Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend 3-Way: The happiest of hours

Where have all the truly good happy hours gone?

I just returned from one of the better ones that I currently know about, but it seems to me, and I believe it's more than nostalgia that leads me to this belief, that they just don't put on a happy hour like they used to.

In college, happy hour buffets fed me many a night. And the food wasn't just nachos. That seems almost impossible to do now. Or maybe it's just that I'm no longer a college student and really haven't looked into it long or hard enough.

Regardless, what I want to know is what's the best happy hour deal you know about?

Happily, the best happy hour I know of is at a hotel on the bay, so you're able to sit at a table outside and look at said bay while enjoying your discounted food and drink, instead of being holed up in some cheesy, grimy holiday inn hotel bar (although if the happy hour was good enough, I might just go there too).

This happy hour offers pints of beer, both microbrews and your more standard domestic pilsners (think bud light) for $2.50. In addition, all the $8 appetizers and half off, so dinner and a beer is $6.50, at a hotel, outside on the patio, looking at the water.

It's certainly not the Sweetwater in Ocean City, MD in the 1980s, which had a big wheel (think Price is Right) that they'd spin every half hour for added discounts. And by discounts, I mean 10 and 50 cent drinks. But it's not the 1980s, and I'm a long way from Ocean City, and some shot made of rot gut vodka is not what I'm looking for anymore anyway...

Hmmm. We do still enjoy the odd happy hour; and we certainly do create our own at home and at the homes of friends, but it's true... I do not spend nearly as much time as I did in my youth seeking out and exploiting enjoying free food and cheap booze from 4-7 most weeknights. I suppose this is because I'm partying with an 8 and 10 year old these days, and weeknights are now school nights. Half the time, we're barely home from our various and sundry extracurricular exploits by 7. Also, I have money now, so I don't really need to chase the free chimichanga phenomenon. So although we do eat out pretty frequently, it's usually more restaurant and less bar. And this is a good thing.

But you asked about the best happy hour deal, so let me think: we partake of Taco Tuesdays in many of the myriad mexican restaurants that grace our midst. We also take advantage of all-day happy hour days that occur at some of our favorite haunts throughout the week, allowing us the chance to feast on appetizers rather than entrees. What comes to mind with your question, though, is the fantastic happy hours we enjoyed when we were in Hawaii last winter, staying at a resort that was no longer calling itself Embassy Suites, but was still providing its motherlode: the evening cocktail hour. We owned that hour. The four of us had such a rhythm, bellying up to the bar in pairs or solo, taking away the odd shirley temple, mai tai, or tropical delight. And the best part? A veritable VAT of bright orange snack mix. Now THAT, my friends, is One Happy Hour. I so need to find an Embassy Suites for this winter's excursion!

Ah, happy hour. One of my favorite hours. All that happiness and everything.

My daily happy hour occurs on my deck. Yesterday afternoon, instead of my usual chardonnay-on-ice, I had vodka and ruby red grapefruit, my drink of summer 2009, in honor of a sparklingly beautiful summer-like afternoon (which, later on, descended into my first night of socks-and-shoes, which is a tragic, woeful tale for another day). My parents are strict adherents to the 5:00 p.m. cocktail hour start. Me? I am much more flexible...

I do love the happy hour at a bar, too although it does tend to make me go out too fast. Shocking, I know. New London doesn't have ocean-front tiki bars or bay-front hotel bars, but it does have lots of river-front bars with decks, which are great during this most fleeting of seasons.

My favorite New London happy hour place? Stash's. On Friday nights, on the way back downtown to see free (ha!) music, one can stop and drink a few (full-priced, sadly) beers, while eating free dinner: pizza -- the good, gooey, cheesy kind; and grinders -- the good, fresh, only-in-New-London kind. You are then set for the rest of the night.

But my favorite recent happy hour place? The Skyview Lounge, at the Poc-o-mont. Every afternoon one could feast on free fried shrimp, cheese and crackers and other yummy snacks, and drink dollar Yuengling drafts. So even though we were still full from breakfast, and dinner was in a mere hour, we partook. Hey, it was free!

We may have closed the Skyview Lounge one or two nights, too.


Kathi D said...

We have happy hour every evening with the neighbors (aka Margarita & FlaVio & Rio the dog). There are no drinks involved, though, except for my ever-present Diet Coke. They just bring Rio over to play with our pack o dogs and the humans sit on the porch and chitchat.

Back in the day, there was a place that served all kinds of great snacks FREE at happy hour--now that was the place. I can't even remember its name now, but I used to go with a neighborhood friend whose husband traveled a lot, and my poor husband would come home to some pitiful dinner because I was already stuffed with happy food.

Sadly, it all had to come to an end when I realized that my friend was "dating" (ahem) around the neighborhood while her husband was away on business. My husband didn't allow me to date. So picky.

Hsin-Yi said...

I don't know about my favorite Happy hour (aside from the one I used to work in NYC), but my favorite drink special was in FL. There's a place that has "Kill the Keg" Tuesdays. They had free bar snacks, and a full menu, but EVERY draft beer was $1 until they ran out! I know I'll be going back there next time I'm in Fl.