Happy hour is more than a ritual, it is a haven for many who have had a hard day at work. Almost every bar and club, and many restaurants, offer happy hour inducements to attract the worn and weary with food and drink specials, which, if indulged in with moderation, can revive the workday warrior and relieve their stress so as to make the return home all that more relaxed. Then again, there is Friday night, where happy hour is just the pre-game show. Here are five top spots in Connecticut where the hours after work are particularly happy.
Monday: Dish Bar & Grill
900 Main St.
Hartford, CT 06103
Monday is always a drag, and if any day needs a happy hour, it is the first work day of the week. The Dish Bar & Grill in Hartford understands just how tough a Monday can be, so it starts its happy hour early – at 3 p.m. Snacks at the bar and pizzas are half price for the next three hours, and wine and draft beer is only $3. The powerful sky martini costs twice that but packs more than twice the wallop. For those who want a combination that will “kick-start” their Monday evening, the hosts and bartenders, including Ashley and Justin, recommend the espressotini. This popular drink is made with fresh-brewed espresso, Stoli vanilla vodka and Tuaca (a vanilla citrus liqueur) and either shaken with ice or served hot. Although the happy hour specialty drink offerings change nightly, Mondays are the best nights to visit the Dish because, as Ashley says, “we fill up fast at the end of the week.”
Tuesday: Dev’s on Bank Street
357 Bank St.
New London, CT 06320
Tapas Tuesdays at Dev’s on Bank Street is a tradition in New London, and one that just got even better now that it has moved to its new location – right next door to the old Dev’s. Candace and Bunny Devendettis run this family restaurant right, and the mix of Mediterranean and Asian-influenced dishes is excellent. There is no better time to try them out than during the “Very Happy Hour” that begins Tuesdays (and every day except Sunday) at 3 p.m. Wash down the terrific tapas treats with a Mayflower porter ($3 during happy hour) or a koi martini (raspberry vodka, triple sec and fresh lemon juice) – or “springtime in a glass” as “Miss Bunny” calls it ($5 most happy hours).
Wednesday: The Cambridge House Brew Pub
357 Salmon Brook St.
Granby, CT 06035
How better to get through humpday than with a free beer? On Wednesdays at The Cambridge House Brew Pub, members of the “Mug Club” drink for free – well, they drink ONE beer for free, but it is a massive 20-ounce brewski served up in their own personalized glass mug. That beer can be one of the signature brews, as this is not just a bar or a pub, but a brewpub, and one where the taps change often. For those more casual patrons who don’t want to join the club and become regulars, there are plenty of other happy hour bargains on Wednesdays, including $6 appetizers at the bar and whatever specials are up on the chalk board. The hand-crafted beers have won many awards, and while “the bar always stays open late” every day for this haven for “real beer, real food, real people” as its signs proclaim, it is THE happy hour place for beer lovers to go on Wednesdays.
Thursday: Max’s Oyster Bar
964 Farmington Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06107
“Buck a Shuck” happy hour from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. is a great introduction to the fine seafood and great drinks at Max’s Oyster Bar in West Hartford, especially on a Thursday (because this place is packed on Fridays and weekends). Well-known restaurateur Richard Rosenthal and Bob Cooke, formerly of Legal Seafood Company, offer their customers Atlantic oysters and Littleneck and Cherrystone clams for a dollar each during happy hour (hence the “buck a shuck”). There are also $2 treats which include pickled herring Roll Mops, blackened fish tacos, sesame tuna burgers and black mussels. For those who want to save the seafood for supper, there are also quarter-pounder cheeseburgers and chicken satay for that $2 price, and Dale’s Pale Ale (at $5 a can) to wash them down. Come Thursdays and beat the weekend crowd.
Friday: Club Vandome
102 Hamilton St.
New Haven, CT 06511
Almost every bar and club has drink specials during Friday happy hour, but at Club Vandome, Fridays are “Hookahs on the Patio” days. Every Friday happy hour is also “For the Ladies,” with benefits that continue on into the evening. On Fridays, “ladies are free all night long” says the host, who goes by the name “El Nino.” The hookah party on the patio is a nice place to take a breather (no pun) from the action at this Elm City nightclub, where its “cumbia-bachata-merengue” salsa and “techno-trance electronica” dance music is very loud and very intense. It can be even more so for those who knock back the club’s signature drink, the flaming Scorpion Bowl – a tiki bar-themed cocktail so massive and filled with so much booze that it comes with a warning from the bartenders that it should be shared by at least two people.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.