Instead of mourning the loss of light this winter, rejoice in having the perfect excuse to start drinking early enough to score some sweet happy hour specials. No, we aren’t talking about the can of beer and shot of bargain booze, but more craft cocktails, artisan beer, high-end wine and delicious plates of food. Besides, the earlier you start your bar hopping around New York City, the more you can explore and try new and exciting places.
Start your evening out right at this adorable, bi-level eatery in Union Square. From 5 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, you can join the crew at the chic and artsy All’onda for their aperitivo happy hour. This features expertly executed cicchetti and spiedini, or small bites and tasty skewers that include arancini with black truffle and Parmesan, Castelvetrano olives, shrimp with speck and fennel, spiced pistachios and other Venetian-inspired dishes from former Ai Fiori chef Chris Jaeckle. But part of the reason to go for happy hour is to drink, and the restaurant offers two rotating wines by the glass, Italian beers, and cocktails such as the All’onda Spritz, a drink with Cappelletti and prosecco, and the Americano, which has Campari, Dolin Rouge and soda water. If you can, score the table upstairs that looks out of a large window onto the street or grab a seat at one of the simply adorned tables and banquettes. Of course, you can go old school and take your place at the stark-yet-elegant tiled bar. A word of caution: you may find yourself lingering long past happy hour and into dinner.
The Happiest Hour
Naturally, a place dubbed The Happiest Hour will have a happy hour worth checking out. Owned by Acme’s Jon Neidich and ace mixologist Jim Kearns, formerly of Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The NoMad Hotel and Pegu Club, this creative, fun spot has a coastal-town-meets-tiki-bar-meets-1960s-lounge vibe to it, in the best possible way. Every day from 5 to 7 p.m., don your fedora and saddle up to the horseshoe-shaped bar and order a specialty cocktail, a classic drink or take advantage of the spot’s “You pick ’em, we pour ’em” mentality where guests can select a spirit and customize a drink to their liking. Crispy, complimentary fries prove the perfect accompaniment to a Link Ray, one of their signature cocktails made with jalapeño-infused tequila, celery and lime. As you melt into the cozy bar, don’t stop at French fries. They also have a tasty menu brimming with a double-patty burger (also known as The Happiest Burger), kale salad, a flavorful smoked fish dip and other comfort foods.
Don’t be dissuaded by the dreary name (the handle pays homage to a lethal high-speed train that ran nearby for a century), there is nothing depressing about this new, cozy spot in Chelsea. Settle down on a seat at the heavy, dark bar, marvel at the wall of barrels, and start drinking and eating. After all, for early imbibers, they feature a killer happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. that includes two superb cask-aged cocktails, an Older Fashion and a fig julep. You can also choose from their craft beer list, which includes worthwhile tipples from Founders Pale Ale, Stone IPA, and Huyghe Brewery in Belgium. Even better, come this spring, you can expect to sample Death Ave’s own high-end suds created in the 1,500-square-foot brewery below the restaurant. But the real icing on the cake, Greek-inspired bar bites are also available at this time, so you can score oyster deals or a steaming plate of truffle-lace fries and fried pickles.