each bar I visit, I just ask what I can get for a dollar. It's just me and Mr. Washington, fencing with The Look. Nada. Zip. Nothing.

And then, I hit. One afternoon, the bartender at Lester's in Wynwood gives me a Narragansett tallboy, usually tagged at $2 at happy hour, for a buck.

But it's bittersweet. Turns out, Lester's shutters the next day, another consumer-friendly outlet nuked off the map by the cost of doing business. Almost hopeless now, I ask the bartender if he knows anywhere I could get a dollar draft.

"I have no idea," he answers. "I'm guessing somewhere in Broward."


The Lamp Post Lounge — a two-story building trimmed in evergreen paint — sits in Hollywood, just north of the Miami-Dade/Broward County line, on a run of Federal Highway where you can get your engine cylinders cleaned for $20 and still bang a hooker with the change. Looks like the kind of place I might find The Draft.

Inside, a Jesse Ventura look-alike in a Detroit Lions jersey, fresh from Michigan, is shaking his huge head. "But isn't Fort Lauderdale the same thing as Miami? It's just a few miles away."

"Nononononono," the lady corrects, waving her Budweiser bottle and cigarette in the air. She's plowing into the middle of her 50s, with hair the color, consistency, and shape of a dried-out Christmas tree. "They are not the same," she spits. "It's completely different. This is not Miami. Every morning, we get up to hear about who just got shot last night in Miami on the news. That's Miami. It's a different country."

This is a special type of South Florida watering hole: landing pad for snowbirds. Up and down the kidney-shaped bar, the faces all have that pink look from the first kiss of sun. On an NFL Sunday like today, the jerseys are from all over the place: Detroit, New York, San Diego. Women pass cooking tips that are unmistakably Midwestern. ("I always say just throw everything into a Crock-Pot.")

But a draft Bud Light at the Lamp Post rings up at $2.25. Behind the counter, the bartender, Michael, just shakes his head with awe when I ask my now-standard question. "A dollar beer?" he muses. "It's 25 bucks just for a case of beer now."

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75 comments
Lynxx3
Lynxx3

Great story Kyle. 

danny_geee
danny_geee

Lol wow this was such an interesting read . I don't even like reading stories in the paper n shit but this was exceptional

barnyard2217
barnyard2217

You can't get a glass of panther piss for a $1 in S.Florida.

Aldo Malbec
Aldo Malbec

Gone to Puerto Rico. All day everyday!

Zalykha Maria
Zalykha Maria

Jorgie Chamorro I can't show my face there ever since I was accused of wearing a wig

Marco Zug
Marco Zug

Tall PBR at @lostwekeend miami beach

Jorgie Chamorro
Jorgie Chamorro

Zalykha Maria omg remember this bitch from Veterans!! lol

Andrew West
Andrew West

you can get 1dollar beers on old cheney highway in Orlando fl

Eddy Carballo
Eddy Carballo

A little bit of Philly in Miami Springs...$2 (14 oz) Drafts...AND the best Philly Cheesesteak in town.

Gonzalo del Barrio
Gonzalo del Barrio

Catch of the Day in Dolphin Mall has dollar domestics every day from 3pm-7pm

Luis Ricardo Lopez
Luis Ricardo Lopez

Is La Covacha still doing $1 beers on Fridays during happy hour?

Marco Ruiz
Marco Ruiz

When you find it be sure you let me know !

Stephanie Calzadilla
Stephanie Calzadilla

$1 beer and everything else on the menu at 100 Montaditos every Wednesday! All locations

Nick Bernal
Nick Bernal

Any American Legion post has $1.50 draft (yuengling, amber bock, bud/bud light, and miller) all day every day!

Turk Avnayim
Turk Avnayim

FTM Records ϟ Studios has Dollar Yuengling on Draft

Miguel Armenteros
Miguel Armenteros

Graziano's Market in the Gables, $1 draft beers 5-9pm Sunday - Thursday.

andycarr
andycarr

$1.25 drafts in the morning at Artie's, near Lamppost at 2218 North Federal Hwy. In Hollywood.

MuseTD
MuseTD

Good article. Colorfully written.

misterflorida2000
misterflorida2000

Yep, times are changing. When I was younger, people would do slum bar crawls and have private parties and drink case after case of this cheap watered down beer, get bloated and often gotten sick and many times they would throw up. Now people spend more money drinking stronger better beer and they are conservative and careful on what they drink, and they actually appreciate the beer that they do consume. 

Lynne Dear
Lynne Dear

$2 at the Turtle Crawl restaurant on Hollywood Beach.

Alison Alcantara
Alison Alcantara

Great read. I really felt like I was back in South Florida. My favorite was "No, bro. You should probably go home."

Meredith Eastman Argüelles
Meredith Eastman Argüelles

The drink$ in Miami are way too high! It should be considered price gouging to charge 6,7,8$ for a beer in this city!

Juan Arce
Juan Arce

Sportsgrill on birdroad and 117 avenue Robert Gow Courtney WeaverStance Mitchell

Shady King
Shady King

$1.00 beeer in Liberty city...all day !!!

Jenna Goode
Jenna Goode

Pegs pocket but it's only while you're playing pool. Doesn't hole in the wall have $1 beers?

barnyard2217
barnyard2217

Fuc Orlando, you get a knife in the heart by them illegals.

barnyard2217
barnyard2217

Bullshit, the road kill tastes like fuc'n wallpaper with cum sauce you dic heads call cheese whiz.

 
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