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City That Drinks

Lay-A-Way Beer

Sooner’s Tavern keeps its customers in beer

Photo: Baynard Woods, License: N/A

Baynard Woods


“No Dry Spells.” That’s the promise of Sooner’s Tavern in Curtis Bay (1600 Hazel St., [410] 355-7226), with its “new and innovative way to keep our customers in beer.” Sooner’s is well-known for its innovations, and when we awarded them “Best Dive Bar” back in 2009, we recognized that “this is a dive bar that, if it only had cots, a self-respecting drunk could actually live in.” Well, the Lay-A-Way beer is probably better than cots—because, as fate would have it, the broker people are, the more they need a drink. One of the many signs on Sooner’s wall explains the deal: “When you got money, you purchase your lay-a-way beer. When you ain’t got no money you collect your lay-a-way beer.” That all seems simple enough, but what really caught our eye is the handwritten part that reads, “Never more than $1.75.” When we asked the bartender how it works, she explained that if I gave her $150 during happy hour, all the beer I could buy on that $150 would be at happy-hour price—and no matter what time it was when I put my money down, I would never pay more than $1.75 for a beer when I picked it up. So, if you got $175, that’ll put you in for a hundred beers. Just remember that Sooner’s’ bathroom has a glass door, so don’t try to drink them all at once, or everybody will hear, if not see, you puke. It also defeats the purpose of lay-a-way.

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