Birthdays: Nix the cover charge, or lose your Benjamins fast

Birthdays are great. If you have half decent friends, they’ll buy you at least one drink, and if you have great friends they’ll insist you don’t pay for anything (Ryan’s Note: I just recently had a birthday and I strongly recommend you have at least one a year).While both of us have already experienced our 21st and the first anniversaries of our 21st, we decided to lend our sage-like wisdom to a freshly legal friend of ours last Tuesday.He had chosen to go to McGillins Olde Ale House at 13th and Drury streets, one of the city’s oldest pubs. While the pitcher prices change depending on the day, on a busy weekend you’ll never pay more than $6.50 for a pitcher of Miller Lite. Luckily, we were there in the middle of the week and everything was going for $5.Shortly after we arrived, our friend was well on his way to a blackout … err, super night! We split a pitcher and got our friend a B-52, totaling about $9 including tip.After another round and more shots, he was still pretty sober and we were getting close to $20.Things were looking grim as our wallets were emptying. Luckily for us, creepy old guys were hanging out at the bar that night.For the uninitiated, creepy old guys are a prime source of free booze. When two 40-plus year olds overheard us toasting to our friend’s 21st, they decided to take charge of getting him drunk.The shots they bought him were not exactly classy (or expensive), but it definitely helped make it a memorable night for our friend (if he remembers it), and it hurt their wallets, not ours.On Friday, our newly turned 21-year-old friend got the birth-week treatment with a large group of people who couldn’t make it to the celebration on his actual birthday.We knew some people who worked at Kildare’s Pub on 2d and South streets, so we went there counting on a hook up. Unfortunately, we had no such luck.Kildare’s is a chain of Irish bars, with the Manayunk location at 44th and Main streets being the most popular. The new South Street location has the same atmosphere and the same high prices. After paying a $5 cover, (Ryan and Corey’s Note: Down with covers!) we found out the only drink special for the night was $5 Car bombs, which is normally a decent price for a Car bomb, but not on top of a cover charge.With only $15 left to spend and the whole night ahead of us, we decided to take the quick and dirty route by ordering Long Island iced teas.After two Long Islands and one Car bomb, we felt pretty nice, but then we saw our bill and we had broken our limit!The Long Islands came out to $6 each, including tip, so we were a few dollars over. However, we’re good people and decided that friendship was worth breaking the rules, but just this once.(Corey’s Note: Luckily my landlord showed up, and I made him buy us some beers. Cheers to being an awesome tenant).Worth it for the money? McGillins certainly is. And having a birthday comes in handy when there are creepy old guys trying to feel young again.Do not feel bad taking advantage of them, especially when your tab begins to approach the $20 limit.Our beef? Week-long celebrations can take a toll on your wallet, especially when you end up at a place like Kildare’s that expects you to pay $4.25 for a pint of Lager after you paid a cover. Seriously, what is that?Ryan Barlow can be reached at and Corey Fenwick can be reached at

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