Berliner Weisse beer rests on the counter of the bar at Saigon Noodle House, which also offers a variety of Japanese food items. Photo by Tessa CaseBerliner Weisse beer rests on the counter of the bar at Saigon Noodle House, which also offers a variety of Vietnamese food items. Photo by Tessa CaseTessa Case - News Editor

It is a sentiment well shared amongst responsible, stressed out, of legal-age-to drink college students: “Man, I need a drink.”

I shared the same sentiment earlier this past week as I trudged through the beginning of midterms. However, I knew I had to make a kind and loving decision in the interest of my wallet or else I would just be adding on to my pile of worries. I scoured through pages and pages of Happy-Hour specials on Google, until one caught my eye: Saigon Noodle House, located in Avondale at 3719 3rd Ave. S.

As a loyal customer of the original Saigon on 280, I was eager to try the new Avondale location. I had been there several times, but never for a drink other than some delicious boba tea. I perused their menu briefly before deciding to give their self-described “tiki bar” a try. Fortunately, I live barely five minutes away, which was another economical decision down the line.

Upon entering, I was greeted with several smiling faces and the awesome, contemporary décor. A mural on the back wall portrays some of the highlights of Birmingham. It was well-lit, relaxing and there was plenty of room at the bar.

When I had been looking at the menu, I had just assumed that Saigon would be offering reduced prices on their specialty cocktails. However, I was wrong and the bartender politely told me about the specials and went out of her way to give me as many details as possible.

Happy Hour at Saigon is from 3-6 p.m. (so you can get your nice, relaxing drink early and then get back to that mound of homework you’re avoiding!) and features two specialty frozen cocktails, $4 draft beers and half price wine bottles. The price on a wine bottle ranges from $17 to $33, which isn’t bad if you’re sharing among friends who are commiserating with you. Four red wines are available and five whites are as well.

The bartender was extremely pleasant and let me try both of the frozen drinks. Every day features a Jack and Coke slushy and a daily special. I am the first to say that I am not a fan of slushies or any frozen cocktail; in my experience, it’s usually just a quick and easy way to skimp out on the alcohol and barrage you with sugar. These two were pleasant surprises, though.

The Jack and Coke is a classic, and, despite my doubts, even in a frozen version was delicious. Tennessee whiskey is a no-brainer, and my good buddy Jack was an absolute delight.

The second choice was their specialty of the day. In keeping with the seasonal flavors, it contained bourbon, cinnamon, peaches, ginger and lemon juice. I have never called a slushy bright and refreshing, and probably never will again. There was a great taste of bourbon present, the cinnamon was super fall-oriented and the ginger and lemon at the end was the perfect touch to keep it light and bright. No syrupy residue, no horrible stomach ache due to an inhuman amount of sugar, just a nice, really well done cocktail. Did I mention that they were only $5?

I ultimately settled for Trim Tab’s Raspberry Berliner Weisse, which, again, was $4. On draft, supporting local breweries, and no tears for my lost dollars as I succumbed to my craft beer addiction. I am no beer expert, but I know a good one when I taste one and I applaud Saigon’s choice to include many different types of local beers on their draft and bottle list and making them budget friendly for the broke college student.

All in all, I genuinely enjoyed my experience and I’m glad I’ve found a new spot for an early evening beer or somewhere to go with a few friends and enjoy a cheap bottle of wine in some killer ambiance. The people are friendly, the establishment is beautiful and clean and it’s a chance to eat and drink locally. Really ask yourself, why wouldn’t you go?
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