The economic downturn resulted in one welcome effect: an upswing in restaurants offering deals on drinks, deals on appetizers, and ever-happier happy hours. The list that follows, compiled by our Cafe Society staff (e-mail us at [email protected]), includes our fifty favorite happy hours, ranging from A to Z and noteworthy for everything from cheap drinks to small plates with large flavors to incredibly generous time spans (fair warning: hours and deals change frequently). Remember, it's always five o'clock somewhere.
APPALOOSA BAR & GRILL
535 16th Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 2-6 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight Saturday-Sunday
Happy-hour deals: $3 micro and import drafts, $3 well, $4 house wine and Irish whiskey, $6 Colorado whiskey
When you stumble off the 16th Street Mall and into the Appaloosa, a cheerful, independently owned spot, odds are good that you'll hit a happy hour. Because the Appaloosa's happy hours are very, very expansive — almost as expansive as its booze is inexpensive during these times. And you can often down your drinks while listening to live music — a rarity in this part of town.
4403 Lowell Boulevard, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, all day Monday
Happy-hour deals: $1.50 off all wine, $2 Bud Light and PBR drafts, $3.25 all other drafts, $3.75 original margaritas, $4.50 sangria, discounted appetizers; reduced late-night bites from 9-11 p.m. every Sunday-Thursday and 10 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday
If you've got a thirsty throng on your hands, lead them to the bar at the resurrected Billy's Inn, where you can swoop in for a cheap glass of wine or suds, a potent margarita or sangria, and still have enough spare coinage to feed your pie hole. Snare a spare seat at the community table, which is full of strangers who soon become friends, one-night stands or longstanding lovers, and share plates of nachos, potato skins, deviled eggs or hot wings. Happy hour is so much fun here that you just might stick around for late-night bites and libations, when well drinks are $2.75 and lobster tacos less than a buck each.
BRASSERIE TEN TEN
1011 Walnut Street, Boulder
Happy-hour hours: 3-6:30 p.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: $3.25 beer, $3.75 wine, $3.75 well cocktail, $6 house martini, $6 margarita, $1.25-$6 snacks
A bistro with necktied college students playing waiters, Brasserie Ten Ten has a generous happy hour fervently supported by an eclectic group of outdoor enthusiasts, professionals, travelers staying at the St Julien and bargain hunters who probably wouldn't frequent this white-linen establishment otherwise. We go for the $3.25 Stella Artois and supplement it with snacks off the extensive list of happy-hour offerings, including savory crepes, sliders and bone marrow — bites of a bygone era of heavy French cuisine that make for perfect sustenance when you're drinking.
THE BRITISH BULLDOG
2052 Stout Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 3-7 p.m. and 10 p.m.-midnight daily; 7-11 a.m. Saturday-Sunday
Happy-hour deals: half-price wells, drafts, and wine
Few places in Denver have so many British and Irish brews on draft. Even fewer have an entire roster of Pakistani food on their menu, not to mention a professional soccer schedule on a wall-sized chalkboard. The British Bulldog is Denver's go-to soccer hooligan bar, with a healthy serving of punk just to keep things interesting. All that Smithwick's can get expensive, though, which is why happy hour at the Bulldog is enough to make us sit up and beg. The pub also offers a "soccer happy hour" on weekend mornings with the same specials as the regular happy hour, along with a boatload of activity-based specials. Score!
1000 Grant Street, Denver
Happy-hour hours: 4-7 p.m. daily
Happy-hour deals: 2-for-1 drinks, $3 tapas menu
The intimate bar in the Burnsley, a boutique hotel in Capitol Hill, is a little gem. And it really shines during the generous happy hour, when you get two-fers not just on your first drink, but any drinks you order during happy hour. Sink into one of the cozy corner booths, and after a few rounds, you might just decide to make a night of it. Fortunately, there's a hotel desk right outside the door.
CENTRO LATIN KITCHEN & REFRESHMENT PALACE
950 Pearl Street, Boulder
Happy-hour hours: 3-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday-Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday
Happy-hour deals: $2 Tecate, $2 Cuba libres, $4 margaritas, $4 wine, $2 to $4 snacks
Although misanthropes may appreciate Centro's large, dark bar, we prefer the patio that's reminiscent of a hut on a Caribbean beach. During warm spring days, you'll spot more than one laptop here, possessed by professionals who can't resist the warm sun and an early margarita. With one of the earliest happy hours in Boulder — don't miss the weekend brunch deals — we're partial to this spot on a lazy Saturday afternoon, when it's an ideal place to enjoy duck tacos and Pearl Street people-watching.