On those nights you plan on dining out at an expensive restaurant, you never want to overdo it on the pre-dinner cocktails. (Otherwise, you won’t have enough money for your meal.) That’s where happy hours come in handy.
But what separates the good happy hours from the subpar ones? First, the price has to be right. If the bar’s regular cocktail is $15 but just $13.95 for happy hour, that’s not really a special. Second, it helps to have food specials or even serve a full menu. People get hungry when they drink, so some type of munchie is preferred. And third, timing is key. Happy hours that are available longer than an hour make us, er, happy.
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Here are a few of the best happy hours in New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
What’s better than a 99-cent store? We’ll tell you: It’s a bar that sells 99-cent martinis. And, no, we’re not kidding. Between 5 and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, Dante and beverage director Naren Young of Saxon + Parole serve Plymouth Gin or Absolut vodka martinis with a choice of caperberry or lemon knot garnishes. Tax is included, and there is a one-drink-per-person limit. This is one of the best deals around.
Head here for the classic bar pairing of oysters and martinis. During happy hour, Manhattans or old-fashioneds are $9 apiece, compared to the regular cocktail menu where drinks range from $12 to $15. Throw back 99-cent oysters while you sip on your drink.
Happy hour cocktails are usually kind of boring and basic; however, at Clover Club, the quality of the happy hour cocktails is just as high as the evening ones. Options include a classic Moscow Mule, a Silent Fuse with jalapeño-infused Singani, and an Apple Jack Old Fashioned with apple brandy and maple syrup. Plus, there are great small bites such as “crisps,” potato chips tossed in duck fat and served with a truffle crème fraîche.
Vegan folks looking for a happy hour should swing by V Street in the City of Brotherly Love. Available food and drink options include the Fall’s Not Lost cocktail served with bourbon whiskey and a Chinese pancake slider.
Known for being an industry hangout, ERB has an amazing bar and a fantastic greasy burger. The huge backyard makes this place a great stop on a nice day, and its downtown location makes it easily accessible. Lucky for you, happy hour includes a burger-and-fries combo that pairs well with a $7 cocktail or pitcher of beer.
These guys know how to please a crowd. Instead of one happy hour, the bar-slash-restaurant offers both early and late happy hour specials. For early happy hour between 5 and 7 p.m., sip on wine, beer or cocktails, and choose from a few snacks. Then snag a $10 pizza during late happy hour from 10 to 11 p.m.
Almost every drink at Chaplin’s is half off during its happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 3 to 7 p.m. on Fridays. Go for the happy hour, then stay for the ramen.