New Orleanians of a certain age may recall when local “happy” hours came in three basic forms with slight variations thereof: Three-for-one well brand specials at The Boot, Friar Tucks, Hillary’s and Shanahan’s; the Friday evening “Sippin’ into Sunset,” the all-you-can-drink for $10 booze fest hosted in the mid-1980s at a certain downtown hotel where IDs were never checked; and 50-cent bottles of Mickey’s Big Mouth malt liquor and bowls of greasy peanuts on Wednesday nights at Carrollton Station.
By today’s standards those happy hours were, well, crappy hours. Restaurants targeted elderly diners with early bird specials featuring entrée discounts or free appetizers, and bars offered cheap drinks and stale nuts, chips and popcorn from randomly scattered communal snack bowls. The revival of cocktail culture blurred the line between the two, blessedly allowing for the evolution of the modern, restaurant bar-oriented Happy Hour. In a city where restaurants have some of the best bars and bar food, this is as it should be, and the offerings and specials are as diverse as the restaurants themselves. We turn to them for the happiest happy hours with exceptional food, cocktails and wine, usually at bargain prices.
Head to Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse Mondays-Fridays, 5-7 p.m. for $5 bar snacks like Gulf shrimp spring rolls; tomato, bacon and shrimp Napoleons; mini beef Wellingtons; and mini seafood flatbreads. Five bucks will also get you a Dark & Stormy cocktail made with Gosling’s Black Strap rum and ginger beer or a McAfee’s Manhattan with Benchmark Bourbon, Dolin sweet vermouth and Reagan’s orange bitters.
The Palace Cafe hosts its Happy Hour in the upstairs Black Duck Bar from 4-7 p.m. on weekdays with offers of half-off select small plates and half-off draft beer and wines on tap. Around the corner at Bourbon House on weekdays from 4-6 p.m., freshly shucked oysters are $1 each. Wash them down with $3 Abita Amber on draft or half-price wine.
Take in the beautiful view of Jackson Square any day from 2-5 p.m. at Tableau for $5 cocktails including the Dark & Stormy, Aperol Spritz, classic Daiquiri and French 75.
Rule the Roost Bar during Bubbles at Brennan’s Happy Hour 2-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Fridays. Enjoy deeply discounted bottles from top Champagne vintners and premiere sparkling wine houses, plus bubbly cocktails for $7 and delicious bar snacks for under $15. And, don’t miss the weekly Champagne sabering every Friday evening at 5 p.m.
Located on the first block of Bourbon Street, Red Fish Grill’s Oyster Bar offers $.75 freshly-shucked raw Gulf oysters, $3 local draft beer and $5 hand-shaken daiquiris Mondays-Thursdays, 3-5 p.m.
Looking over the gorgeous oaks of City Park in Ralph’s on the Park’s newly updated bar. Happy Hour is Mondays-Fridays, 3-7 p.m. and offers $5 featured wines by the glass, $3 craft beers and $5 dips and snacks including sweet potato hummus and truffle fries.
Located in the Warehouse District, from 3-6 p.m. daily Briquette offers $5 glasses of house wine, $5 Refinery Margaritas, $8 South Peters Cosmos and $3 domestic beer. Five dollar small plates include honey Dijon glazed bleu cheese-topped Brussels sprouts; mussels in a white wine cream sauce; rosemary pomme frites; grilled shrimp served atop seaweed salad; and Creole cream cheese ice cream.
From 4-6 p.m. daily at Meril, $5 will get you your choice of select flatbreads, house liquors and select wines.
Elegant, romantic Delmonico hits a happy note every day from 5-7 p.m. with $.99 char-grilled oysters, $5 small plates (candied bacon, fried green tomatoes with remoulade, pancetta-wrapped gates, fresh sausage of the day, salmon rillettes, shrimp and corn beignets, deviled eggs of the day and French fries), and half-priced specialty and house cocktails, all wines by the glass and select bottles of wine.
Mondays-Fridays, 5-7 p.m., Emeril’s flagship restaurant offers small plates, wine pairings, house liquors and specialty cocktails, all for $5 each. The selection changes monthly, so check their website. Meanwhile, NOLA, Emeril’s long-time presence in the French Quarter, features select wines by the glass, house liquors, specialty cocktails and small plates, all available for $5 each. Small plates currently on offer are house-made Andouille sausage with wildflower honey mustard and jardinière; pork cracklin nachos with pâté, jalapeño-onion salsa, and queso; New Orleans hot frog legs with bread and butter pickles and garlic yoghurt; alligator sausage bao with house-made hoisin and kimchi; and quattro formaggio pizza with marinara and basil.
Also in the French Quarter, Arnaud’s French 75 Bar (2017 James Beard Foundation Award Winner for Outstanding Bar Program) hosts a Happy Hour every Friday from 3-5:30 p.m. with half-off select wines by the glass, $5 specialty cocktails and a bar menu with items ranging from $5 (savory palmiers with gruyere cheese, Chisesi ham and Dijon mustard) to $19.50 (a selection of four cheeses from St. James Cheese Company: Challerhocker, Point Reyes Blue, Ubriacone and Manchego).
With its deep, graceful front porch and lush, verdant gardens, the impeccably restored and maintained historic Italianate raised center hall cottage that houses The Country Club offers a beautiful retreat from the outside world. Each of the three dining rooms is adorned with stunning hand-painted floral murals by local artist Cindy Mathis that walk the fine line between sexy and proper. Whimsical paintings by southern artist Louis St. Lewis are scattered throughout and highlighted by custom lighting that makes the works sparkle. Head to the oasis any day from 4-7 p.m. for $3 well drinks.
Bar 1908, a fast craft bar in the Pythian Market food hall, hits the Happy Hour button seven days a week, 4-7 p.m. with $6 house wines, $5 draft beer, $18 draft pitchers and $7 Grand Temple Old Fashioneds and gin and tonics.
On a quiet, tree-lined stretch of Magazine Street, Tito’s Ceviche & Pisco offers $6 pisco sours and house wine, $1 off all beers and $8 shrimp ceviche and salmon crudo Mondays-Fridays, 3-6 p.m.
Nearby Bordeaux offers $5 select wines by the glass and all cocktails for the same thrifty price Tuesdays-Thursdays, 4-6 p.m., and Fridays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Domenica offers Happy Hours every day (including holidays) from 2-6 p.m. where all pizzas, wine by the glass, select beers and well cocktails are half-off.
Every Sunday this summer, NOPSI Hotel’s Above the Grid rooftop pool and bar will be host to Sunday Swim Society, a free, fun-filled day for locals to enjoy friends and family while soaking in the sun and enjoying healthy fare and Leinenkugel drink specials. With a lively DJ, corn hole, giant Jenga board and more, this will be the hottest spot of the season. On Mondays from 9 p.m.-midnight the hotel’s Public Service Bar Industry Night brings music by DJ Marcus Lott, half-price glasses of wine, $5 drafts, Boilermaker Specials starting at $5 and $12 Public burgers.
As lovely as its namesake, Happy Hour at Sofia pops up every Tuesday through Friday, 4-7 p.m. This summer enjoy spritzes and Vodka Matteo Mules for $7, Peroni on draft for $4 and glasses of wine (red, white and sparkling) for $6. Small plates range $ 5-7 each and include meatballs, garlic bread, insalata, Margherita pizza, rosemary potatoes with chili aioli and olives.
Arnaud’s, 813 Bienville St., 523-5433, ArnaudsRestaurant.com
Bar 1908 at Pythian Market, 234 Loyola Ave., 481-9599, PythianMarket.com
Bordeaux, 4734 Magazine St., 273-5747, BordeauxNola.com
Bourbon House, 144 Bourbon St., 522-0111, BourbonHouse.com
Brennan’s, 417 Royal St., 525-9711, BrennansNewOrleans.com
Briquette, 701 S. Peters St., 302-7496, Briquette-Nola.com
The Country Club, 634 Louisa St., 945-0742, TheCountryClubNewOrleans.com
Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, 716 Iberville St., 522-2467, DickieBrennansSteakhouse.com
Domenica, 123 Baronne St., 648-6020, DomenicaRestaurant.com
Emeril’s, 800 Tchoupitoulas St., 528-9393, EmerilsRestaurants.com/emerils
Delmonico, 1300 St Charles Ave., 525-4937, EmerilsRestaurants.com/delmonico
Meril, 424 Girod St, 526.-745, EmerilsRestaurants.com/meril
NOLA, 534 St Louis St, 522.6652, EmerilsRestaurants.com/nola
NOPSI Hotel, 317 Baronne St, 844. 439.1463, NOPSIHotel.com
Palace Cafe’s Black Duck Bar, 605 Canal St., 523.1661, PalaceCafe.com
Ralph’s on the Park, 900 City Park Ave., 488-1000, RalphsOnThePark.com
Red Fish Grill, 115 Bourbon St., 598-1200, RedFishGrill.com
Sofia, 516 Julia St., 322-3216, SofiaNola.com
Tableau, 616 St Peter St., 934-3463, TableauFrenchQuarter.com
Tito’s Ceviche & Pisco, 5015 Magazine St, 267-7612, TitosCevichePisco.com