By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jan 26, 2009 at 11:32 AM

A few years ago, super posh martini lounges were the hot new trend and, apparently, so was dropping $15 for a drink.

Those days are gone.

In a recession, frivolous spending on frou-frou drinks is all but out of the question and we're all looking for ways to maintain our social life without breaking the bank.

Here; this might help.

Bars and clubs in Milwaukee and Madison have banded together to offer their local nightlifers a little break. It's called My Bar Card and it works as an automatic discount card when flashed with proper ID at numerous participating establishments.

Co-founder Hemad Fadaifar says the idea came to him and his two business partners, Aaron Gersonde and Albert Taylor, after a wildly expensive jaunt to Las Vegas.

"There were no specials and cover charges for everything," he says. "So we got to thinking, 'What if people like us wanted to be treated like VIPs, but we're not millionaires?'"

Months of brainstorming the idea on a local level with friend Ryan Baudhuin led to an organized coalition of clubs willing to offer specific drink and / or food specials throughout the week. In Milwaukee and Madison combined, approximately 40 bars are participating to offer patrons deals like two-for-one martinis, employee-priced taps, free cover charge and half-priced appetizers.

In Milwaukee, the Bar Card works at Apartment 720, Bar Louie, Bayou, Bootleggers, Brother's Bar & Grill, Caffrey's, Cush, Decibel, Duke's on Water, The Eastsider, Flannery's, Kenadees, Live on North, McGillycuddy's, Murphy's, Rascal's, Scooter's Pub, Sullivan's, Vanity Ultra Lounge and Vitucci's.

In Madison, it's good at Amy's Café, Brother's Bar, Church Key, Dawg House, Gumby's Pizza and Wings, Ian's Pizza, Johnny O's, Kollege Klub, Nitty Gritty, Quinton's, University Liquor, Vintage and Wando's.

Fadaifar says about 700 cards are in circulation in Milwaukee and Madison and the cards may be used in both cities. My Bar Card launched in Milwaukee Jan. 16 at a kick-off party at Decibel and will officially launch in Madison Feb. 7 at Kollege Klub, 529 N. Lake St.

Normally, the Bar Cards go for $20, though Fadaifar is offering the membership card for half that price through April 2009.

"If you go out a lot, $10 is steal," he says. "It pays itself off the first time you use it. We're keeping the price low for now because we want people to get familiar with it, recognize it and benefit from it."

My Bar Card membership works in four-month sessions, Fadaifar says, to coincide with college semesters. Buy a card before Dec. 31 and it's good through April 30, the spring session. The summer session then begins May 1 with the purchase of a new card and extends through August. The fall / winter session runs September through the end of the year.

My Bar Card has a party planned for Friday, Feb. 6 at Sullivan's and for Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Buckhead Saloon.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”