Miami's top happy hours

Miami's top happy hours

From about 4 to 7 p.m., when the rest of the world transitions from work to home, Miami comes alive with the promise of cheap booze, cheaper conversation, and tawdry romance. Even before nightlife swings, our bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and lounges pour their liquid goodness down our parched throats.

No matter what you wear or what you clear in a year, there's a happy hour for you in this town. At Burger & Beer Joint in Miami Beach, the bartenders will gargle your shot of Jameson before you imbibe. The bathrooms at Balans in Mary Brickell Village have clear glass partitions, which can be tricky if you have to go number two.

There's a lot you should know about happy hours in this town. But mostly, you need to know which one is right for you. To that end, we present our list of the 50 coolest happy hours in Miami. Consider this your happy-hour cheat sheet. Read up before you drink up.

All About the Beer

Cocktails might be the happy-hour drinks of record, but beer is booze stripped of pretense. These bars are best known for their selection and, in some cases, their house-made brews.

Democratic Republic of Beer, 255 NE 14th St., Miami; 305-372-4161; One minute you'll be drinking a German Köstritzer in the empty Democratic Republic of Beer — lovingly known as DRB — and five minutes later, three groups of five ladies will appear to take up about every bar seat, couch, and table. For a place that specializes in beer, there sure are a lot of hot women who show up for this happy hour. The tight digs and stylish interior (props for the tastefully done mirrors on the ceiling) only add to the allure. Juxtapose these feminine attributes with 400 varieties of brewski and you have some pretty good conversation. Worried the DRB might be going soft? Take note. Its happy-hour special features 16 six-pack varieties (with six unique beers in each) at any one time. Some are great deals as cheap as the $15 "Po Boy" (including Pabst Blue Ribbon). Then there's the "Macdaddy Six Pack of All Six Packs" (we'd mention the names, but they would be lost on most of us) for $65, which we are told is actually a good deal. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7:30 p.m. Special six-pack beer menu varies.

The Yard House, 320 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables; 305-447-9273; Think of a bank drive-thru lane, except when it comes time to put in a canister with your deposit slip, you throw in a huge beer goblet. Then you receive copious amounts of alcoholic goodness from around the world. That's the Yard House. Its oversize bar is encircled by 130 taps, which are connected to a sleek metal tube running overhead. It can take you all night just to fill out a withdrawal slip for a brew. There are ales, stouts, porters, fruit lambics, lagers, bitters, and even draft beer floats. There are almost as many menu items (109) as beers, with happy-hour specials on four different sliders for $6, as well as half-price pizzas and appetizers. The place is devoted to classic rock (it's actually part of the tag line: "Great Food. Classic Rock."). It plays Zeppelin and Rush loud, so stay away if you aim to posit philosophical treatises on your close group of beatnik friends. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 3 to 6 p.m. Late-night happy hour: Sunday through Wednesday 10 p.m. to closing. Domestic pints $3.50, imports $4.25, goblets $4.75, and well drinks $4.25. Sliders $6.75 and half off select pizzas and appetizers.

Town Kitchen & Bar, 7301 SW 57th Ct., South Miami, 305-740-8118; Think Sex and the Small City, and you have Town, South Miami's happy hour for the professional adult who's not quite ready to settle into middle age. Carrie Bradshaw and the gang would especially like Thursday nights, when ladies get free champagne and the bar crowds go about three deep. The sleek postindustrial décor with exposed concrete and metallic tubes lends an air of sophistication matched by the menu, which includes a page of single-malt Scotches, artisanal cheese plates, and lobster quesadillas. Town brings the uppity down a bit with its wide selection of large-format beers (about equal to three regular-size drafts). Once a month, beermeister Jeff Ambler has a special tasting of brews he discovers. Happy hour: Daily 4 to 7 p.m. Half off everything, including bottle wines up to $200. Ladies get free champagne Thursday 4 to 7 p.m.

Titanic Restaurant & Brewery, 5813 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, 305-668-1742; Management says only about 30 percent of Titanic’s patrons come from the University of Miami although the microbrewery is only about half a block from campus. It makes sense considering your average undergrad hasn’t developed the beer palate to appreciate what goes on here. Titanic delivers some of the best ales, stouts, and bitters in town; a dozen or so house beers are always on tap. There’s White Star India Pale Ale — the Yank version of an English classic — and the Triple Screw Light Ale — a rich man’s version of a light beer sold for $2 Monday and Wednesday. The chef is Mississippi-born, which explains some of the better food offerings, including shrimp, grits, and jambalaya. Things really get cooking on $6 burger night. Happy hour: Daily 4 to 8 p.m. Slight discounts on all house brews.

Gordon Biersch, 1201 Brickell Ave., Miami; 786-425-1130; The minute you walk in, it’s impossible to miss what this place is all about: beer. Behind a glass enclosure stand the on-site brewery’s sleek metal silos. They’re more than just eye candy. Brewmaster Luke Erdody consistently wins medals for his creations. The tanks and oversize 16.9-ounce glasses make choosing a draft intimidating, so try the beer sampler, which features five brews and more than 20 ounces for only $5. The crowd includes many new denizens of the Brickell residential towers, who also enjoy the late-night happy hour from 10 p.m. to closing. For eats, try to the beer and garlic fries or the Southwest chicken egg roll. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 6:30 p.m. One dollar off all house lagers, $2 off wines by the glass, and $5 cocktails. Select appetizers $5 to $7. Late-night happy hour: daily 10 p.m. to closing.

Divers Down

The only things swimming in these dive bars are olives. Once denigrated, these joints have become à la mode in recent years. Maybe somebody forgot to tell the proprietors and patrons they graduated to the ranks of the cool.

Fox's Sherron Inn, 6030 S. Dixie Hwy., South Miami; 305-666-2230. A couple of years ago, Ray Liotta walked into Fox's Sherron Inn, peered from beneath a hat, and said barely loud enough for anybody to hear: "This place never changes." The next night, Liotta returned with his family to enjoy the darkest bar in Miami-Dade. The place has been beckoning privacy seekers since 1946. Its stratospheric cool quotient is boosted by a couple of late-night happy hours: a Smiths' appreciation night and an art battle, each held once a month. Then there's the regular 4-to-7 p.m. offering. But some things really never change. Fox's still has the deepest blood-red-cushioned booths in all of bar-dom and the stiffest drinks this side of a moonshine bathtub. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. Late-night happy hour: Tuesday and Saturday 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Two-for-one drinks.

The Abbey Brewing Co., 1115 16th St., Miami Beach; 305-538-8110; Don't let the innocuous storefront (with a sign that simply reads, "Bar"); the ominous, dark wooden decorations; or even the monastic theme throw you. This is a happy hour for the best-natured among us. Immaculate India Pale Ale and Brother Aaron's Quadruple are the beers of choice in this neighborhood hangout that's been around since 1995. You know a place has soul when there's a large mural next to the restrooms, which are accessible through saloon doors. (The place is currently closed for building repair but is slated to reopen this month.) Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. Four-buck house beers.

Purdy Lounge, 1811 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach; 305-531-4622; It's almost ten years old, but this Beach bar is like that friend who never grows up. The happy hour is unpretentious and pleasant . Drop by and you'll get to appreciate the funky finger chairs, eclectic artwork, and other weird things hanging from the walls. Plus you can hear Jason Lee-look-alike bartender Haran Cantor wax about the things he's seen at Purdy — everything from Owen Wilson groping to Ty Pennington thieving. Happy Hour: Monday through Friday 3 to 7 p.m. Two-for-one.

Tobacco Road, 626 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-374-1198, The oldest bar in Miami (98 years and counting) offers the best deals in downtown. For happy hour, there’s a special appetizer list that includes small orders of ribs, chicken nachos, potato skins, and wings for only $2.75 each. Cocktails and beer go for 98 cents on Fridays (in homage to its age). The Road is known for live music (take a gander at the walls to see who has performed there) and now features an in-house DJ. There are plenty of secluded spots, but head to the patio for happy hour. And yeah, this place was part of Al Capone’s bar-hopping back in the day. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. Three-buck domestic beers, $3.50 imports, $5 well drinks, and $2.75 appetizer menu.

The Bar, 172 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables, 305-442-2730; This no-frills joint with a no-frills name delivers. It's where the professionals go to let loose, get in fights, or have "special meetings" in the bathroom with the opposite sex. But it's more than that. This bar, in one incarnation or another, has been open since 1946, and you can feel an aura of history. A stained-glass homage to one of its former names, the Hofbräu, is even perched over a door. There's a good selection of brews and underrated bar food. A relatively small interior is supplemented with bar tables out front and a larger seating area in the back alley. It's the only alley hangout in all of the Gables. Happy hour: Monday through Thursday 4 to 8 p.m. Two-for-one well drinks, $1 off drafts, $2 off pitchers, free well drinks, and Yeungling drafts for ladies Fridays 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The Sporting Life

What is more American than the sports bar? That's right. Nothing! But this grouping gives you a little more than wings and nachos, though these spots know how to do them right.

The Sports Exchange, 45 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-774-1222; Sometimes happy hour coincides with a huge sporting event: the NCAA Basketball tourney, the World Cup, the World's Strongest Man Competition. And when that happens, you need somewhere to watch the game on a giant screen with the volume turned up loud. Enter the Sports Exchange on Miracle Mile. The big TV set is called "the Shrine" and resides behind the 50-foot bar. It's a 25-by-eight-foot, high-definition projection screen surrounded by eight 58-inch, high-definition plasma TV sets. Or you could cozy up to any of the other 24 large-screens throughout the restaurant. As for the volume, ask for a sound box and they'll bring you the modern-day equivalent of a drive-in microphone that plays the audio from any set you choose. Happy Hour: Monday through Friday 5 to 8 p.m. Two-for-one specials, $5 well, $3 domestic, and $3 house wine drink specials, as well as half-price appetizers and $5 pizza specials. Late-night happy hour: Monday through Friday 11 p.m. to closing.

Duffy's Tavern, 2108 Red Rd., Miami, 305-264-6580. "Where the Elite Meet to Eat" is Duffy's catch phrase. This might seem odd considering the thousands of empty beer bottles and mugs hanging like cave bats from the ceiling. Before you chuckle, though, look at the frames on the wall. You'd be hard-pressed to find likenesses of as many celebrities, athletes, and political heavyweights (former Prez Clinton says hey!) anyplace in Miami. That's the thing about old Irish sports bars: Everybody likes to hang out in them. And Duffy's opened in the 1930s, so it has withstood the test of time. Happy hour Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. Late-night happy hour: 11 p.m. to close. Two-for-one drinks.

Hurricane Bar & Grill, 365 N. Royal Poinciana Blvd., Miami Springs; 305-884-5077. You can live your entire life in Miami and never go to Miami Springs, a sleepy town just north of Miami International Airport. And mostly that would be all right, except you'd miss out on this establishment in an anonymous group of storefronts on a nothing street. Step through the foyer and you realize you're in the Cheers of this small burg. Despite its location, it has attracted an impressive group of high-profile visitors from throughout Miami-Dade and the world. Pilots on break come in droves, as do former Miami Dolphins such as Don Strock and George Roberts. The place is a University of Miami Hurricanes stronghold. Former UM great George Mira even delivers his conch fritters to the joint, which you can get half off, along with the rest of the appetizers, during happy hour. The drink and meal happy hour specials are swell, but the real deal is the 16- to 18-ounce New York strip steak with a baked potato, salad, and garlic bread for $20. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. One dollar off everything from the bar and half off appetizers.

Highfalutin and Upper-Crust

Call it coincidence, but the most exclusive happy hours in Miami are either well above sea level or on the water itself. Do the cocktails taste better at a higher altitude or with sea salt wafting in the air? After visiting these stylish locales, we'd say so.

Club 50 at Viceroy, 485 Brickell Ave., Miami; 305 503-4400, ext. 7138; Regulars don't turn up their noses to the less fortunate here. It's 50 floors up on the penthouse of the Viceroy Hotel, with the best view of the city, so there's no need. Not that Club 50 restricts access; it's just that the young, urban professionals who show up tend to rub elbows with A-list celebs who are in town for the Sony Ericsson Open, Art Basel, and other high-profile events. The interior of Club 50 is the work of designer Kelly Wearstler and combines marble and wood with Asian-inspired prints. Happy hour: Thursday through Sunday 5 to 9 p.m. Deals vary by day (for instance, "Time Will Tell" Fridays feature prices that rise every hour from 5 to 9 p.m.).

Area 31, Epic Hotel, 270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami; 305-424-5234; The prospect of an outdoor happy hour in Miami sounds good until you realize that summertime temperatures can stay in the high 80s/low 90s well past 8 p.m. But that's at sea level. Sixteen floors up, the breeze kicks in, and Area 31's happy hour kicks ass. Miami's version of the bridge-and-tunnel crowd shows up for the best aerial view of Brickell Avenue while they sip libations on comfy deep-brown wicker couches. A $5 cocktail list is replete with exotic fruit concoctions including açaí, pomegranate, and passion fruit, while the same price goes for a "light bites" menu. Two must-tries: the "pepperita," a margarita infused with chilis and passion fruit and served with smoked kingfish croquettes. Did we mention ladies drink free? Happy hour: Thursday 6 to 9 p.m. Five-buck cocktails, $5 light bites menu. Ladies drink free.

The Webster, 1220 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-7899; Unless you are a jet-setter, chances are you don’t frequent the ritzy, recently renovated (to the tune of $20 million) boutique hotel — which is actually a three-floor shopping experience. Brave the terminally slow elevator ride up for the “Escape to the Webster” Thursday-night rooftop happy hour. It’s so worth it. Enjoy a breathtaking view of Collins Avenue and South Beach, rub elbows with some of the Beach’s elite — or interlopers like yourself — and hear the DJs spin some tunes. Oh yeah, and the cocktails are, it almost goes without saying, primo. Happy hour: Thursday 7 to 9 p.m. Two-for-one drinks.

Sunset Lounge at Mondrian, 1100 West Ave., Miami Beach; 305-514-1500; They take their cocktails seriously at the Sunset Lounge. How seriously? Try $2,500 spent on fresh fruit per week. Cocktails developed for the Thursday and Friday happy hours include the “pisco dusk sour,” with fresh crushed blackberries, cardamom pods, and egg whites for a frothy treat. Usual drink prices are halved in what they call “Crazy 8’s”: Five special cocktails and a limited menu of apps cost only $8. Maybe more important, the usual $25 valet parking fee is a cool eight bucks. Happy hour: Thursday and Friday 6 to 9 p.m. “Innovated Classics” cocktail list is $8, select appetizers $8, and valet parking $8.

The Standard, 40 Island Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-1717; The Standard Hotel, that bastion of cool on the Intracoastal Waterway, calls its version of happy hour "Sunset Service." Sure, the name is a little snobbish, but consider the view of the sunset from the Bayside Grill. This island getaway off the Venetian Causeway is the smart place to decompress after work. Even walking through the gardens to the grill is relaxing. And there's more than the usual happy-hour specials. You can partake of a special three-course meal from executive chef Mark Zeitouni plus a glass of wine for a cool $35. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 5 to 8 p.m. Two-for-one cocktails, beer, and, wine and a $35 prix fixe menu.

Neighborhood Joints

When you're into decompressing and nursing your drink more than looking good or plotting your next stop, these are the bars for you.

Perricone's Marketplace & Café, 15 SE 10th St., Miami, 305-374.9449; Owner Steven Perricone likens his namesake restaurant to a “tropical oasis in the heart of downtown Miami.” With a veritable forest surrounding the eatery, which is made almost entirely of a disassembled Vermont barn, it’s a refreshing break from the concrete canyons in Miami’s financial district. And with happy-hour specials such as “the 20/20” (20 percent of the entire check for 20 weeks in the summer) and half-price drinks, there is sure to be little disagreement anywhere in the cozy front bar of the popular restaurant. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. Half-price drinks. Ladies get three complimentary drinks with purchase of entrée Wednesday nights until 11 p.m.

Taurus (Another Round), 3540 Main Hwy., Miami; 305-441-0219; For most of its 85-year history, the Taurus was a ramshackle bar for the dregs of Coconut Grove. Change came slowly, but several years ago, owners developed a high-end restaurant (Calamari) and wine bar (La Bottega) while the bar was closed. The new and improved version opened last year. There's still a casual vibe, but now it's "proper casual," which is another way of saying college kids should stick to the spots farther up Main Highway. Management likes to say it has the best mojitos in the area, and the Taurus Burger (U.S. Prime beef marinated for three days) is widely recognized as the tastiest patty in the neighborhood. There's also an underrated beer list with 30 selections and more than eight on tap. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. Two-for-one on everything except premium liquor.

The Playwright Irish Pub & Restaurant, 1265 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-534-0667; The Playwright and nearby Waxy O'Connor's have long been locked in a good old-fashioned Irish grudge match. Both are good, but we like the Playwright for its stained glass and dark wood décor, including a bar that makes you feel as if you were back in Dublin. Of course, they serve Guinness, Murphy's Ale, Bass, and Harp, all of which are two-for-one during happy hour, along with beef stew (Guinness-infused, no surprise) and corned beef and cabbage. Appetizers, including the most popular and decidedly un-Irish chicken spring rolls, are half off during happy hour. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. Two-for-one beer, cocktail, and wine specials and half off appetizers.

John Martin's Irish Pub & Restaurant, 253 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-445-3777; Owner Martin Lynch runs his bar like any good Irishman. Bottles are all on display behind the long mahogany bar. Happy-hour select drafts are served in 20-ounce glasses. The after-work crowd is a good mix of Gables-ites: young professionals, older regulars, and movers and shakers. Open for more than two decades, it's more than a watering hole. The restaurant is heavy on the colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage) but is surprisingly varied. Even so, we suggest the shepherd's pie, corned beef and cabbage, beef and Guinness stew, or Irish potato soup while you feed the creature (in Irish-speak, that means while you drink). Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 8 p.m. Half off all house wines, liquor, and 20-ounce imported drafts.

Salt Life

Say what you will, but a real Miami happy hour should pair cold drinks with fish dip. Enjoy the menu before BP's legacy taints the catch.

Scotty's Landing, 3381 Pan American Dr., Miami; 305-854-2626; Scotty’s Landing on the waterfront in Coconut Grove does not have a happy hour. But don’t worry — the drink prices best the happy-hour specials of most competitors. This is the old, pre-CocoWalk Grove. Don’t look for sliders, fruity drinks, or flat-screens. There are only a couple of TV sets, and their screens are only as wide as they are thick (we don’t advise sitting under them either). But don’t mistake price for quality when it comes time to stuff your face. The dolphin sandwich is tops, and there’s live music as well as celebrity and politician sightings (Miami City Hall is next door). Happy hour: none. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Monty's, 2550 S. Bayshore Dr., Miami; 305-856-3992; Try this place when the rain pours so you can squeeze tightly under one of the dozen or so tiki huts. It's easy to share the specials, including $3 stone crab claws and $1 apiece for shrimp, oysters, and clams. And you can speak intimately with your bar mate about the history, which includes many cocaine cowboys tying up their cigarette boats in the '80s. The original owner even did a stint in the slammer. These days, mostly college kids pack the place Thursdays and Fridays, but with outdoor seating for nearly 500, there's room for everybody. Live reggae and calypso music is played. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 8 p.m. Half off all cocktails; beer discounts; $3 stone crab claws; $1 apiece for shrimp, oysters, and clams from raw bar.

Black Point Ocean Grill, 24775 Galloway Rd., Homestead; 305-258-3918. Head south on Galloway Road and continue south until you just about drive into the ocean. You'll end up at the Ocean Grill at Black Point Marina, where you can get all the seafood and cold beer imaginable. Blackened dolphin tacos ($3.50) and mini shrimp quesadillas ($4) are the best of the happy-hour menu. The food is good and the drinks are cold, but the best thing about Ocean Grill is sitting dockside and watching the show put on by inebriated boaters. Some poor snapperhead never fails to crash his vessel into the dock. There's a lesson: First dock the boat and then get drunk. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. One dollar off all drinks; happy-hour food menu available 3 to 6 p.m.

Catch of the Day, 1050 Le Jeune Rd., Miami; 305-446-4500. This landlocked locale just south of Miami International Airport has been an institution for years. The Gulf oil disaster has curtailed the 50-cent-oyster happy-hour special, but you can still get 90-cent draft beers and two-for-one mojitos. Order a pitcher of Presidente and get free wings or Caribbean nachos. The outdoor area, which features live music, has ample seating. So what if the wind you're feeling is probably jet thrust or auto emissions instead of a coastal breeze? It's all good. Happy hour: Daily 3 to 7 p.m. Ninety-cent draft beers, $2.99 well drinks and wine by the glass, and half off mojitos and select cocktails. Select free appetizers with purchase of pitcher of Presidente beer.

Diversionary Tactics

Happy hour is often best enjoyed when you are doing something else besides drinking. Shooting pool, gawking at naked bodies, listening to good music. Hell, it could be anything!

Sharp Shooters, 7200 SW 117th Ave., Miami; 305-596-0588; Located on the second floor of an unassuming Kendall mall at the southwest corner of Sunset Drive and SW 117th Avenue, Sharp Shooters might have the best pool tables in town. Serious players will sign up for the five hours of pool for only $6 from noon to 5 p.m. But you don't have to shoot like Efren Reyes to enjoy the Gold Crown tables and Simonis cloth. Everyone will want to take advantage of the numerous happy-hour specials. From 5 to 8 p.m., it's half off cocktails, 12-ounce drafts, bottles, and pitchers of beer and wine. The pool is free when you purchase two happy-hour drinks. From 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, you get free Bud draft when playing pool. Finally, Thursday is ladies' night, with half off cocktails, 12-ounce drafts, bottles, and pitchers of beer and wine for the fairer sex. Happy hour: Daily 5 to 8 p.m. Half off drinks and free pool with two happy-hour drink purchases.

BT's Gentlemen's Club, 5922 S. Dixie Hwy., South Miami; 305-663-4567; “Sorry, honey. I was looking for the entrance to Deli Lane when all of a sudden I’m surrounded by a bunch of exotic dancers.” Really! It’s possible at this strip club nestled amid a series of restaurants and cafés in downtown South Miami. If it weren’t for that big metal door and small sign, this might well be a sub shop. But as it is, you can enjoy a Lolita lap dance with your Long Island iced tea on your way home without anybody being the wiser. BT’s is among the smaller adult nightclubs, meaning there are only five to ten dancers working the day shift, including happy hour. If you like mature (though still younger than 30) dancers from South America, saddle up, pardner. Happy hour: Monday through Saturday 3-8 p.m. Two-for-one drinks, and buckets of beer starting at five for $10. Sorry, no specials on lap dances or sex in the VIP room!

GreenStreet Outdoor Lounge and Restaurant, 3468 Main Hwy., Miami; 305-444-0244; Most people would be surprised to discover there is an interior to GreenStreet in Coconut Grove. Outdoors under the umbrellas or on a plush velvet couch, you can people-watch like nowhere else. GreenStreet mixes regulars with notable locals (celebs, athletes, and politicos) and even tourists. The menu is similarly eclectic and draws crowds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Happy-hour offerings, regular and late-night, are plentiful, with daily specials such as two-for-one mojitos on Tuesday and complimentary champagne for ladies 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday. Happy hour: Daily 5 to 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to closing. Daily specials along with $3.50 beers, $2 wine glasses, $4.50 well drinks, and $6 martinis.

Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; Parachutes no longer adorn the ceilings (insurance concerns). The jukebox is now digital (meaning Justin Bieber is as accessible as the Sex Pistols). And Americans even drop by to watch footie these days. Yeah, a lot has changed since Churchill's opened in the middle of Little Haiti in 1979. But it's still the city's best live-music venue. Happy hour (defined as anytime before 9 p.m.) is easy on your quid flow with a wide selection of drafts and bottled beers from the Old and New worlds. The food is surprisingly good and cheap — look for specials such as a full English breakfast (bacon, banger, beans, potato, two eggs, and toast) for $6 during live broadcasts of Premiere League soccer and international rugby matches. Happy hour: Daily before 9 p.m. A variety of discounts on drafts, pitchers, well drinks.

Sandbar Sports Grill, 3064 Grand Ave., Miami; 305-444-5270; The Sandbar will always be the heart of the Grove's Bermuda Triangle of college bars (with Tavern and Barracuda). It has regular happy-hour times and specials (half-price drinks and appetizers), but patrons rave about day-of-the-week specials such as 50 percent off tacos on Monday and half-price hurricane drink specials on Wednesday. There's not only surprisingly good Baja Southern California fare and authentic ramshackle interior design, but also a solid mix of college kids and working-class Grovites. Regulars are more than happy to describe bar-dancing, streaking, and even ass-shaving to underclassmen. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. Half-price drinks and appetizers and daily specials.

Meet Markets

If you're old enough to drink, you're old enough to make some really bad choices regarding your partner for the evening. These bars give you a heads-up on meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right, or at least Mr. or Mrs. Tonight!

Blue Martini, 900 S. Miami Rd., Miami; 305-981-2583; Like its signature drink, Blue Martini's happy hour is saturated with neon, a bit too sweet, and oversize. The place squeezes good food, drink deals, and loud music into every night of the week — much like its bartenders squeeze into their bustiers. Happy hour can get crowded, but there are three seating areas: the stage room, the outdoor bar, and the VIP room. The after-work specials are a great lead-in to the live music six nights a week. Perched on the second floor of Mary Brickell Village, it's also the number one people-watching spot in the Brickell area. What Blue Martini lacks in soul, it makes up for in superficial bliss. That's Miami, after all. Happy hour: Daily 4 to 8 p.m. Two-for-one cocktails, beer, and liquor (with a few exceptions). All food is half off.

Houston's, 201 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-529-0141; Hands down, this is the most popular after-work cocktail spot in the Gables and maybe all of Miami-Dade, at least in terms of crowds and ego. There are no happy-hour discounts or signature cocktails (though the usual suspects — margaritas, mojitos, and cosmos — are done right at the bar), but somehow this version of the national chain has captured the happy-hour Zeitgeist. The staff is friendly enough, the decorations sleek and clean, and the food and drink made fresh. Be sure to bring your A-game. Threads, wheels, and heels are important to this lot. Happy hour: No times or deals, but Wednesday and Friday are particularly jumping.

Vlada Lounge, 3215 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-381-5015; This midtown gay bar specializes in organic fruit-infused vodka. The 21 varieties are creepily or coolly (it could go either way) displayed behind the bar in oversize glass containers that look like they came from a mad scientist's lab. Their contents are mighty tasty, all-natural, and half off during happy hour. And there's a monthly girl party night. DJs spin some nights, and a revamped patio handles the crowds when the inside gets too cramped. Careful not to get your tongue (or other body parts) frozen on the ice bar (yes, it's actually frosted over), which is meant to keep your drinks cold. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4-8 p.m. Half off all organic fruit-infused vodkas and beers.

Tavern in the Grove, 3416 Main Hwy., Miami; 305-447-3884. College kids want to get plastered and laid, in that order. And that's why places such as the Tavern in the Grove have been around for decades. What it lacks in size and civility, it makes up for in forced bumping and grinding as you try to inch your way to the bar and your next frosty. To paraphrase Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused (which, by the way, everybody whose picture hangs on the back can quote verbatim): "That's what I love about these [college] girls. I get older, and they stay the same age." Yes, they do. Happy hour: Daily 3 to 8 p.m. Specials vary.

Tarpon Bend Food & Tackle, 65 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-3210; Tarpon Bend has one of the most popular and definitely longest happy hours on Miracle Mile — it begins early, at 3 p.m., and ends later than most, at 9. On Friday, it continues until 10. There's even a Saturday happy hour from 3 to 7. But there's quality to go with the quantity. The raw bar is appropriately placed at the bow (or front, for the nautically challenged) of the boat-shaped wooden bar. It's stocked with peel-and-eat shrimp, oysters, clams, and chilled seasonal seafood. Check the specials on the chalkboard and indulge in mojito madness all day Thursday for only $3.50. They are made with an assortment of fruit (blackberry, pineapple, and watermelon) that ordinarily would have no place near the traditional Cuban highball. Happy hour: Monday through Thursday 3 to 9 p.m., Friday 3 to 10 p.m., and Saturday 3 to 7 p.m. Two-for-one drinks.

Food for Thought

Sometimes the groaning in your stomach is more profound than the stress in your head. So here are places where you can eat your way back to sanity.

The Lost & Found Saloon, 185 NW 36th St., Miami; 305-576-1008; As far as we know, there's only one "Giddy Up Hour" among the hundreds of happy hours in Miami. That's at the Lost & Found Saloon. This Southwestern-style restaurant is barely big enough to support a bar and small dining room. The place is decorated in a Western/modern saloon style. There are only three draft brews on the menu, but they're spot-on when pleasing the palate. The Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar tastes as good as it sounds. Same for the wine menu. And the burritos are good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Lechón lovers should order the pulled-pork posse club burrito. Giddy Up Hour: Monday through Saturday 3 to 7 p.m., Sunday 3 to 10 p.m., with $3.50 beers, $5.50 wine by the glass, and $3 tacos.

Burger & Beer Joint, 1766 Bay Rd., Miami Beach; 305-672-3287; Where else can you sit back and enjoy a family meal of everything from a ten-pound "Mother Burger" to a patty made with foie gras? Sit in the front of the restaurant or, if you prefer, saunter to the backroom sports bar to find bras on the ceiling and all manner of other good-natured depravity. Of course, happy hour in the classic sense is no place for families, so stick to the sports bar, its blackboard walls, and long beer list. The regular happy hour is cool, but you definitely want to show up for the late-night happy hour, when strange and fun things happen, not the least of which is "Recycled Shots." That's where you pay the bartender to gargle your shot, Listerine-style, before spitting it into your glass and wishing you bottoms up. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 5 to 7 p.m. Late-night happy hour: Sunday through Thursday midnight to 2 a.m. Half-price drinks.

Ra Sushi, 5829 SW 73rd St., South Miami; 305-341-0092; Don't ask them to lower the volume at Ra Sushi. That's how Ra rolls. You'll know happy hour is beginning when red ceiling lights descend and the loud music gets even more ear-throbbing. It's mostly a college-age crowd; the student bodies come for half off select sushi and all manner of booze. The Sunday late-night happy hour is especially popular for those with no early Monday classes scheduled. Ra Sushi is a mainstay in any South Miami bar-hopping romp, but enough patrons stay put the whole night to make seating hard to find even outside on hot summer nights. Happy hour: Monday through Saturday 3 to 7 p.m. Late-night happy hour: Sunday 8 p.m. to close. Half off select sushi and appetizers. Specials on Kirin sake bombs ($6), wine and specialty drinks ($5), well drinks ($4), domestic beer ($3), and hot sake ($2).

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 2525 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-569-7995; Steak houses, especially ones with pricey menus such as Fleming’s, are not usually the place for good happy-hour deals. But this Gables steak house breaks ranks with its meat brethren during its “Five for Six Until Seven” special. It’s corny, we know, and you can still make fun of it if you’d like, but do so while you’re enjoying a selection of five specialty cocktails or wines, a similar number of appetizers, or Fleming’s Prime burger with cheese and bacon, all for six bucks until 7 p.m. And, in case you’re wondering, the portions are the same as those on the regular menu. Fleming’s also distinguishes itself from other steak houses via décor featuring softer wood tones. It’s meant to be more sophisticated and appealing to women, who in turn will bring more of those meathead men. More lady-pandering is found in the cocktail list, which features, among others, a 99-calorie “bikinitini” with three mini-marshmallows instead of olives. Man enough to try it? Happy hour: Monday through Friday 5 to 7 p.m. Five for Six Until Seven bar menu features cocktails, wine, and appetizers for $6 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Lounging Around

Need we say more, you lizard, you?

Fratelli Lyon, 4141 NE Second St., Miami; 305-572-2901; It's not hard to be stylish when your Italian restaurant and bar is located smack-dab in the middle of a furniture design showroom, in the Design District no less. Even so, what this place gets right is more substance over style. Fratelli Lyon believes in the slow-food movement, and that goes for happy hour as well. Artisanal cheeses and a mixed olive plate are Fratelli's version of wings and nachos. As you might expect, the wine selection is robust, but unlike at many upper-crust eateries, the portions here are ample. In fact, "wine by the glass" is actually served by "il quartino," which is 250ml (or one-third a bottle). During happy hour, you can sip — um, gulp — one for only $12. There are also specialized cocktails with exotic fruits and a short but eclectic beer list. Pull up a chair and get ready to talk about something besides sports — or just keep quiet if you don't want to come off like a mook. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. Discounts on beer, cocktails, and wine by il quartino.

Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita, 1000 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-403-3103; Some happy hours are out in the open. Others are hidden from the judgmental eyes of the public. But nary the two shall meet, except here. With more dining and imbibing areas than words in its name, this place offers outdoor, indoor, upstairs, and terrace spaces, plus a backroom for private happy-hour get-togethers. The international fusion menu and cocktails are tasty enough, but Lolita (the name of the downstairs area where happy-hour patrons congregate) makes our list because of the setting: a 1920s historic building that used to house a fire station. That explains the two interior metal poles that are often confused for stripper equipment. Even so, impromptu performances are not prohibited. Happy hour: Sunday through Wednesday 4 to 10 p.m., Thursday 4 to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 4 to 7 p.m. Daily special is half off liquor and beer only. Thursday is $3 Presidente bottles and $6 mojitos.

Mai Tardi, 163 NE 39th St., Miami; 305-572-1400; Got some time to kill before that gallery opens? Stroll to Mai Tardi. You'll never be late. In fact, that's management's whole philosophy: "A place where time is not of the essence." An Italian mosaic mural and 150-year-old white oak tree oversee the goings-on at the 4,000-square-foot terrace, which features a variety of seating options including wicker couches and chairs, pillowed benches, and stiff table chairs. There's a special happy-hour cocktail list that's heavy on the Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), as you might expect. Bottle beer and wines are also discounted. And with all happy-hour selections, you'll enjoy complimentary tapas or a chef's featured risotto dish. Live music or DJs on most nights. Happy hour: Monday through Friday 5 to 7:30 p.m. Four-dollar bottled beers, $5 glasses of wine, and $6 select cocktails. Free tapas.

Sawa Restaurant and Lounge, 360 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables; 305-447-6555; This place provides a fresh take on happy hour, from setting to cocktails and food. The Mediterranean fusion menu features sushi, kebabs, tapas, à la carte offerings, and a prix fixe special. Van Gogh flavored vodka even hooked up with Sawa to create 22 distinct martinis (try the Cuban colada, cherry on lychees, or Orangina). The lounge is adorned with three-dimensional installations from the artist Chady (3-D glasses come as part of the menu), including a colored-glass piece reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night that serves as the backdrop for the bar. Want more variety? How about partaking of the “hookah on steroids.” That’s where they fill the hookah with your favorite cocktail before you puff. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Happy hour: Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. and Sunday through Thursday 11 p.m. to closing. Flavored vodka drinks go for $5.50, with other cocktails, wine, and beer under $5.

Phone Happy

Technology has improved nearly every aspect of our lives, and now it's been applied to mankind's greatest venture: the search for cheap drinks. Village Voice Media — this paper's parent company — and have partnered to bring you Happy Hours, a smart-phone application for finding drink specials wherever you are and whenever you're looking.

Your phone tells the app your location, you specify special happy-hour needs, and — voila — you get a detailed list of every happy hour around, including what's cheap and when it ends. The list is sorted by distance from your location, and you can turn your phone sideways for a Google map of the nearest picks. Can't decide which one to try? Give the phone a good shake, and the app will randomly select a happy hour for you.

Almost 20,000 happy hours in dozens of cities are covered. The data comes from GoTime's extensive database as well as business owners and users. And in the 14 cities with Village Voice Media alt-weeklies, it's like a native guide: Recommendations from our editorial staff — the people who live and breathe the city's nightlife — are integrated into the app.

Native apps are available for the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry, but you can still get in on the fun even if you don't have a smart phone. Just point your phone's web browser to, and you can get the same info. And no matter what platform you use, it's all free — so you can save your money for that last half-price mojito or two-for-one beer special of the night. Cory Casciato

Democratic Republic of Beer
Democratic Republic of Beer
C. Stiles


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