Although we live in a city where beer flows freely and happy hours are abundant, man (or woman) cannot live by cans of PBR alone. As holiday bills rack up, the icy wind howls and seasonal affective disorder kicks in, it can be tricky to find an establishment with a truly innovative, inexpensive, depression-fighting special. Lucky for you, we've rounded up some of the best (and strangest) deals in town, one for every day of the week—since you never know when you'll need that extra cocktail, or that extra helping of downward dog or charcoal pencils.
Sure, the rest of the world is chowing on pancakes and sipping mimosas at Sunday brunch, but who's gonna argue with the Matador if it wants to serve champagne Monday afternoons? Leave daylight behind and stumble into the blood-red Burnside dive where, from 2 to 7 pm every Monday, your $9 mimosa glass will be bottomless (or filled with just champagne if that's your poison). And don't scoff at the bar's $1 pancake deal either, because when it arrives—fluffy, delicious, and big as the plate—you'll know marathon champagne drinking can be possible. You're going to need multiple hours to take it all in anyway—the random movies playing in the background, the soulful jazz band randomly congregating by the bar, the spooky stories with which regulars often regale those sitting within earshot….
Bonus: Pancakes come with free sausage links. Life doesn't get much better.
Bummer: Upon leaving the bar, an intoxicated homeless person may vomit on your shoe. In fact, I'd say it's likely.
For a healthy spin on happy hour, check out this $5 yoga class special. All the contorting and chanting helps cleanse your body of malevolent toxins, while your classmates' friendly faces leave you with a genuine and beneficial buzz. Though normal classes will cost around $13, these Tuesday and Thursday classes are a cheap yoga gateway drug. The simple and unpretentious studio boasts a cozy atmosphere—it's a quick way to get to know the variety of people who attend the classes. The class is casual enough that everyone can work at their own level without feeling too weird.
Bonus: Even if you're unfamiliar with the world of yoga stretch pants, the instructors are welcoming and encouraging every step (and bend) of the way.
Bummer: For the flexibility-challenged, the experience can be overwhelming, especially when the discussion turns to how one's menstrual cycle can affect one's movements. Awkward....
As if toning those calves weren't incentive enough, Tapalaya gives us another reason to bike—an endless happy hour. At least, it's endless on Wednesdays, when you ride your bike to this Northeast 28th Avenue Cajun-Creole small-plates joint. The happy-hour menu packs in everything from fried pickles ($2) and blackened catfish ($4) to the "Taste of Tapalaya" ($4), which offers a revolving trio of bites, often including cornmeal-breaded oysters and spicy collard greens. With its classy, colorful interior and friendly wait staff, this is a total bike-friendly cheap date spot.
Bonus: With $2 martinis and giant $3 hurricanes, you can get your date so sloshed he or she will forget you took them to happy hour on the handle bars of your bike, and think you're classy.
Bummer: Even though you're getting a deal on food, the real menu looks more tempting—just try to resist stealing bites of the jambalaya from the wealthier, four-wheel-riding patrons.
Though I'm not a big fan of sweets, I can appreciate Pix Pâtisserie's extravagant, pretty pastries and desserts on display. But I can appreciate its happy hour on weekdays
because that's when thrifty customers receive $2 off glasses of sparkling wine, free bar snacks and a $4 aperitif bar, featuring European classics with very long and complicated names (Pineau des Charentes, Fernet-Branca, Becherovka). There's never a dull moment in a shop that mixes sugar-crazed children, chocoholics and foodies.
Free movies at the shop 8:30 pm Mondays—everything from
Unless you want to have a
-esque moment—à la Debbie when she shows up for her date at the wrong Sea Merchant—don't hit up the Division Street Pix for the happy hour. Sadly (and embarrassingly for me), it's only offered at the NoPo location…and you're going to look like an alcoholic.
This neighborhood pub warms the cockles of my heart when I'm missing the wilds of Brooklyn, where "shot-and-a-beer" specials run rampant. The staff even steps it up by offering more than your usual can of Black Label and rubbing alcohol—at Vertigo you can grab any draft beer and a shot of Jameson, Jose, Jäger or Jack (all the important J's) for $6. The atmosphere isn't wildly exciting, but it's comfortable and the clientele is laid back—lacking the circling crazies who often want to "chat" with strangers.
Bonus: Fun picnic table seating outside.
Bummer: Be careful when you carry your shot and beer to those fun picnic tables out the side door…that door's a sticky one, and Jameson belongs in your belly, not on the sidewalk.
Cassidy's is known as a haunt for ravenous servers and bartenders just getting off shift, and everything from mussels to burgers to linguine is only $5.75 a pop during happy hour (minimum one drink purchase). Careful preparation and presentation make your late-night dinner feel like a refined, spendy meal. The owner is usually found lounging against the bar, chatting with regulars while Bob Dylan plays in the background. The sizable space isn't as crowded during happy hour as one might expect, perhaps due to the swarm of panhandlers outside—but don't be deterred. Cassidy's charisma is well worth the trouble of having to slip by a couple of headcases to get inside.
Bonus: Scooter's is next door—nothing says class like beginning or ending the night with a couple of Jell-O shots.
Bummer: Parking can be a bitch in the area (thanks, Crystal Ballroom), and the meter maid is to be feared at all times.
For the artistically inclined, this happy hour includes all the best things in life: the chance to flaunt your skills in front of your peers, a cozy community of like-minded people, and a shot of Henry McKenna whiskey with a pint of PBR for $5. The ambience of the expansive bar is ideal, dimly lit with pool tables scattered down the middle of the room. Friendly bar staff pour whiskey shots for the blossoming and broke-ass artists who participate in the creative merriment. The world just seems a little brighter when you're busy doodling pictures of drunken friends.
Bonus: If you're not feeling the creative flow, pool is free all Sunday night, so channel your whiskey power in another direction and grab a pool cue.
Bummer: Those who don't usually attend may feel out of sorts when faced with the tight-knit crowd of arty regulars.