Happy Hour is an integral part of American life. After a long day at work, a quick stop at a local dive with friends is just what the doctor ordered. For many of us, it is also a great opportunity to drum up a little business in a more relaxed environment than the office.
Whatever the reason, an ideal Happy Hour should meet a few criteria. First and foremost, it should have great drinks at great prices; but the food and atmosphere are just as important. In a sea of literally hundreds of Happy Hour venues, delicious appetizers and excellent service never go amiss. It is also a bonus if you can hold a conversation, since catching up or networking might be the goal of the afternoon.
With those things in mind, we’ve compiled a list (by no means comprehensive) of some of our favorite Happy Hour spots in Denver.
The drinks served at Adrift are as colorful as the atmosphere. Photo courtesy of Adrift’s instagram page.
As far as themed restaurants go, Adrift is one of our favorites. This Broadway icon is a Tiki Bar, featuring Polynesian and Caribbean-style drinks and decor. The walls are lined with bamboo and worn wooden planks, giving it the feel of a cozy beach hut. Giant carved Tiki idols greet customers, who can choose to sit in a more intimate booth or at the lantern-strewn bar.
Adrift prides itself on using the freshest ingredients for food and drink, banishing the notion of the overly-sweet tropical drink. Their Happy Hour Menu includes island classics, like the Mai Tai with toasted almond orgeat, or a house margarita.
For something a little bolder, you might try the “Singapore Sling.” This delightful concoction is made with gin and incorporates black cherry, orange, pomegranate, lime, pineapple, bitters, rosewater, and soda.
Pair your drink with one of Adrift’s appetizers or small plates. The Volcano Fries are crispy and spicy, thanks to a batter seasoned with Island Spice. I love that there are healthier options available, too. The cucumber salad is fresh and crunchy, topped with savory pork floss and sesame seeds.
Venue Bonus Points: Adrift is working to help preserve our oceans by offering a reusable bamboo straw with your drink for $2. Now that is what we call “drinking responsibly.”
Adrift Happy Hour: 5pm-7pm daily
Special Events: Tiki Tuesdays (Happy Hour specials served all day)
A gorgeous geometric pattern lines the walls of Ash’Kara. Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com
Ash’Kara specializes in contemporary Israeli cuisine, with nods to the Middle Eastern, North African, and Mediterranean regions as well. Ash’Kara itself is a melange of languages, being a Hebrew word derived from Arabic meaning “right on.”
Ash’Kara’s Happy Hour features unique cultural spins on classic drinks and appetizers. Cocktails incorporate fresh and exotic elements, like a Spritz with olive and bergamot, or a Sangria with hints of pine and cinnamon.
Appetizers at Ash’Kara are just as delicate and delicious. I recommend a bowl of spiced olives or a serving of hummus with warm pita bread. For heartier fare, you have to try the lamb kebab served with saffron and pomegranate molasses. The flavors are absolutely fantastic.
Ash’Kara Happy Hour: 3pm-5:30pm daily
Delicious bites served at Ultreia. Photo courtesy of ultreiadenver.com.
Union Station is a fun place to visit any time, but their options for food and beverage help make it one of the best happy hour spots in the city.
Ultreia’s Happy Hour list is short, but sweet. Guests can choose from house wines or a small list of classic cocktails that includes vermouth, sangria, or gin and tonic.
The drinks are smooth and delicious, but it is the food at Ultreia that really sets it apart. The restaurant specializes in “pintxos,” small plates traditionally eaten in northern Spain in bar settings. During Happy Hour, each pintxo is only $3, which is great news, since you’ll be wanting more than a couple.
Goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon are our personal favorite, but the fried eggplant with honey and Za’atar is a close second. Paired with a smoky house Red, you’ll be content to just people-watch for a couple hours.
Ultreia Happy Hour: Monday through Friday, from 3pm-6pm
Work and Class
Breaded and bacon-wrapped chiles rellenos and a cold beer at Work and Class. Photo courtesy of workandclassdenver.com
If you never thought you could have a full-blown, comfort food meal during Happy Hour, then you have never been to Work and Class. The low-key venue offers itself as a place to get a “square meal, a stiff drink, and a fair price.” Something about that resonates with us, especially after the last couple of years.
The menu is a combination of American and Latin-inspired dishes, a nod to the co-owners’ backgrounds. At Happy Hour, you can enjoy generous pours of classic spirits and cocktails (the “Extra” Long Island Tea is aptly named).
With the stiff drink covered, turn your attention to the square meal. W&C’s dishes are stick-to-your-ribs, so be warned. A spicy chicken potpie with chipotle gravy is especially comforting on a cold day, but the Tater Tot Lamb Poutine is the star of the show. Crispy, crunchy tater tots are smothered in house-made lamb ragu and melted Wisconsin cheese curds. I’ll drink to that.
Work and Class Happy Hour: Wednesday through Sunday, 5-6pm
Food for Thought
The restaurant industry is experiencing unprecedented staffing shortages and supply chain interruptions, so it is wise to call ahead to verify hours and seating availability. Keep these things in mind when you are interacting with staff and try to be as patient and kind as possible.
And, of course, remember to drink responsibly and follow all COVID-19 protocols. Be safe and have fun!
Where do you like to go for Happy Hour in Denver? Let me know in the comments!