By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
Michael hasn't worn long pants since relocating from Connecticut three years back. The burly barkeep can't really even remember the last time he saw a dollar deal. "Somewhere up north."
"It's sad," I offer. "Things are just getting so expensive everywhere."
"Especially in Miami," he says. "Miami. Holy shit. I had two friends that went to some place there on the beach. They had these big monster drinks, they each got one, got a backup. It was $100 for four frozen drinks. They paid for ice basically. Can you imagine that? One hundred dollars?" Before darting down the bar to fill an order, Michael turns back my way. "If you want to be a fucking baller, go to Miami."
I crawl north through Broward. Walsh's Irish Sports Bar is about five minutes up Federal Highway. I'm not inside for 15 minutes before the owner, Teri Walsh, has me by the hand heading for the back, where framed photos cover the wall. In a group shot of an '80s softball team, the entire boy-girl squad wears green jerseys printed with "McGowan's." Squatting down front is a man beaming through a Magnum P.I. 'stache. Something's poking from his short-shorts.
"There's his balls there," Walsh tells me. "That's why this picture is famous."
A middle-aged woman with wild, curly blond hair, she takes in the grainy shot. "He's dead, he's dead, he's dead, he's dead," she says, slapping at people in the picture. The drinkers here have introduced one another to future spouses, raised kids together, and — inevitably — buried the ones who've passed. There's a mournful sag in the good times when she mentions the bar's late handyman, Biff — "He never married, never had a family," says Walsh, who considered Biff a second father for 30 years. "We were his extended family.
"A bar is just like a church," she says. "It's not four walls; it's the people."
In just a minute of breathing the mentholated air during happy hour, I can tell Walsh's isn't so much a beer joint as a lineage. Back in the '80s, a crew of drinkers attached themselves to McGowan's, a bar at Hollywood Boulevard and A1A. Eddie McGowan, the fun-loving, accordion-playing owner, kept the party going. Walsh was his manager. "I basically grew up there," the Long Island native says. "I was a teenager when I started there."
When McGowan died in 2003, the bar slipped to new ownership. Changes came. To preserve the bar's good-time DNA, Walsh opened her own place, first the Dry Dock in 2003, then Walsh's in 2007. The crowd followed.
But sadly, Walsh's doesn't have The Draft. The closest is a $2.50 happy-hour pint. "I'm sitting here between Cracktown and Hookerville," Walsh cries defensively. "Do you know what kind of people would show up if I had dollar drafts?"
From Walsh's, my hunt takes me north to Grady's in downtown Fort Lauderdale. At midafternoon, nearly every barstool is filled with guffawing regulars. Classic rock blurts from the speakers. But again, nothing flows from the tap for a buck — and it hasn't since the mid-'90s, when the bar last had a dollar beer special.
"Do people ever come around asking for dollar drafts?"
"No," the lady working the tap tells me. "That's like saying, 'Can I have 1995's prices today?'"
"It's kind of bumming me out I can't find any," I confess to the old guy sitting one stool over. Casper-haired and bespectacled, he looks me over, opens his mouth, and begins declaiming in a rich British accent. "Well, I come from Europe, so I've had a one-euro beer. It's just one or two places. But you can get a pint."
"That's a long fucking way to go to get a dollar beer!" chortles a bearded neighbor in a Green Bay Packers hat. "I don't think you are going to save a lot of money going over there."
Packers rummages around his memory banks. "Growing up in Milwaukee, I remember this place on Connecticut Avenue where beer was 15 cents. There's a place."
Judging by the wear and tear on Green Bay's face, he's talking about sometime in the Kennedy administration. Right about now, all my hopes for this project are pretty much in the trash can. If the golden deal is not to be found in a place sporting the All-American bona fides of Grady's, does it exist at all?
Peggy manages to take my spirits off life support. She has no idea where I might find a dollar draft ("If you find some, come back"), but she's like the Mother Hen at Grady's. "I made the broccoli cauliflower cheddar soup," she tells me proudly.
Peggy has worked there 14 years. She's the assistant manager. She pours drinks one shift a week, but today she's on the other side of the counter, fueling up on a few afternoon pops herself.
She oozes full-bore love for the place. "It's a great bar," she explains. "It's your local neighborhood dive. People just want to go into a bar and hang out with their friends they've known for years."
She mentions a couple of regulars who've passed on. There's a tree out back where a portion of their ashes have been scattered. "And we have a plaque there with their names on it."
Lol wow this was such an interesting read . I don't even like reading stories in the paper n shit but this was exceptional
A little bit of Philly in Miami Springs...$2 (14 oz) Drafts...AND the best Philly Cheesesteak in town.
Any American Legion post has $1.50 draft (yuengling, amber bock, bud/bud light, and miller) all day every day!
Yep, times are changing. When I was younger, people would do slum bar crawls and have private parties and drink case after case of this cheap watered down beer, get bloated and often gotten sick and many times they would throw up. Now people spend more money drinking stronger better beer and they are conservative and careful on what they drink, and they actually appreciate the beer that they do consume.
Great read. I really felt like I was back in South Florida. My favorite was "No, bro. You should probably go home."
The drink$ in Miami are way too high! It should be considered price gouging to charge 6,7,8$ for a beer in this city!