At the close of the week, our thoughts turn to happy hour, which, as it happens, is rarely limited to a single hour. Amazing discounts for quality booze and/or food at these four favorites make cutting out of work totally worth it.
2 Lexington Ave., (212) 777-2410, Gramercy Park
Danny Meyer's paean to Rome has a new summer happy hour and bar snacks menu devised by gifted executive chef Nick Anderer. On weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m., a square of impeccable, thin-crust pizza (potato and thyme or eggplant and ricotta) is $2, even better washed down with a $5 Italian beer (Forst Premium Lager is especially good). Deviled eggs with pickled sardines ($2), pork cracklings with spicy vinegar ($3) and light, crisp potato skins with Pecorino and black pepper ($3) are also incredibly delicious deals, especially when considering that appetizers on Maialino's dinner menu cost way more.
2. V Bar St. Marks
132 First Ave., (212) 473-7200, East Village
Happiness is a choice, and the variety of half-price drinks at this airy, East Village bar brings nothing but gladness. Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. all wines by the glass are eligible. All. Over 50 choices, mostly Italian, are offered, but in summer I'm partial to the crisp, citrus-y Sancerre that's normally $14, reduced to $7. What's more, top shelf liquor and specialty cocktails are slashed from $12 to $6. If you get peckish, food is full price, though $9 for a plate of fried calamari isn't bad.
197 Second Ave., (212) 529-0340, East Village
The East Village has the highest density of happy hours, so it's only right that two out of our four top picks are in the neighborhood. Shoolbred's is a dark, pleasant hangout, vaguely Scottish in design, with professional barkeeps who pour generously. The hours are generous, too, with two-for-one drinks from 4 to 8 p.m. on weekdays. Belgium's Delirium Tremens on draft is ecstasy; while you might quibble at the $9 pricetag, you'll stop griping when you get a wooden chip that buys you the second for free. (Guinness and Brooklyn Lager are $6 a pint.)
4. The Half King
515 W. 23rd St., (212) 462-4300, Chelsea
This comfortable Chelsea haunt attracts artists and writers, partly because Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) is one of the owners. He also co-directed, with photojournalist Tim Hetherington, the acclaimed documentary Restrepo about the Afghanistan war. Hetherington, a former Half King regular, died in a different war in April, covering the conflict in Misrata, Libya. That same day his colleague and another friend of the bar, Pulitzer-prize nominated photographer Chris Hondros, was also killed. Moving tributes to these courageous men are on Half King's website. When you visit the bar, raise a toast to them. From 5-8 p.m. draft beers are $4. The pub food is good around the clock.
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