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Drinking in NYC just got cheaper, thanks to these apps

Annalise Mantz
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Annalise Mantz

Saving money isn’t easy in this city. The rent is too damn high, groceries cost an arm and a leg, and to really kick us while we’re down, the MTA is about to raise the subway fare to $3.

Then there’s going out. By the time you’ve paid for a few overpriced cocktails, your Uber home and a late-night slice of pizza (or two), you can say goodbye to all the money you saved by packing your lunch last week.

That doesn’t mean you have to be either broke or sober—you just have to be a little smarter about your drinking habits. Before you meet your friends for another happy hour, check out these four apps to find out how you can save some cash on all your alcohol-related purchases. We’ll drink to that!

Hooch is the only paid app on this list, but if you take advantage of it, you can still save a ton of cash. Here’s how it works: You pay $9.99 per month to get a free cocktail every night at a participating bar or restaurant. That means that even if you only hit one Hooch bar each month, you’re still getting your money’s worth. The bars on the app aren’t dives, either—you’ll find popular watering holes like Boilermaker, Hotel Chantelle and The Tippler on the list.

If you’re yearning to become a local at your very own version of Cheers just to score some free drinks, this is the app for you. Swing hopes to bring back the buyback—when bartenders give out free drinks to frequent customers as a thank you. When you step into a Swing bar, the free app starts automatically tracking your visit. Bars can offer drink specials or freebies to patrons who have stayed a certain amount of time—say, a free pickleback shot after you’ve been there for two hours—and send a notification directly to your phone. The one catch? It’s only available in 28 bars in Manhattan so far, primarily at Murray Hill spots like Joshua Tree and Tonic East.

It doesn’t get much simpler than this: bevRAGE offers cash back on alcohol purchases at bars, restaurants and stores. Check the free app to see what deals they’re offering that day. It might be something like $1 off any gin drink or $3 off a 12-pack of Heineken. Just snap a picture of your receipt, upload it to the app and you’re done. Once you reach $20 in cash rewards, bevRAGE will send you a check in the mail. Cha-ching!  

Ibotta works essentially the same way as bevRAGE, with one twist: It ties some of its cash back rewards to specific stores. For instance, you might find a deal worth $2 off Stella Artois at CVS, but not your local liquor mart. When you reach $20, cash out through your PayPal or Venmo account or get your money converted into a gift card for Amazon, Starbucks, Whole Foods or another store. Bonus: Ibotta also offers cash back for groceries, clothes, makeup and home goods!

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