They say it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, and with BarBird — a new iPhone app that harnesses the power of Twitter to find specials (happy hour or no) — it’s more true than ever. Once its promise is fulfilled, this app could be a barhopper’s dream.

Firing up BarBird on an iPhone produces an easily navigable Google Map of your immediate surroundings with restaurants and bars that use Twitter marked with pushpins. A press shows recent tweets from the venue. Since many bars and restaurants have begun employing Twitter as a low cost means of pimping their
latest specials, voila, instant deal central: Two-for-one drafts around the corner! $6 Rifleman down the block!

The app can also simply display the latest tweets from venues in your area, and you can slice these by Happy Hour, Specials, Ladies, No Cover, and Tonight (for events). The map mode can be similarly segmented if you don’t want to see everything at once. There is also a web browser interface, but why bother? The iPhone version is simple, works well and, above all, this baby is designed for field use.

This is an app that was really created by the way people and small businesses have been using Twitter. The developers arrived at the lists by algorithmically matching tweeting venues with physical addresses and mapping it with semantically aware keywords. The result is a location-aware, constantly updating stream of specials and events.

The limitation at this point is coverage. New York, LA, San Francisco and Portland are fairly well represented, but even on those new media hot spots there still might not be the proliferation you’d hope. This, of course, will improve with time.

Other than that, it would be nice to see what others are saying about the venues (akin to Google’s goals for Buzz) and perhaps an integration with check-in services to see who’s where.

Download it: If you are binge-drinking on a budget

Skip it: If you tend to wander off the beaten track for your libations

By John Capone