A Toast to Happy Hour
Photograph via andipantz/sxc.hu
Here’s to that midweek cushion between 4 and 7PM, when bars and restaurants offer specials to lure in pub-goers in need of lively crowds, specialty drinks, and free food. Here is a sample of local hot spots to meet with friends, reconnect with your spouse, or swap office gossip with coworkers before heading home. Don’t we all deserve a trip to our happy place every once in a while?
Scene Pour a long steady stream of off-the-train commuter groups ready to relax. Nice mix of people.
Deals Artichoke salad and Fisher Island oysters rank high on our list.
Specialty Drink It is a wine bar, isn’t it? Along with a fine selection, you might find yourself tempted by a wine-tasting menu, with hors d’oeuvres and entrées (available every other month (good luck resisting). Also, it’s the bartender's discretion to offer freebies, so be nice.
Entertainment Set the mood with Italian music and a little light jazz.
View You’re not alone, but not squished either in the 70-seat outdoor dining area.
Bottom Line Don’t take yourself so seriously — as if you could with all this wine around.
55 Miller St. in Fairfield, (203) 256-0099.
Visit their sister locations:
Cava at 2 Forest St., in New Canaan, (203) 966-6946.
Scena at 1077 Post Road, Darien, (203) 662-3226.
Scene Kick back and drink with commuters and the University crowd.
Deals 1/2 price wings Monday - Friday 4-7pm!
Specialty Drink Uh, beer. Duh.
Entertainment No live music. People watching will do the trick
View don’t look down the carpet is gnarly.
Bottom Line Best wings around since 1898. Period. Very family friendly with lots of kids on the weekends.
48 Sanford St. in Fairfield, (203) 256-9295.
Scene Equal parts 30- and 40-somethings. The bar has been expanded from the former O Bar. It still has a hint of “too cool for you,” so bring your ’tude.
Deals The daily bar menu offers selections in the $7-$15 range. Try the Tapas specials.
Specialty Drink Try their champagne bar. A bit of the bubbly never hurt anyone.
Entertainment Come here to move to the rhythm — the music is part of the scene, not the background. A DJ spins Friday, Saturday and Sundays nights.
View Cozy up on a small patio.
Bottom Line If you like to drink martinis, you have found your Nirvana close to home.
50 Sanford St., Fairfield, (203) 259-4151.
Scene Grrrrrrrr, Cougars and some hip 20-30 somethings.
Deals None. But who needs a deal when the wine tastes so good.
Specialty Drink Any pour off their adventuresome wine list.
Entertainment Besides the 1950’s classic Italian movies always playing on their big screen, it’s all about the crowd. It’s see and be seen in Fairfield.
View The whole front of the restaurant has large floor to ceiling glass doors that open to the sidewalk and an outdoor patio gives you a view of the Post Rd. But don’t look out there. Get a load of their 40’ Carrera marble bar and the sumptuous leather curved booths, perfect for holding court.
Bottom Line if you get their for happy hour you may just have a shot of getting a table for dinner.
1215 Post Rd. in Fairfield, (203) 292-8288.
GREENWICH | OLD GREENWICH | COS COB
Scene Hoppin' happy hour in a very bright and cheerful atmosphere.
Deals Select beers are $2 off Monday - Friday 5 − 7pm and Todd’s Tower appetizer— 3 for $9.95, chose from mussels, ribs, buffalo tenders, and calamari.
Specialty Drink The “Beach Bum” has 3 different Malibu Rums- pineapple, coconut and mango with pineapple and cranberry juice with sour mix. It’s a light and refreshing cocktail all year round.
Entertainment Wednesday is Grateful Dead Night with live music at 8pm, trivia and prizes! Live music on Thursdays at 8pm, Friday and Saturday nights starting at 10pm.
View Not so much, but who cares when you’re groovin’ to the tunes.
Bottom Line Stay for dinner the food is fabulous.
220 Sound Beach Ave. in Old Greenwich, (203) 637-0367.
Visit their sister location, Sundown Saloon at 403 Greenwich Ave. in Greenwich, (203) 629-8212.
Scene Wide range of folks from 20’s - 40’s Casual tavern feel
Deals Monday-Friday $3 Budweisers and 1/2 price wings 4-6:30pm.
Specialty Drink Be on look out for the Cos Cobber
Entertainment Soon to come live entertainment from bands to Karaoke.music.
View It’s not about the outside it’s about what’s happening inside. (Although, when you cozy up to the bar on a cold winter’s night you can watch the snow fall through the huge windows.)
Bottom Line This family friendly place has an old school feel.
31 East Putnam Ave. in Cos Cob, (203) 992-1333.
Scene Packed with single professionals straight up.
Deals Their lounge menu with special cocktails and nibbles is divine.
Specialty Drink It doesn’t matter what you’re drinking when the view is that good.
Entertainment Thursday nights live music.
View The coveted Greenwich waterfront with a large covered patio overlooking the harbor.
Bottom Line Swanky by the Sound.
Nibbles— Don’t neglect the superb Provencale menu infused with a Mediterranean flare the food is elegant and delicious.
500 Steamboat Rd. in Greenwich (203) 661-4600.
Scene Suit up to drink with commuters in this English Pub, cheerio.
Deals $1 off most drinks Monday - Friday 3 − 7pm and from 5 − 7pm Free, hot hors d’oeuvres.
Specialty Drink This is a pub, so think beer, beer and more beer. In the summer their sund“Commuter Cooler” is a hit.
Entertainment Night Market live music on Thursdays from 9:30pm and occasional Saturday nights and otherwise shake your groove thing to their digital jukebox.
View Of the train tracks. But you can sit outside.
Bottom Line The restaurant is only so-so, but very family friendly with lots of kids on the weekends.
148 Sound Beach Ave. in Old Greenwich, (203) 698-0223.
Scene Meet up with fellow party people in this New England Tavern.
Specialty Drink 23 Beers on tap and quite a few in bottles.
Entertainment Occasional live music on Saturday nights.
View Upstairs private room is often opened up for dining with views of Greenwich Ave. The cozy, quiet fireside dining room seats no more than 7 other diners.
Nibbles Don’t miss out on their tummy yummy burgers after your boat race with the frat boys.
Bottom Line Rowdy bar scene great for sports night.
64 Greenwich Ave. in Greenwich, (203) 861-6400.
99 Washington St # 2 in Norwalk, (203) 354-0163.
Scene Canoodle on their sofas in this sophisticated bar.
Deals Not really.
Specialty Drink Their wine list is big, but not intimidating.
Entertainment I think they have music on Thursdays or something.
View Why look outside when everyone inside is so interesting.
Nibbles Hooray! At the bar, you can order off their restaurant menu featuring New American cuisine that’s organic, fresh and locally farmed whenever possible.
Bottom Line We hear it can become a little cougar-ish with the ladies from out of town playing the field.
36 Pine St. in New Canaan, (203) 966-5200.
Scene One pure shot of well-dressed, upbeat 35 and ups.
Deals Margarita Original sets you back $8.50, but for two bucks more you can have it made with any tequila or mezcal on their list.
Specialty Drink Go ahead, study their menu about the history of tequila and pony up on the rankings: blanco, joven and reposed, but all you’ll be saying is, “Ole!” after a few tastings from the 250 varieties of tequila and that’s bueno.
Entertainment Only the bartender and the lively crowd.
View No outside view, but we prefer checking out the crowd.
Bottom Line Document-able proof that all of us can lighten up.
6 Forest St. in New Canaan, (203) 966-2222.
Scene Swanky bar area with a clubby, mature feel—think “wood paneled and leather chairs” not Studio 54.
Deals Not so much.
Specialty Drink Whatever the bartender is pouring.
Entertainment On Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7 − 10:30PM tap your toes to Guitarist, Vinnie Ferone.
View on nice evenings enjoy your cocktails on the big covered porch off the front where you can see and be seen
Nibbles If you can’t stay for dinner, order anything from their pub menu.
Bottom Line The Inn has a restaurant which is kind of stuffy; but the bar area is adult cool.
195 Oenoke Rdg. in New Canaan, (203) 966-4541.
Scene A jigger of 30s and 40s, a dash of over 40s, stir into a base of business attire. After dark, throw in a splash of trendy 20s.
Deals Tapas start at $3.50; share with tried-and-true and new friends.
Specialty Drink Sangria by the pitcher. The extensive wine menu offers selections from all over the world. As Twilight fans, we favor the Blood Orange Margarita (gold tequila, Triple Sec, lime, sour mix and blood orange juice).
Entertainment Spanish guitar plays overhead most nights. Wanna dance? Head to the Norwalk location for DJ Thursdays-Saturdays.
View Nice patio area at the Fairfield location; SoNo spills out to an active nightlife.
Bottom Line Fabulous food, fun, frolicking and friendly.
63 No. Main St. in Norwalk, (203) 899-0088.
4180 Black Rock Tpke in Fairfield, (203) 255-0800.
18 West Putnam Ave. in Greenwich, (203) 983-6400.
Scene Serious sports fans of all ages
Deals $1 off drinks Monday-Friday 4 − 7pm
Specialty Drink It’s really all about the beer.
Entertainment Every Friday and Saturday live music 10pm till close.
Bottom Line Slightly surly service, but the 10 flat screen TV’s, a sports channel for international games, and pool tables make up for it.
280 Connecticut Ave. in Norwalk, (203) 642-4599.
Scene Pack in this gigantic bar and watch the crowd of 20 − 40 somethings watch sports.
Deals $3 for all draft beers, mixed well drinks and house wine Monday - Friday 4 − 7pm. $5 appetizer menu at the bar that includes flat bread pizza on Fridays
Specialty Drink I love the bartender, John’s “ Johnny Appleseed” — a bomb shot using Angry Orchard hard cider as the base and drop in a shot of 1/2 Goldschläger and 1/2 Apple Pucker.
Entertainment Karaoke Wednesdays at 9pm. Friday or Saturday nights, DJ at 9PM and live bands at 10:30pm.
View Watch the revelers outside on Washington St. through their huge plate glass windows.
Bottom Line A rowdy, roomy bar with a TV screen bigger than an SUV.
80 Washington Street in South Norwalk, (203) 299-0711.
Scene Estimate equal parts 20s to 60s (the good stuff) and shake, stir, whir.
Deals Butter up the bartender, you never know.
Specialty Drink Everything tastes better in this bar/restaurant that feels like a smarmy (in a good way) yacht club.
Entertainment Patio doors open with good weather; live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Midweek you’ll hear Top 40, you know you like those songs, too.
View The river that runs through quaint, well-heeled Rowayton.
Bottom Line It’s hard to be formal when everyone knows your stuff.
148 Rowayton Ave. in Rowayton, (203) 853-7245.
Scene Upscale folk who don’t like to mention their age.
Deals Really? You’re not here for deals.
Specialty Drink Any top shelf drink you can imagine.
Entertainment Checking out the other patrons.
View Your reflection in the antique glass mirror behind the bar. Or when the weather’s nice their Pergola/Garden Bar tucked in the courtyard is sublime.
Nibbles Eat at the bar or in the chic restaurant. The food is wonderful.
Bottom Line To call this a Tavern seems almost silly. It’s light, bright, shiny and so Scandinavian I think Ingmar Bergman decorated it. (That’s a compliment.)
275 Old Post Rd, Southport (203) 307-4222.
Scene Well heeled 30’s and 40 year olds out on the town.
Deals No deals for cougars in heels.
Specialty Drink Signature Mojitos, try the “Orange Citrus Mojito.” It’s lip smacking.
Entertainment It’s all about the crowd.
View A peak at downtown Southport out the windows.
Nibbles Their “Little Plates” are perfect for the bar and offer sophisticate choices like Fire-Grilled Oysters on the Halfshell (no jalapeno poppers here).
Bottom Line Snazzily dressed “townies” out for great food and good fun.
246 Old Post Rd., Southport, (203) 292-8779.
STAMFORD | PORT CHESTER
Scene Young NYC feel and gets a great crowd at night. The decor is white and blue and billowy, Soooo cool.
Specialty Drink Clarico custom made Sangria (with your choice of wine).
Entertainment Thursday - Sunday DJ’s spinning great tunes and Live music. Loud in the bar though.
View Wood deck outside for seating in Port Chester.
Nibbles Absolutely fantastico, authentic, fresh simple mexican food, mostly tacos - pulled pork, duck, chorizo filling with a smidge of cilantro, chopped onion and hot sauce. Muy Bien!
Bottom Line The staff is very young and gorgeous and hip.
222 Summer St. in Stamford, (203) 323-TACO.
1 Willett Ave. in Port Chester, NY (914) 937-TACO.
Scene Younger crowd on the weekends, lots of 30 - 40's professionals during the week and game watching sports fans on Sundays and Mondays.
Deals $3 domestic beer, $4 house wine/glass, $5 well drinks and a special appetizer menu for $8 on Monday - Friday 5 - 8pm.
Specialty Drink BU8 Cocktails like "The Ratpack" made with lemonade, fresh brewed iced tea and Kettle One Orange Vodka.
Entertainment Comedy Club in their upstairs room on Saturday Nights at 9pm with 2 -3 acts.$17.50-$20/ticket. Screech is coming on Nov 12th!!
View Looks out onto the active nightlife of Bedford St.
Nibbles Chocolate Chip Cookie Smash dessert is out of this world.
Bottom Line Party people at the bar as it gets later, otherwise it's a very family friendly restaurant.
112 Bedford St. in Stamford, (203) 504-8123.
Scene Downtown Stamford business folks during happy hour, but the "reverse happy hour" from 10pm - 12am is elbow to elbow 20 somethings.
Deals 1/2 price Appetizers and Discounted Drinks like $3.50 Bud Lights, $5 glasses of wine, and $4 Margaritas on Monday-Friday 3 - 7pm, Monday-Saturday 10pm - 12am and Saturday 1 - 5pm
Specialty Drink Sake Bomb- 22oz Kirin (Japanese beer) with a shot of hot sake dropped in.
Entertainment Ambient music
View The hoppin Stamford Town Center from the Heated Outdoor Patio.
Nibbles Avocado Egg Rolls, juicy Chicken Satay, and the full sushi bar.
Bottom Line Drink with your work buddies or go late night to party hardy.
230 Tresser Blvd. in Stamford, (203) 324-5700.
Scene Slowly pour in trendy couples and after-work business professionals, mostly 40s; add a splash of families and groups enjoying dinner.
Deals Free calamari during Happy Hour. $21 gets you an appetizer, entrée and dessert. On Tuesdays, pair that deal with their wine special: 50% off bottles under $100 and 25% off those over $100. (We know our choice, but you may have a pickier palate.)
Specialty Drink It’s up to the mixologist (aka bartender) — if you’re not tempted by a Cosmojito, the White Peach Martini is refreshing.
Entertainment You like to hear your friends? Good, here the music lingers.
View You’d expect a patio, what with the two-story Mediterranean country house feel here, river view and all. But alas, there’s none.
Nibbles Check out the deals— delish and inexpensive.
Bottom Line Escape Main Street, and forget the time.
43 Main St. in Westport, (203) 222-8899.
Scene Mix a few couples into groups (varying sizes) of men or women; shake. Everyone here is at least 35 years old, most are regulars.
Deals Half-price drinks Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m.; free appetizers at the bar, 5 p.m. We like the bar menu choices (they speak volumes about the place): lobster bisque, yellowfin tuna tartar and, our fav, the artisanal cheese board.
Specialty Drink Westport is wine country; here, we like the Carr Cabernet.
Entertainment Rolling conversations almost overtake the live jazz on Thursdays from the John Cain Duo or Dr. DeTroy and the Bakerman — a waste, because the music is fun.
View A very enviable patio set along the Saugatuck River.
Nibbles It’s OK to order off their menu while snuggled up to the bar.
Bottom Line Chill, these are happy hour masters.
299 Riverside Ave. in Westport, (203) 226-5532.
Scene A sophisticated blend of 40-ups in small groups or pairings, add a few fine singles feeling at home, garnish with designer jeans or in-season dresses.
Deals Thursday’s $6 martinis: choose “Pear Flower” (vodka, St. Germain, sparkling wine), “Mango” (mango vodka, lemonade and cranberry) or “42 Below” (with olives); add $25 for appetizer and entrée.
Specialty Drink The secret “Tavernini,” but the good wine list is a tempting option.
Entertainment Was there any? Drowning in martinis, we vaguely recalled soft hits of the ’70s and light jazz.
View Patio doors open in good weather.
Nibbles Chef-prepared appetizers like the vegetable-and-shrimp wontons. Yum!
Bottom Line A no-fuss night.
146 Main St. in Westport, (203) 221-7222.
Scene Character beyond character in the old barge as it lists into the Saugatuck River. You will see everyone here from your ladies who lunch, to families grabbing a bite, to rough looking seamen.
Deals Reduced drink prices Monday-Thursday from 4 - 6:30pm. Happy hour on Friday includes a free buffet 4:00 - 7:00. Plus Happy Hour drink prices whenever it snows (the whole time it snows)!
Specialty Drink beer, beer, and more beer; on tap in a bottle or a can.
Entertainment Live music, we tapped our toes to an Indigo Girls-like group and if there’s no band load up their juke box; oh yeah.
View Saugatuck River out their large picture windows.
Nibbles Fabulous fried food; the hamburgers rock.
Bottom Line Bottom’s up-fun!
605 Riverside Ave. in Westport, (203) 227-7978.
Scene Take large glass, add a generous amount of carbonated 20-somethings. Couples and groups, businessmen, young teachers, all comfortably at ease in whatever jeans.
Deals Monday-Friday, 5 - 7 pm: free pizza — scoff if you want, but when your bartender brings you one, you’re psyched.
Specialty Drink a vast by the glass wine menu with 21 wines from California to New Zealand. We love their “V Sangria,” a mix of red wine, vodka and fruit.
Entertainment Hits from the ’80s and ’90s played at a level that you notice without irritation; it’s more like, “Oh, I like that song.”
View No patio or water views, but the bar is separate from the restaurant.
Nibbles Their appetizers are perfect with a few glasses of wine— Foccacia Crab Cake? Bring it on!
Bottom Line Loosen up.
1460 Post Rd. East in Westport, (203) 259-1160.