Cocktails & Spirits

Sandbar's Annual Alfest Trades Charity for Cheap Booze

What better way to help people out than a neighborhood bar crawl with 500 do-gooders?

This Saturday, the 13th annual Alfest will take hundreds of thirsty philanthropists to eight bars in Coconut Grove. The event will benefit Camp Boggy Creek, a year-round place for seriously ill children in South Florida, and Children Battling Cancer, a group of Hollywood's Joe DiMaggio Hospital that helps families with costs that insurance doesn't cover.

For $25, you get a T-shirt and a coupon for a free drink at each participating bar. "You could care less about giving, and it's still a great deal," said Sandbar Owner Albert Barrero. "And once you start drinking, it's hard not to have a good time."

The crawl starts at 5 p.m. for registration at Sandbar, the event's main sponsor, and officially takes off at 7 p.m. Then it's on to Tavern, Barracuda, the Grove Spot, Central Beer Garden, the Burgundy Room, Grove Central, and Mr. Moe's. Coupons can only be used between certain hours at each bar, ensuring the group stays together.

The name "Alfest" started as a joke for Barrero's birthday 25 years ago. It didn't become a neighborhood charity event until years later, when a woman whose daughter has leukemia overheard Barrero and a friend shooting around ideas. "I'll be honest with you, this began with two drunk guys talking and one sober girl listening," he said. "The next day she had designed a t-shirt and people actually bought them."

Barrero, whose father and best friend both died at age 34, will start a group called Grove Cares that will host regular events to benefit cancer support groups. He has four of them in the works, and hopes to plan more.

Tickets for Alfest are available online at, or at Sandbar on the day of the event. Bigger donations are always welcome. So come out and drink for a cause, even if it's just to benefit your wallet.

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Alexandra Leon
Contact: Alexandra Leon