By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Three ladies sat at a corner of the bar at Sawyer Park, a staple on the Washington Avenue scene since the place opened. The women, all recent college graduates — two from Texas A&M University, the other from Texas Christian University — drank liquor mixed with soda.
Sawyer Park never has trouble packing in people looking to down a high volume of booze after the sunsets, but during the early hours, it's a different story.
Besides the three ladies, there were maybe a dozen other people in the sprawling bar. But, unlike the late-night crowd, these women would avoid paying full price for drinks for another couple hours, because, as all the large signs hanging in the bar proclaim, happy hour runs until 9 p.m.
Sarah Durkee, one of the Aggie grads, said she goes out two or three nights during the workweek. She used to be a regular at the Flying Saucer when she worked downtown.
"We could just walk over right after work for a few drinks," Durkee said. "I liked it because there were always a lot of other young professionals there."
Since moving to a job outside the Loop, however, finding a regular spot for after-work drinks has been tough. Her friend Claire Reichert has the same problem.
"I never came to this bar before," Reichert said, swirling her vodka drink with her straw. "But I just go by hearsay, and people I know like to come here."
And a lot of people in Houston are up against the same issue. With so many options to choose from, finding a bar or restaurant with the perfect mix of price, crowd and location can be a daunting task.
As the summer approaches and the bar season heats up, the Houston Press presents its list of recommended happy hours. This isn't all of them — we'll leave that to our Happy Hour App program (see "We're So App-App-Appy") and our Happy Hour listings page — but these happy hours are the ones that will be listed on our Web site and updated as needed.
From upscale bars to dives, and gay bars to the pick-up scene, we've grouped the places in categories to help you find exactly what you're looking for. Hopefully, when you're looking to grab a few drinks in these best hours, you'll never be in the dark again.
As Durkee simply put it, "Happy hour is important."
If you're looking for the prototypical "Me and a few white-collar office workers just got off and we're heading out to throw a few back" happy hour scene, you can do no better than the Flying Saucer. Perhaps that has something to do with its selection of beers (more than 280 types) being able to outnumber the bar's occupancy (250)? Specials aren't relegated to happy hour either. On Mondays you can get a pint of brew for $3.
Happy hours: Tuesday through Thursday 4-7 p.m.; Friday 4-8 p.m.
Hearsay Gastro Lounge
Despite the unattactiveness of the word "gastro," the casually upscale Hearsay Gastro Lounge is one of the nicest places you'll enjoy a beverage in town. And whether you're looking to get $3 margaritas (Mondays), $6 wines (Wednesdays), $6 wells (Thursdays), or to just cheapskate it with free drinks (Thursdays alcohol reps come in and offer freebies), it has got you covered. Free hummus is available daily as well.
Happy hours: Monday through Thursday 4-7 p.m.
Every single day of the year for the past (seemingly) 900 years, La Carafe has offered up its happy hour specials to about as diverse a group of people as you're going to find in any one place. And considering that La Carafe is already known for offering fairly cheap drinks (glasses of wine run mostly $3-$4) despite the time of day, it's completely okay for it to have an established "All drinks are 50 cents cheaper during happy hour, and that's that" rule. Stop in Thursdays for the wine-tasting segment of its happy hour.
Happy hours: Seven days a week 4-7 p.m.
801 St. Emanuel St.
For those looking to do the downtown happy hour thing without actually being in the thick of the madness, the expansive Lucky's Pub is likely the way to go: Expect a mix of 25- to 45-year-old professionals who have wandered over from across Highway 59 (or underneath, rather). At $2 a pop for domestic drafts, it's not hard to figure out why people are there. Pop in on Wednesday for game nights so you can get pwned by some Xbox or Nintendo Wii weirdos.
Happy hours: Monday through Friday 4-7 p.m.
Sherlock's Baker St. Pub
1952 W. Gray
Sherlock's in River Oaks has developed the right combination for making it a solid chain establishment. It's always crowded, the drinks are ridiculously cheap and the bar is built around happy hour. Beers, cocktails and wines are $1.75, and premium liquor drinks are $3. During happy hour on Friday, just about every drink is 99 cents.