There's a reason it's called happy hour.
Sure, you could hit the gym, run some errands, or hey, even make yourself a nice home-cooked meal, but let's be honest, you don't actually want to do any of that. Everyone knows, postwork drinks are the best way to wind down from the workday.
The only problem: Drinking is freaking expensive. And all those stress-relieving cocktails can put a serious strain on the budget.
That's where happy hour comes into play. Cheap drinks, inexpensive munchies, and a few hours of pure rest and relaxation are sure to solve even the most tension-filled day.
There is, however, one catch -- you don't want to get involved with drinking and driving. So, it's best to keep the festivities local.
So, for all you Fort Lauderdale workers and dwellers, here are the ten best happy hours in the city.
If you like balls and heavy booze, this place is for you. Every Thursday, starting at 5:30 p.m. this aviation inspired Italian joint offers up a deal that is hard to beat. It's called Meatballs and Martinis. For six bucks a piece, sip on rocket-fuel strength straight up drinks while sampling vodka tastings and noshing on complimentary meatballs (turkey and rice balls included for the flexitarians and vegos).
When you work on the same routine, day in and day out, it's nice to find a bit of spontaneity. Hey, they say, "Variety is the spice of life." This place likes to change it up. Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., the gastropub features a rotating assortment of daily blackboard specials for just five bucks. You never know what you're going to get, but there is always one craft beer, one draft beer, one specialty cocktail, one martini, one wine, one shot, and one app. Consider it the drinking version of Russian roulette.
8. Bull Market
It's a simple concept, supply and demand. When demand increases, supply drops, leading to an increase in cost. Fortunately, it goes both ways. This downtown bar follows that premise, which makes it an ideal happy hour spot for those looking to stash away their cash. From 4 to 7 p.m., seven days a week, it offers two-for-one drinks on everything behind the bar (sans bottles of wine). While that's a pretty sweet deal regardless, it can get even better depending on the "market" -- it counts even when the prices on a given drink go down.
We all work way too much, with too few vacation days. For a complete vintage-island-get-away, head to Mai-Kai. With the same decor for the past half-decade, this place is like it's own little world on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale (it's technically in Oakland Park). And it features a happy hour that'll surely ease all of your stress and workweek pain. From 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, in the Molokai lounge, it offers half-off all apps and the majority of its 51 specialty drinks (minus bottles of wine, champagne, sidewinders fang, and the mystery drink). Hump day, however, is the best day to go; from 5 to 9 p.m., it offers a free buffet with purchase of a drink and at 6 p.m. Ty Olopai plays his ukulele in the bar area.
After sitting under fluorescent lights all day long, it's not to give your eyes a break. Dark, dinghy, and totally unpretentious could be the perfect way to end the day. If that's the case, come to this place. From 5 to 10 p.m. everyday of the week, the bar offers "family" pricing on it's massive selection of beer -- it has the largest rotation of craft brews downtown -- and the entire bar. A heavy-handed well drink will only set you back about four bucks. Plus, there's a wide selection of potato chips to soak it all up.
Fort Lauderdale Beach may be home of fishbowl-sized margaritas topped with Corona -- that's disgusting, by the way -- but over the year's it's matured from full-on frat house to a blend of sophistication and down and dirty. Hey, we like options. For those looking to class it up while getting intoxicated, come to this place. The bar offers $7 drinks and wine, many of which are interesting Greek varietals, as well as complimentary appetizers from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday..
4. Tarpon Bend
This downtown bar has been leading the way with happy hour in the Himmarshee area for over a decade. Starting at 4 p.m. everyday, (Sunday through Thursday it ends at 7 p.m., Friday until 10 p.m., and Saturday at 9 p.m.) the bar offers two-for-one drinks. But that's not all. There are other deals most days of the week. On Mondays, it's $5 burgers starting at 5 p.m.Tuesdays it's $2 craft and draft beers. And on Thursdays, ladies can keep partying through the night, with free drinks and half-priced entrees starting at 8 p.m. There's a reason this place has been filled with suits every night of the week for nearly 15 years -- it offers serious relaxation on the cheap.
3. Market 17
The first word that comes to mind when you see the term farm-to-table is costly -- hey, top notch ingredients come with mile high price-tags. Not to worry, that's why happy hour is a thing. Every day from 4:30 to 7 p.m., Market 17 offers food and beverage consumers a chance to sample executive chef Lauren DeShields creatively prepared, sustainable fare at a massively discounted rate. The deal includes 50 percent off all appetizers, drinks, and glasses of beer and wine at the bar.
Las Olas may be an expensive strip that caters to tourists looking to throw down some cash. But the boulevard certainly does have a few gems. With warm, comforting interior, good food, and nice drinks Big City Tavern is definitely one. Plus, it offers a damned good happy our everyday of the week. From 4 to 7 p.m., the bar offers half-priced appetizers, $8 select martinis, and $1 off all drinks. For the winos, it offers grape-centric specials on Wednesdays; all bottles under $99 are half-priced for the evening.
Frequently touted as the best restaurant in Broward County, this place is not known for being budget-friendly. A meal here can easily set you back $100 per person. Fortunately, happy hour is a thing. Every Thursday and Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the bar offers guests a chance to get in and out without spending a small fortune. For $25, it offers an unlimited top shelf happy hour -- yes, even with signature drinks -- as well as free passed appetizers. (Hint: Try the old-fashioned.) Hey, you may have champagne taste on a beer budget, but two days a week, it actually goes the other way.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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