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Monday, December 9, 2013

Albany Birthday Freebies Survival Guide

Now that you know a lot of your options for your birthday, I thought you might want to know what to expect at some of the bars and restaurants. And, as it happens, I've have some recent experience in this topic.

Consider this your Albany Birthday Freebie Survival Guide.

First and foremost, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! This is your day. Enjoy it!

Have a DD! Some of these drinks, I admit, have no alcohol to speak of in them but there are several that will knock you on your ass. A couple that come to mind - the fish bowl Long Island ice tea at Pinto & Hobbs and Das Boot at the Biergarten, which is the equivalent of about five beers.

Speaking of the boot: the presentation of these drinks is everything. You have the 32 ounce tea cup with dry ice to make it look steaming at Olde English, and the BDAY chalice at Finnbar's, and the beautiful stein at Powers Inn.


But, with great beauty comes great responsibility. You break it you bought it. The Powers Inn bday deal used to be a glass yard til someone broke it. There's a reason the boot and tea cup have a $40 deposit.

Then, you have the opposite end of the spectrum with classiness. The City Beer Hall, for example, has embraced a simpler/redneckier tradition with their 40 ounce bottle of Olde English malt alcohol served in a paper bag.

Don't forget to eat. There are actually a decent amount of food freebies along with the Fucillo-sized drinks. There's wings at Rusty Nail and Trick Shot, a free breakfast at Denny's, and you get any item up to $10 at Daily Grind.

Don't forget to drink water! And, no, the ice in the drinks don't count. I'll get to that in a minute...

And don't forget to bring friends! They make an experience what it is.

Make new friends! You'll be able to tell who the fellow birthdayers are pretty easily. And a huge, glowing margarita is a pretty good conversational piece.

Free is not always free. Several businesses require that your party spend between $15 and $20 in order to qualify for the huge beverage. Plan accordingly.

There is also a reason these drinks are free. This, generally, is not top quality stuff. Actually - as much as I love Bootlegger's - their 100 ounce grape-flavored drink served in a huge vessel was downright horrible (I told them about it later and they said something must have been made wrong, so I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences with this on Facebook). Many of the businesses use a lot - A LOT - of sour mix, including the margarita and the purple drink of doom at Bootlegger's. But you're not drinking this stuff for the taste, you're drinking it because....uh?.... because 'merica!

On the other hand, some of the drinks were also very tasty. I enjoyed the Katie O'Byrne's fish bowl of rum punch. It was fruity and colorful when served, though eventually got a bit of a sour mix taste. And, if you like beer, there is much beer to be had at Brown's and the Van Dyck. You can choose your own beer for those samplers. At Finnbar's, you get your choice of any draft beer and at Rusty Nail you buy a blue Hawaiin or beer of your choice then you get one free.

Ice. As Sanka said in Cool Runnings - "You mean winter, as in igloos and Eskimos and penguins and ICE?" There will be ice if you're not drinking beer. Keep this in mind if you have sensitive teeth.

You will likely end up yelling at your inanimate tub of alcohol asking it multiple times why the liquid has not receded. If you do multiple drinks, at some point in the night, this will happen. FYI.

Dress appropriately. You don't have to worry too much about "dress codes" but wear something comfortable - and preferably with a stretchy waist since your stomach will get bigger.

Just bring the essentials - ID, money, house keys. You don't want to bring your favorite accessory only to get really drunk and then forget it somewhere.

Boot and rally. Google it. If you want to go the distance, you may have to do it. Probably after the boot.

You drank 120 ounces of alcohol and all you got was a lousy T-shirt. Actually, yes. And I'm damn proud of that T-shirt. You can learn more about that incentive -- also including a free slice of pizza at Sciortino's -- here.

Your birthday might not start at midnight, according to some of these businesses. I hear this all the time for Bomber's, Wolff's, and Olde English. There are some unhappy people, new to the area, who try to celebrate when their birthday officially starts but they are denied because of the rules. With these three places though, the owner has said you can email them ahead of time to request to celebrate on a day other than your birthday. Many of the other businesses are much more flexible about the midnight rule.

There are non-edible/drinkable freebies too. You get a free item of their choosing at Sephora and $5 of free play at Dave & Buster's. Both require signing up on their websites.

Plan ahead. As much as we're young and want to live in the moment and see where the night takes us, if your birthday is on a weekend or during a popular event (mine was during the Victorian Stroll in Troy) you may not find room for your party of 10 friends. If it's an option, make reservations or at least gauge how busy they might be.

Stategery. Form a strategy. You know your stomach and your drinking habits. Do you follow the liquor before beer rule? Should you get the sour-y drinks out of the way? It's up to you.

And, to the friends of the birthday boy or girl, be patient. Your friend may act a little silly (ie - trying to remove every single piece of ice from a 32-ounce margarita with a fork). Your friend may be a little later than they expected getting to their next destination than they originally said on a Facebook event. Because when they were sober making the digital event, an hour really seemed like it'd be sufficient for drinking a fish bowl. And it would be - if your friend had not already drank a chalice, a shot, a boot, a tea cup, a vessel, and another fish bowl. Text, call or Facebook your friend.
And make sure they're still alive the next day.


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