Ah, happy hour: that enchanting time of the day when working stiffs gather en masse and partake of inexpensive, frosty adult beverages to celebrate the triumphs, or drown the sorrows, of the work week. For those few pivotal hours, restaurants and bars beguile patrons with prices that lull them into opening their wallets with abandon and liberally consuming conspicuous amounts of the libation(s) of their choice.
But what if a late work day unexpectedly holds you hostage? Or there are errands demanding to be run? Or there’s a child that must be fed (babies with fur included)? Or, heck, what if you’re just too tired to go straight to happy hour? What’s a wannabe cocktail imbiber to do?
Reverse Happy Hours (RHH) allow those for whom having drinks “after-work” means getting to the bar at 9 or 10 p.m. to experience the magic of enjoying happy hours specials typically offered.
The happy hour savvy don’t sweat it. While everyone else is battling to get to the bar at 5 p.m., seasoned happy hour goers know that they can go home, relax, shower, change clothes, and maybe even get in a little nap.
Then, just as everyone else is calling it a night, the savvy emerge refreshed and ready to cocktail it up at one of the city’s fantastic "Reverse Happy Hours."
For the uninitiated, Reverse Happy Hours (RHH) are a special gift from the elixir fairies and libation pixies. They allow those for whom having drinks “after-work” means getting to the bar at 9 or 10 p.m. to experience the magic of enjoying happy hours specials typically offered earlier in the day.
Here is my curated list of some of the best RHH spots in Houston:
The Bird and the Bear
The blood red banquettes, black walls, and chairs-hanging-from-the-ceiling décor hint at the experience in store at The Bird and The Bear. The long J-shaped bar in the center of the restaurant makes for a convivial and relaxed bar scene and happy hour revelers will be delighted by the extensive bar menu options.
Several beers are offered for just $3 and wine lovers will be pleased with the selection of almost two dozen wines (including bubbly) by the glass ranging from $4 to $9. There are creative late-night cocktails, such as the “Black & Blue Paloma” (Herradura Silver Tequila, fresh blackberries, blue basil, lime & grapefruit soda) at just $5, and a wide array of tapas. Winning bites include the succulent beef short rib tacos; the lemony, tender sautéed calamari; and the crispy cornmeal-fried oysters.
The RHH also features live music/deejay with an “upbeat groove and international mix.”
RHH: Thursday-Saturday, 9-11:30 p.m. (And special weekend deals: Saturday and Sunday, 2:30-5:30 p.m.)
Sorrel Urban Bistro
$3 real ale draft beers anda rotating list of $5 premium well drinks (currently featuring Ketel One, Tanqueray, 10 Cane, Bulliet, Jose Cuervo & Johnny Walker Red), real ale draft beers, vintner’s wine on tap, and a bartender’s specialty cocktail highlight the drink options at Sorrel Urban Bistro.
The rotating menu of happy hour farm-to-table bites include duck confit "shepherd's pie," foie gras stuffed fried risotto ball, and crispy seafood wontons, just to name a few.
RHH: Tuesday-Saturday, 9-11:00 p.m.
1252 Tapas Bar
OK boys and girls, you’re going to want to take notes on this one, because the 1252 Tapas Bar Uptown Park has enough fantastic RHH specials to make your head spin. First, there’s a RHH that features a delicious array of hot and cold Spanish tapas for $2-$6. Go for the tasty fried manchego cheese, served with olives and a sweet-tart quince jelly (also known as membrillo) that tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear; small plates composed of Spanish cheeses, figs and ham; or the juicy, marinated grilled pork tenderloin served with gremolata.
Sangria, draft and bottled beer run $3-$4, while $5 will get you a house Spanish red or white wine.
But wait, there’s more.
On Thursdays and Saturdays the bar has $6 Ketel One vodka, along with tunes spun by a DJ, where you can get your Ketel One straight, on the rocks, as a martini, or in any drink form your little heart desires.
On Tuesdays, the bar hosts a “Tapas, Tunes and Tequila” night with live flamenco music and $9 margaritas made with a featured top-shelf tequilla (for December it's Don Julio 70th Anniversary). If you haven’t passed out from all of the happy hour fabulous-ness yet, I have one more for you: all day long on Wednesdays, ladies can partake of $3 red & white sangria & bottled beer; $5 wine & well drinks; $5 cava; and $15 pitchers of sangria.
With all of these specials, if there are any hours out there that are happier than those at 1252, I don’t know where they could be.
RHH: Thursday & Saturday, 10-11 p.m.; Tapas, Tunes & Tequilla: Tuesday, 7-10 p.m.; Ladies Night Wednesday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Brio River Oaks
Inner Loopers, rejoice: Brio River Oaks open a few months ago, which means that no more treks out to the City Centre or Woodlands locations are required to partake of all of your favorite $3.95 Tuscan Tasters.
Bar menu favorites include the delectable spicy eggplant and shrimp; the melt-in-your mouth beef carpaccio; and fried shrimp with spicy aioli. The menu includes $5 wine and cocktails like white peach sangria and strawberry mojitos.
The restaurant has also done a wonderful job of putting its own design stamp on TSFKAP (The Space Formerly Known As Pesce) and has added cozy booths in the center of the dining room. The most spectacular change, though, involves the bank of huge windows facing Kirby that are outfitted with the most ingenious feature: the windows have sliding panes and automated shaded screens that roll up and down. This gives patrons the outdoor dining feeling while offering protection from crawling critters and weather. Plus, the view of Kirby isn't blocked and sippers are enveloped in the comforts of a controlled temperature atmosphere. Absolutely brilliant.
RHH: Monday-Friday, 9 p.m. until close.
Want more? Here's a few additional reverse (and weekend!) happy hour options:
- Underbelly: Monday-Thursday, 10 p.m. - 1 a.m. and Friday & Saturday, 11 p.m. - 1 a.m.
- Beavers: Saturday, noon-7 p.m.
- Yard House City Centre: Sunday-Thursday, 9:30-11 p.m.
- Royal Oak Bar & Grill: Sunday-Thursday, 10 p.m. -midnight.
- Max’s Wine Dive: Monday-Friday, the last 2 hours of business; food only
- Morton’s Steakhouse: Sunday-Friday, 9 p.m. to close
- Brennan's: Monday-Sunday, 2-7 p.m.