Hot Summer Nights Get Cooler at Area 31's Happy Hour

The Place: Area 31
270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami

The Hours: Thursday 6-9 p.m.

The Deals: $5 cocktails. $5 light bites menu. Oh yeah, ladies drink free. Holla!

The Scene: The prospect of an outdoor happy hour in Miami sounds good, until you realize that temperatures stay in the high 80's, low 90's until well past 8 p.m. during the summer. After all, there's only so much refreshment a cocktail can provide. But if you get high enough (in the air, we mean), then the breeze kicks in. And when you're on the coast, well, it's just that much cooler, literally and figuratively.

That's why Miami's version of the bridge and tunnel crowd IS now counting Area 31 restaurant's Hot Summer Nights happy hour on its 16 floor terrace of the EPIC Hotel as among this year's hippest. Where else can you get the best aerial view of Brickell Ave., sip a libation on a comfy deep brown wicker couch, and hear a local DJ spin some age-appropriate sounds.

And proprietors are doing their part to make sure you don't have to fling your wallet over the balcony just to enjoy the scenery. A $5 cocktail list is replete with exotic fruit concoctions including acai, pomegranate and passion fruit, while the same price goes for a "light bites" menu. The "Pepperita," a margarita infused with chilis and passion fruit and the smoked kingfish (keep oil puns to yourself) croquettes are our favorites.

The coup de grace of this particular happy hour is that ladies drink free. So you can expect crowds of them, and the accompanying horn dogs.

Conclusion: Location, location, location is the annoying war call of real estate professionals but it might as well do for happy hours. Good luck finding a better location than Area 31's terrace lounge; and this place offers the right price for drinks and appetizers, so it's hard to argue against throwing down $10 bucks (with validation) for valet parking at the EPIC.

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