Downtown Happy Hours

Saltbox
Photo by Paul Body

Saltbox

Jsix

616 J Street, downtown

The Scene: You’ll see conventioneers, Hotel Solamar guests, and, in springtime, look for baseball fans fresh from the game. Drink: The curiously delicious bacon-infused Manhattan: smooth rye blended with a dash of maple syrup and garnished with a house-made spiced cherry and slice of crisp bacon. Happy hour is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Nibble: Christian Graves’ rendered pork belly that’s seasoned with clove and allspice, and flanked by a vanilla poached pear and house-made kimchi.

Andaz Wine Bar

600 F Street, downtown

The Scene: Blinged-out Carries, Samanthas, and Charlottes flock here for the “Happier Hour” from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. Drink: With 80 international and domestic wines on tap, it makes sense to sip a product of the vine. During happier hour, select wines by the glass like the Hess Cabernet Sauvignon are half off. Cocktails are $5 both downstairs and on the rooftop. Nibble: Appetizers like the charcuterie plate with cured ham, salami, spicy mustard, and crostini are half off during Happier Hour, but only downstairs.

Katsuya by Starck

600 F Street, downtown

The Scene: It varies wildly during late night social hour from 9 p.m. to close; we saw older hotel guests from the Midwest, athletes, and the girls who’d love to love them. The early happy hour runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Drink: Charger Shaun Phillips—also an investor—created the off-menu SP95. The balanced mix of serrano chile, peach, lime, and tequila tops other spicy cocktails in town, and during social hour, it’s $7, just like other specialty drinks. Well drinks are $5; beer and wine are $6. Nibble: Buttery crispy rice topped with spicy tuna; it goes with any drink on the menu.

Saltbox

1047 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp Quarter

The Scene: At Hotel Palomar, step through the pivot door and you’ll find salesmen taking a break from pounding the pavement, a group on a team-building scavenger hunt, and a lovelorn girl oversharing with her bestie—try not to be obvious as you eavesdrop. Drink: Lobby bar happy hour offerings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily include $5 drafts, house wines, and sangria, plus Wells Done Well, riffs on classics like a mojito with tangy pomegranate syrup. Only cocktails are discounted during the late happy hour from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Nibble: Chef Simon Dolinky’s succulent and generous beef cheek tacos with snap pea kimchi are the way to go; all small bites are $3 to $6 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Grant Grill

326 Broadway, Gaslamp Quarter

The Scene: The late-night happy hour at 10 p.m. daily draws couples on dates, party people celebrating a birthday, and music lovers looking for live jazz. Drink: Cocktails Sur Lie, Jeff Josenhans’ original bottle-conditioned cocktails that are fermented and aged on yeast for 90 days, are inspired by the way Champagne is made. The mule, a mix of vodka, ginger, and hops, was tangy and aromatic. Nibble: Grant Grill makes the best beef sliders in the 619, but its creamy sea scallops with a potato purée and savory/sweet marshmallow chips are tailor-made for this unique cocktail.

See the rest of the happy hours here »

Free Advice

How to Go Solo and Inspire Confidence

Don’t be one of those people who can’t go to the bar (or bathroom!) alone. Go early. Happy hour is perfect timing, as a girl alone in a bar come 2 a.m. is just tragic. Don’t be that girl! Go on a weekday. Mondays are the new Fridays. Thursdays are the new Saturdays. Sit at the bar and bring something to read. A magazine allows you to casually flip through pages while taking in the scene. A novel requires too much concentration and says “nerd.” A newspaper takes up too much real estate. (iPads: Just don’t let it be a crutch.) Chat up the bartender. Put your purse on the seat next to you so you can open it to someone interesting, if the opportunity presents itself. But your own company is often the best. And remember: two-drink maximum. If you’re still alone after two, that is.  // KC

 

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