Happy Hour Week

Despite being a bargain hunter and cocktalian (not just a person who likes booze, but well-made drinks), I don’t go that often to happy hour. My coworkers aren’t always so keen and it’s a chore to get them to stay for a drink and nosh after work. I still have yet to go to happy hour alone but the last couple of years, I’ve managed to develop a network of people who adore cheap drinks and bar food. And lately, I’ve been enjoying the upscale drinks and food for a non-upscale price.

This week, I went to 3 happy hours all within a couple blocks in the financial district of Downtown Los Angeles.

First up, I hit up Drago Centro on Monday where they recently changed their all-day happy hour menu. A couple of my favorite drinks, the l’era blu and the passione (lychee martini-like) drinks have been replaced. The bartender told me she could still make them if I liked but I wanted to try Drago Centro’s Ward 8. The Ward 8 is my favorite cocktail at Bottega Louie (they’ve recently changed their cocktail list as well) and I wanted to compare it to it. It’s pretty good. Not as smooth as Bottega Louie’s but a strong contender of my top 5 Ward 8s (I also enjoy the version at Copa d’Oro).

I was glad to see the kobe burgers were still on the happy hour menu but decided to try one of their new pizzas, the sausage. Both were great and filling. I wanted to try the other bar bites including the anchovies bruschetta (bruschetta di mare), sopressata olive pizza and perhaps mortadella gnocco but alas I didn’t have enough time since I had to go off to my date. In retrospect, I should have stayed!

A friend tried the butternut squash bruschetta which looked very attractive but I wasn’t sure if I really wanted vegetable on bread. Then again, how far fetched is it from the normal diced tomatoes?

Next up, I went to Ciudad‘s happy hour on Wednesday. Recently, I went back to Ciudad after years of staying away. I really despised the slow service and the uninteresting bar menu, especially after they took away the tacos. Well, the tacos are back! And not only are they back, but they have yummy tacos like Niman Ranch chorizo and shishito peppers tacos. I really like their carnitas and potato tacos. They have a weekly special quesadilla as well. The tacos are $3 and the quesadilla is $5. Get some guacamole ($5) and you’re all set along with a $4.50 sangria or mojito. I like getting the gold vodka with pepper on the rocks.

Service was really good when we first got there, even allowing us to do happy hour at tables normally reserved for dinner service but gradually slowed as it got busier and busier. This just means to me to come early! And order lots of tacos before the rush.

My last happy hour this week was at Checkers Hotel. I was invited by the Uncouth Gourmand girls to this great happy hour that runs from 4-8 on Thursdays only.

When I arrived, Carina asked me what food should we order. At $4 a dish, I said, “all of it.” The four dishes were only $20! Plus, four featured cocktails also at $4 a piece. Done and done!

I tried the hot apple pie last night which was a nice mellow drink for the holiday season. Mulled wine might be an acquired taste though as some faces were made after the drink was sipped. And the only cold drink of the evening, the chocolate candy cane martini looked good with a candy cane hanging from the martini glass. I avoided the hot buttered rum in favor of ordering their famous Manhattan from their regular cocktail list.

The Manhattan was very light, very drinkable. Possibly because there was more vermouth? My favorite Manhattan is still the one at Seven Grand.

chicken confit with orzo

I really enjoyed the crispyness of the chicken.

crab salad with pear

Yes, indeed there’s crab hiding under there! Delicious.

bay scallops with roasted butternut squash

This was Carina’s favorite. The butternut squash was a hit in this dish!

pork loin with onion

I nabbed a small bite of this petite cut of pork. I could use a couple more slices and a roll for the ultimate sandwich. I would probably order this just for myself next time.

In addition, we also ordered from their regular menu but I didn’t eat anything but the fries from the fish and chips.

fish and chips

margherita flatbread

People seemed to enjoy this but since I had dinner plans later this evening, I skipped but look at all that cheese!

I would love to come back for the three-course dinner (only $35!). While I was there, we were greated by a few managers. One even commented to me she recognized me. I haven’t been to Checkers in years so it was a bit surprising she recognized me.

Checkers is a lovely hotel and I really enjoyed the bar. I might have to drag my reluctant coworkers down here after all!

What can I say? I love happy hour!