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Originally published Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Happy Hours that raise the bar

Around 4 p.m., happy hour's temptation is in full effect. We eye the clock and consider how early we can sneak away from work. In the name of...

Seattle Times staff reporter


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Around 4 p.m., happy hour's temptation is in full effect. We eye the clock and consider how early we can sneak away from work.

In the name of research, we ditched our cubicle to find even more fabulous and quirky excuses for edging out the back door. We mostly skipped old reliables in Belltown and downtown and scouted for new favorites with fantastic food deals, cheap cocktails and whimsical lures like retro games.

We noticed some restaurants enable an early end to the day with happy hours that start at 3 p.m. (Don't you have some sort of "client meeting" to attend?)

We say let the enabling begin.

Best eternal summer

Agua Verde Cafe, 1303 N.E. Boat St., Seattle, 206-545-8570, www.aguaverde.com.

When it makes us happy: 4-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, discounted appetizers, $2.50 bottled beer, $4 24-oz. Tecate cans.

A little summer oasis: Whether it's a brilliant summer day on the deck and the kayaks for rent are calling, or it's deep into winter and you're desperate for a sign of summer, Agua Verde keeps hope alive with its happy hour.

Munch on salmon tostadas with black-bean dip ($4.95), or revel in the sunshiny bits of mango in the mangodillas ($3.50). It's easy to wash down with a prickly pear Tuna-rita ($4.50) or a Margarita Lima ($4.50).

Best place to sink a battleship

Bottleneck Lounge, 2328 E. Madison St., Seattle, 206-323-1098, www.bottlenecklounge.com

When it makes us happy: 4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 4-8 p.m. Saturday, all day Sunday with $1.75 Pabst Blue Ribbon, $1 off specialty cocktails, Bloody Mary and grilled-cheese $10 combo on Sunday.

You sank my aircraft carrier!: This lounge is known for its Hair of the Dog cocktail menu (submit your pooch for posterity), but we like Bottleneck for Sunday game night, which includes Battleship wars. Miss. Miss. Miss. Hit!

The lounge also offers pint-size Bloody Marys and grilled cheese for $10 that day. Drink enough, and the Bloody Mary might resemble a glass of V-8 and make the childhood flashback complete.

Best affordable glam

Barolo, 1940 Westlake Ave., Seattle, 206-770-9000, www.baroloseattle.com.

When it makes us happy: 3-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 p.m.-close daily, half-off bar menu, $3.50 glass of wine, $3 pints, $14 bottle of wine.

I'll have a bottle, please: This glitzy restaurant doesn't qualify as funky unless you count baby octopus ($6), but it has perfected the balance of interesting eats and affordable drinks.

Barolo's rotating bar menu may offer seared scallops with a wild mushroom sauce ($8), an organic buffalo burger ($5) and our personal favorite, one pound of sautéed mussels ($5.50). Stellar drink deals include the tough-to-beat $14 bottle of wine.

Best place to practice Scandinavian pickup lines

Copper Gate, 6301 24th Ave. N.W., Seattle, 206-706-3292.

When it makes us happy: 5-7 p.m. daily with $3 off appetizers, $1 off Aquavit, $2 off cocktails.

Fiske-wha?: You practically need an interpreter for the bar menu at this Ballard newcomer. Sit at the ship-shaped copper bar and sip a shot of Aquavit, a Scandinavian distilled liquor, or tilt back a Fjellbek cocktail ($5) along with your delicious Grillspud (coriander and honey pork skewers, $6) and Fiskekaker (fish cakes, $4).

Be sure to pay homage to the original Copper Gate, a nude relief on the wall of the original owner's redheaded wife. Skal!

Best raw deal

Elliott's Oyster House, 1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56, Seattle, 206-623-4340, www.elliottsoysterhouse.com. Currently closed for renovations, expected to reopen Feb. 10.

When it makes us happy: 3-6 p.m., Monday-Friday, discounted appetizers, $5 margaritas, $3 martinis, $4 glass of wine, progressive oyster happy hour.

It adds up in your favor: The happy hour at this seafood haven includes salmon sliders ($4), fish tacos ($3) and a cup of oyster stew ($4). But the real reason to head to the waterfront is the progressive oyster deal.

During happy hour, the chef's choice on oysters starts at 50 cents each at 3 p.m. That's $6 for a dozen oysters vs. the regular starting price of $27. The price increases 20 cents every half-hour, so by 3:30 p.m., the price is $8.40, and so on. A dozen ain't nearly enough.

Best place for vegetarian gamers

Georgetown Liquor Company, 5501-B Airport Way S., Seattle, 206-763-6764, www.georgetownliquorcompany.com.

When it makes us happy: 4-7 p.m., Monday-Friday, with $1 off appetizers, well cocktails $2.50, Pabst Blue Ribbon $1.50, $6 specialty cocktails, $3 microdrafts.

It's called a joystick: The menu is so friendly to noncarnivores, it singles out items that aren't vegan. Happy hour is made up of tasty bites like crispy-baked polenta with melty Gouda and an apple chutney ($7) and roasted root veggies ($7), accompanied by cocktails like Mike's Pirate Grog ($6) and Danger Zone ($6).

But gamers might not be able to see past the Atari 2600, Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo by the door. Insert Atari's Human Cannonball, remember how to wrestle with Atari's joystick and watch your digital man crash.

Best pretend Peruvian vacation

Mixtura, 148 Lake St. S., Kirkland, 425-803-3310, www.mixtura.biz.

When it makes us happy: 4-6:30 p.m., 9 p.m.-closing daily, $3.50 menu, $3 beer, $4 wine, $5 cocktails, $3.50 well drinks.

The Andes are closer than you think: Foodies head to Mixtura to treat themselves to novo-Andean cuisine, but happy-hour hoppers are the smart ones in our book. They sample the Latin cuisine for $3.50 a pop at the stylish bar.

Load up on empanadas stuffed with ground beef, hard-boiled eggs and Peruvian olives, fire-roasted beef heart with fried yucca and chicken-salad sandwich with avocado. Top it off with a mango mojito or a pomegranate lemon drop.

Best place to get schnitzel-faced

People's Pub, 5429 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle, 206-783-6521, www.peoplespub.com.

When it makes us happy: 3-7 p.m. daily, discounted appetizers, $3 well drinks and most draft beer, $3 glass of wine.

Get your brats here: Head to the cozy bar at the back of this Ballard restaurant, pick from a selection of board games and play while dining on crispy pork croquettes with a light sour cream apple sauce ($5), grilled bockwurst ($5) or deep-fried pickles ($4).

People's Pub also boasts numerous happy-hour drink specials, but we prefer Saturday's $2.50 shots of Jagermeister, schnapps and Goldschlager. Gold flakes included.

Best place to spot an indie rock star

Redwood, 514 E. Howell St., Seattle, 206-329-1952.

When it makes us happy: 4-6 p.m., 11 p.m.-12:30 a.m., Monday-Saturday and all day Sunday with food and drink specials, $3 well drinks, $1.50 Olympia beer.

Try not to stare: This divey joint with the chalkboard menu is tucked a couple blocks off main Capitol Hill thoroughfares, where it has established itself as a mainstay among hipsters. Its bona fides include co-owner Mat Brooke, formerly of Band of Horses and now of Grand Archives.

We like it for the meatloaf and pulled-pork sliders (two for $5), served on a soft grilled bun, and the bourbon sweet tea ($4). Or take a run at the bacon, apple and bleu cheese fries ($4) and the chili-smothered drunken cornbread ($4). Stalking requires sustenance.

Best free ride

Roxy's Diner, 462 N. 36th St., Seattle, 206-632-3963, www.pastramisandwich.com.

When it makes us happy: 4-6 p.m. daily with half-priced appetizers, all day $3 well drinks, $2 mimosas and Bloody Marys.

Eat brunch at night: Roxy's woos us on the weekends with cheese blintzes, fluffy matzo ball soup and meaty corned-beef sandwiches, but this Jewish-style deli also flaunts a full bar. Happy-hour hounds can warm up for a Fremont bar crawl with classics-turned-crispy like the Reuben spring roll ($3.13) and fried potato-and-onion pierogies ($3.13).

The best deal comes for those who ride: Bike to happy hour and get a free appetizer. Don't forget your helmet!

Best place to comfort me with cocktails

West 5, 4539 California Ave., S.W., Seattle, 206-935-1966, www.westfive.com.

When it makes us happy: 4-6 p.m. daily with $4-$6 appetizers, $4 rotating signature cocktail, $2.50 Manny's Pale Ale, $4 wine by the glass.

Go for the green: West 5 reassures us that retro can mean classy rather than kitsch. The soothing vibe is perfect for downing signature cocktails like the Coffee Nudge (brandy, Kahlua and chocolate liqueur) and the West 5 Mai Tai.

But West 5's true love is Green Chartreuse, an herbal liqueur made in France from 130 plants and flowers. If you're lucky, the Chartreuse martini will be on special so you can savor its woodsy scent and leave your cubicle behind.

Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or ntsong@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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