By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
2611 North Central Avenue
Sure, the décor is straight out of 1957, all oak paneling and gold-veined mirrors and red pleather tuck-and-roll banquettes. But we often find a decidedly hip, under-30 crowd at Durant's when we pop in to enjoy one of the best Happy Hours of any era. On any given weekday, we enjoy our favorite well cocktails (including a super-dry martini, the house specialty in every one of its configurations) and domestic beer at 1950s prices so low that we're always tempted to pair our drinks with something from the appetizer menu. Our favorite combination involves the Durant's Debris (a plate of grilled steak chunks — always tasty) and a Stoli martini, straight up.
4 to 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. weekdays. $4.50 domestic beer and well cocktails.
The Main Ingredient Ale House and Cafe
2337 North Seventh Street
It's this snug neighborhood bar's signature beer, cleverly called The Main Ale, that originally drew us back to this, the former home of Lisa G's Café and Wine Bar. But The Main Ale's pale, tartly refreshing hops tastes even better, we discovered, when it's half-price. We love that this unpretentious place not only serves Schlitz beer but has paid tribute to the brewer with a kitschy Schlitz lamp in its bar. We're just as fond of the al fresco seating on the patio, where a youngish crowd chills six afternoons a week. (If the back patio is full and you're really lucky, you might snag one of the two front-porch chairs, perfect for watching who's coming and going.) We're also more than fond of the Pro-Pasto, a sampler of cured meets, cheeses, veggies, and olives that makes Happy Hour just that.
11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every Monday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Half off all draft beer and liquor, and $4 select wines.
Gallo Blanco Cafe
401 West Clarendon Avenue
There might be something more chic than Happy Hour in the lobby of a swanky boutique hotel, but we can't think of what that might be. Especially when the hotel in question is the Clarendon, home to Gallo Blanco, a restaurant and bar where we love to unwind after a long day at the office. More than the cushy futons and old-fashioned high-stooled wet bar, we love that Gallo Blanco's Happy Hour is all about half-price specialty drinks such as house-made margaritas and super-fruity white sangria and $5 Bloody Marys, instead of the usual well and draft specials that other places offer. And did we mention that big, fried sheet of cheese?
3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Half-price specialty drinks, $5 Bloody Marys and wine, $3 draft beer, specials on tacos and guacamole.
Technology has improved nearly every aspect of our life and now, at long last, it's been applied to mankind's greatest venture: the search for cheap drinks. Village Voice Media Holdings LLC, the parent company of this paper, and GoTime.com have partnered to bring you Happy Hours, the premier smart-phone application for finding drink specials wherever you are and whenever you're looking.
Your phone tells the app where you are, you specify any happy hour needs you might have, and voilá, you've got a detailed list of every happy hour around, including what's being offered and when the specials expire. The list is sorted by distance from your current location, and you can turn your phone sideways for a Google map of the nearest picks. Can't decide which one to try? Give the phone a good shake and the app will randomly select a happy hour for you.
Almost 20,000 happy hours in more than 30 cities are covered. The data comes from GoTime's extensive database, business owners and users, creating the most comprehensive and up-to-date listings possible. It's like having a native guide to the best spots in town, wherever you go. And in the 14 cities with Village Voice Media papers, it's not like having a native guide, it is having a native guide: recommendations from our editorial staff, the people who live and breathe the city's nightlife, are integrated into the app.
Native apps are available for iPhone, Droid, and BlackBerry users, but you can still get in on the fun even if you don't have a smart phone. Just point your phone's web browser to www.gotime.com and you can get the same info (albeit without the slick functionality offered by the apps). And no matter what platform you use, it's all free — so you can save your money for that last half-price mojito or two-for-one beer special of the night. -- Cory Casciato
Local Breeze Patio Cafe
606 North Fourth Avenue
After chowing down on Cajun-seasoned Firecracker Shrimp (served with a generous side of garlic toast) and tasty fish tacos spiced with pico de gallo and cilantro lime sauce, we head straight for one of Local Breeze's Atomic Bloody Marys, made with Atomic Horseradish and available in low, medium, or high-yield hotness. To put out our cocktail-induced fire, we usually finish with Alyssa's Pink Bicycle, which sounds like the name of a porno movie but is actually a delicious, dessert-y drink made with vanilla vodka, peach schnapps, and cream. Then, we start all over again! As the name implies, this is the perfect spot to kick back with a cocktail or three — a deep porch, funky old neighborhood and comfy patio furniture.
2:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. 20 percent off all menu items and drinks.
1514 North Seventh Avenue
Lately, we've been counting the days until Sunday will roll around again, because SideBar now offers Sunday Service, a weekly party pitched in homage to local service-industry folks but open to everyone who loves a good time and great drinks. The party kicks off at 9 p.m. every Sunday and features the Valley's best DJs spinning swell dance tracks until 2 in the morning. A 20 percent discount on all drinks makes a cool party even cooler — and only slightly more fun than this hot hangout's regular Happy Hour. Don't miss SideBar's White Rabbit, a signature blend of Frangelico, Smirnoff vodka, white Godiva Liqueur, and horchata.
4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. $4 well drinks, $1 off all beers, $2 off wine by the glass, $8 off all wine bottles, $4 appetizers.
5144 North Central Avenue
The bruschetta served at this trendsetting winebar is so magnificently tasty that we'd probably come back even if its Happy Hour weren't one of the friendliest in town. We like a nice, post-work merlot and the Pub Board, a healthy helping of soft pretzels served with chorizo, cornichons, cheddar cheese, and corn nuts. They're served at cozy two- and four-tops on the wide, leafy patio fronted by a two-sided bar that also serves imbibers enjoying Postino's neat, nouveau interior. It doesn't hurt that this happening hangout carries Ca Del Sarto, our favorite Italian pinot grigio, and that the wise guys who run this place (and its Arcadia-adjacent original location, 3939 East Campbell Avenue, 602-852-3939) have reconstructed the traditional Happy Hour into something called The Wine Program.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day: $5 pitchers of beer and select wines. 8 p.m. to closing Mondays and Tuesdays: $20 wine-and-bruschetta specials. Code Word Wednesdays: Check Facebook for the secret word to $5 wine all evening.