I love a good happy hour year-round, but feel summer is ideal for these late afternoon/early evening moments of convivial cocktailing, because of the season’s school’s out nature, the desire to save a few $$ for vacation and the heat demanding a good drink for balance. While there are many, many lists of local happy hours, most solely sit on the “reduced prices” or food parts of the equation, this forgets all that in favor of cocktails that are as dandy as the deals. To make your summer even happier, these five bars offer happy hour drinks as tasty as the discounts.
The Happy 1-5/8 Hour here runs from 5 to 6:37 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and operates from a rare opening position: all the drinks at this school-themed Greenwood bar are $10 or less to begin with. But during happy hour, the well-crafted beverages by owner and bartender Perryn Wright (along with wife Desiree) are $2 off—everything else on the menu is cheaper, too. I suggest the Pomelo, from the list labeled Desiree’s Favorites. The drink’s flavorful, fresh combo of blanco tequila, herbal classic Campari, triple sec and lemon hit the sunshine spot, while the tiny hint of bitter from the Campari reminds us that summer won’t last forever—so enjoy every moment. The Pomelo also pairs pleasantly with their creamy house onion and fennel dip.
At this nice neighborhood bar just far enough off the downtown Ballard barrage to provide a more relaxed experience, happy hour runs from 4 to 6 p.m., with all house drinks (plus a drink of the day) just $9. There are many worthy—and rotating—choices on that list, but if it’s in attendance, the Italian-inspired Dittas Scintillante is a first-class choice. Its gin, grapefruit liquor, herbal Nardini amaro and sparkling wine effervescence delivers a little sparking class. You’ll find discounted snacks, too—the deviled eggs made with mustard, mayo, sweet chili and chives are swell.
Bang Bang Kitchen
This newish Othello restaurant near a light rail station (making it easy to reach) is being rightfully lauded for its New Mexican-inspired cuisine, but don’t sleep on the drinks, either, as they’re made with the same care as the food—and five are on the happy hour menu for $8 or less from 4 to 7 p.m. While their margarita is mighty fine, and the tequila-subbed-for-vodka Mexican Mule is refreshing, I believe the floral Aguameil with tequila, lemon juice and a Chamomile syrup is where you should start sipping. While it boasts delicate notes, it still pairs well with a chip and dip trio.
This charming Capitol Hill café with tables both big and small is conducive to amiable conversations had with groups of all size. The lengthy happy hour runs 3 to 6 p.m., and you’ll uncover some tempting choices, too, all for just $7. A couple standbys like the Old Fashioned and now-inescapable Aperol Spritz would make popular picks, but don’t skip the lesser-known early 1900’s gem the Hanky Panky. While a gin, sweet vermouth, Fernet-Branca, orange bitters cuddle may seem strong for summer, everyone knows that hot weather Hanky-Panky-ing is always memorable.
Stampede Cocktail Club
While you might think this unique and jolly Fremont bar’s outside patio might be the main summer draw (though it is sunny, I think indoors is more jolly), their happy hour menu bursting with classic cocktails for $8 each should be the real magnet. While a bubbly Americano (with sweet vermouth, Campari and soda) has been a hot-temp-balancing choice worldwide for many decades, and is worth ordering here, the current flowers and the bees buzzing around might just lead you to an elegant and tangy Bee’s Knees with gin, lemon juice and honey. It’s an ideal seasonal choice.