Serious happy hours at NYC bars and restaurants

Forget fratty mobs and weak beers—the happy hours at these top spots afford finger-licking bar snacks and buzzy drinks at cut-rate prices.

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  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Corkbuzz

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Burger and beer combo at Allswell, narragansett beer

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Oyster and Sazerac at The Wayland

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Fury cocktail and the raclette at Anfora

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    Bourgeois Pig Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Donna

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Pimm's Cup Royale and Peels punch cocktail at Peels

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    Red Rooster cocktails

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Presbyterian cocktail at Dutch Kills

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    The Brooklyn Star

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Corkbuzz

The city abounds with happy hours—most of them honey traps designed to ensnare office drones with cheap and underwhelming fare. But the specials at these ten restaurants and bars prove you can get superlative bites and drinks for next to nothing, if you know where to look. From half-priced craft cocktails to oyster specials, here are the best happy hour deals in New York.

Corkbuzz

  • Critics choice

When to go: Mon, Fri 5–6pm
Drink this: Laura Maniec’s tony Union Square wine bar is known for both its eclectic selection of international vinos (there are 30 by the glass) and its weekly wine workshops and classes. Get a taste of both with a happy-hour special that offers a blind flight of three wines ($15), presented with a tasting grid to help you break down the flavors and figure out which wine is which (previous selections have included the dry Australian Pewsey Vale riesling and the plummy Argentine Catena malbec).  
Eat this: The menu of affordable bar snacks—not discounted for happy hour—includes spicy marcona almonds and cashews ($7) and crispy pig ears ($10), along with easy-to-pair plates of charcuterie and raw cheeses.
The scene: The pedigreed wine collection tends to attract a more mature crowd, making for a calming respite from the chaos of Union Square.

  1. 13 E 13th St, (between Fifth Ave and University Pl), 10003
More info

Allswell

  • Critics choice

When to go: Daily 4–7pm
Drink this: This handsome Williamsburg gastropub—with chandeliers and a wood-beamed ceiling­—isn’t afraid to get down and dirty with a $7 beer-and-shot deal, which includes combos like Tecate with silky Espolón tequila. Patrons who prefer to pace themselves may opt for one of the discounted New York State drafts ($4), such as Greenport Harbor’s refreshing pale ale.
Eat this: Chef Nate Smith (the Spotted Pig) builds his happy-hour burger using a proprietary blend of dry-aged beef from Vermont Quality Meats, nestling the juicy patty on a house-made sesame bun. Just $14 buys the burger, plus thick-cut fries and an ice-cold tall boy of Narragansett Lager.
The scene: The restaurant’s proximity to McCarren Park (two blocks down Bedford) means you’re likely to encounter more than a few locals during happy hour, dusting off their pants after an afternoon in the grass.

  1. 124 Bedford Ave, (at North 10th St)
More info

The Wayland

  • Critics choice

When to go: Daily 5–7pm
Drink this: This laid-back bar won the ’hood’s affection by coupling solid drinks with a rambunctious atmosphere. Check it out during happy hour, starting next week, when you can sip a $6 glass of the bright, light-bodied Stellina di Notte prosecco, a $4 bottle of beer-snob favorites like the dense, chocolaty Left Hand Milk Stout, or a $7 Sazerac or Manhattan.
Eat this: In addition to the regular menu offerings, including small bites like chicken liver pâté with applewood bacon, happy-hour grub includes $1 oysters sourced from farms up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
The scene: Alphabet City is a prime destination for a craft-cocktail crawl. You might stumble across a few patrons making a night of it, skipping among Pouring Ribbons, Evelyn Drinkery, Elsa and the Wayland.

  1. 700 E 9th St, (at Ave C)
More info

Anfora

When to go: Mon–Sat 5–7pm, Sun 3–5pm
Drink this: This slick wine bar, from the owners of the nearby trattoria Dell’Anima, doesn’t shy away from boosting other types of booze. During happy hour, try one of the half-priced pints ($4) of draft beers, like the crisp Reissdorf Kölsch Ale or a citrusy Fiat Lux Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Reserve, as well as cheap, easy-sipping cocktails ($6) like the Niko, a floral blend of gin, Nikolaihof elderflower liqueur, orange bitters and sparkling wine.
Eat this: On Mondays, ask for the complimentary raclette, a semifirm raw cow’s-milk cheese warmed and scraped onto a plate, accompanied by sopressata, chorizo and prosciutto, as well as briny McClure’s pickles and hunks of Grandaisy bread.
The scene: The place operates as something of a waiting room for the sceney Dell’Anima down the block, but Anfora’s cheese selection and tasty sandwiches, like an Italian banh mi with pickled vegetables and bolognese bianco, make it a solid date spot in its own right.

  1. 34 Eighth Ave, (between Jane and W 12th Sts)
More info

Bourgeois Pig Brooklyn

  • Critics choice

When to go: Mon, Tue 5pm–2am
Drink this: This baroque lounge may be known for its inventive, cross-cultural cocktails, but the accomplished barman who built the menu—Frank Cisneros, of Dram and Gin Palace—is also a trained sommelier. Get a taste of his other passion via the Pig’s extensive wine list, whose bottles are all half off during happy hour. Try one of the many excellent selections from the Loire region, like the spicy Domaine du Pré Baron malbec ($20/bottle), dominated by black cherry and mineral notes, or opt for something lighter, like the Chateau de Roquefort Corail Rose ($24/bottle), a ripe blend of grenache, syrah and cinsault grapes.
Eat this: For $8 a pop, the bar offers savory small plates, like roasted baby vegetables with herbed goat cheese, and braised artichokes with marcona almonds.
The scene: The gothic interior—black chandeliers, a gold-trimmed back bar, walls lined with red velvet—makes it an easy sell for date night. Solo drinkers may simply enjoy the Pig as a refreshing change of pace from typically folksy Brooklyn bars.

  1. 387 Court St, (between 1st and 2nd Pls)
More info

Donna

  • Critics choice

When to go: Mon–Fri 5–7pm, Sat, Sun 4–7pm
Drink this: Happy hour provides a perfect excuse to make an early-evening beeline to Donna, the whitewashed South Williamsburg lounge that’s proved to be one of the year’s hottest new bars. The cocktails from bar manager Jeremy Oertel (Dram, Mayahuel) are half price, including the pleasingly bitter Artichoke Hold ($7), composed of Cynar, Smith & Cross rum, St. Germain, orgeat and lime juice; as well as the Manhattan-like Morgan Town ($7), a velvety mix of bourbon and amaro lightened with mole bitters and Dolin blanc vermouth.
Eat this: Happy-hour small bites ($4) include a mix of house-pickled veggies like carrots and cucumbers sourced from New York farms, as well as Spanish and kalamata olives marinated in extra-virgin olive oil spiced with cinnamon.
The scene: Donna’s roomy interior, inspired by colonial Latin American cathedrals, has made it a favorite destination for large groups. Don’t be surprised if you’re quietly sipping a cocktail one moment and dragged into a wild birthday shindig the next.

  1. 27 Broadway, (at Dunham Pl)
More info

Peels

  • Critics choice

When to go: Daily 4–7pm
Drink this: At this sun-drenched, urban farmhouse from Taavo Somer (Freemans, Isa), the drinks provide a light counterpoint to the menu’s rich, meat-heavy fare. The happy-hour aperitifs, offered for $9 each, include the Peels Punch, a floral mixture of hibiscus-infused pisco brandy, citrusy bianco vermouth and bitters, with fresh lime juice providing an energizing acidity. Or go for the Pimms Cup Royale, a tangy blend of Pimms liqueur, house-made ginger syrup and lime juice, topped with a healthy splash of bubbly.
Eat this: Opt for the house-fried potato chips tossed in tasso spice ($4), pickled shishito peppers, wax beans and radishes ($4), or platters of Island Creek oysters ($3.50 each) from Duxbury, Massachusetts.
The scene: Situated just south of Cooper Union and just north of the New Museum on Bowery, Peels has become something of an art-world clubhouse, especially during the postwork hours.

  1. 325 Bowery, (at 2nd St)
More info

Red Rooster Harlem

When to go: Mon–Thu 4–6pm
Drink this: New Yorkers flock to celebutoque Marcus Samuelsson’s Harlem restaurant for its globalized comfort food such as Swedish meatballs and Berbere roasted chicken. But the cocktail list, featuring half-priced drinks at happy hour, also offers fresh revisions of familiar pleasures. Order the autumnal bourbon Negroni ($7.50), which pairs the drink’s traditional elements—Campari and sweet vermouth—with fig-and-pear–soaked Buffalo Trace bourbon for a candied effect. A lighter option is the garden-fresh Cool as a Cucumber ($6.50), a mixture of vegetal Hendrick’s gin, pressed cucumber juice, mint-infused simple syrup, lemon juice and club soda.
Eat this: Pair your drink with one of the easy-on-the-wallet snacks, like spicy chili wings with lemon yogurt and habanero salsa, or the flavorful collard greens, made with kale (each $8).
The scene: Red Rooster’s crowd is as diverse as Samuelsson’s influences, and that’s part of the restaurant’s draw: Expect to see everyone from Harlem church ladies to adventurous European tourists.

  1. 310 Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave), (between 125th and 126th Sts), 10027
Book online

Dutch Kills

  • Critics choice

When to go: Mon 5pm–2am; Tue–Thu, Sun 5–7pm
Drink this: At this unpretentious Queens saloon—New York’s easternmost bastion of the craft-cocktail movement—veteran barman Richard Boccato (Painkiller, Little Branch) offers expertly crafted, classic tipples adapted from 1930s cocktail books ($8 each). Go for the Presbyterian, a zippy concoction of fresh lime juice, ginger syrup and Old Overholt rye, topped with fizzing club soda, or a tart daiquiri sweetened with mellow Cruzan rum.
Eat this: There’s no food available on-site, but after a few rounds, you may want to stumble a few blocks down Jackson Avenue to the Burger Garage for a Black Angus beef patty topped with melted American cheese ($5.20).
The scene: Dutch Kills’ low price point ($11 per cocktail during normal hours) and its laid-back pace make it a destination for off-duty bartenders seeking quality drinks away from the bustle of their Manhattan and Brooklyn roosts.

  1. 27-24 Jackson Ave, (at Dutch Kills St)
More info

The Brooklyn Star

When to go: Mon–Fri 4–6pm
Drink this: Southern comfort is the draw at this Williamsburg spot, and beer and brown spirits take center stage. But the wine list is a surprise hit too, with a few intriguing domestic selections from the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest. Three reds, three whites and a sparkling wine are half off during happy hour; sample the juicy Ponzi pinot gris ($4.50) from Oregon, redolent of honeysuckle and grapefruit, or the crisp Blanc de Noirs Gruet ($4.50) from Albuquerque with its tart, lemony finish.
Eat this: Though there are no happy-hour grub deals, at $4, chef Joaquin Baca’s wooden bowl of freshly baked, warm buttermilk biscuits is a steal anytime of the day. There’s also an excellent $9 mac and cheese that’s gooey and flecked with bacon.
The scene: With its huge portions of filling foods—meat-loaf sandwiches, T-bone steaks, jalapeño corn bread—it makes sense to warm up during happy hour, then stick around for a languid, sleepy-making meal. You’ll see plenty of patrons doing just that.

  1. 593 Lorimer St, (at Conselyea St), 1211
More info


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