Don’t Worry, Be a Happy Hour

By RYAN NEWHOUSE

Now that I’ve had a chance to settle into and savor a taste of Boulder, Colorado, one of the things that has struck me, other than the super high density of craft brewers in town, is that nearly every restaurant in the city has a Happy Hour, and we’re not talking about a “run-of-the-mill-Bud-special” with 10-cent French fries. I mean they are trying to put the “Happi” in my “ness” (to quote Ben Harper).

These Happy Hour specials feature fancy drinks, (high-alcohol) beers and a unique, discounted menu. And best of all, every place has one seven days a week! Last Sunday, for instance, my family and I enjoyed a late afternoon fare at a French-inspired restaurant, dining on mussels, oysters and bone marrow while sipping on craft beers. It was a delight, especially since the bill was more than reasonable for what we got.

Missoula is also no stranger to a Happy Hour. When I used to work downtown, 4 PM meant I was trading in my office chair for a wooden bench at The Old Post for $2.75 Big Sky beers and $.25 wings (oh, and they’re spicy – I ask for my sauce on the side!).

On the other side of town, Jaker’s Bar and Grill does a special late Happy Hour (9-11 PM Mon-Wed and 9-Midnight Thurs-Sat). Jaker’s special menu includes tasty pizzas, nachos and wings, as well as 2-for-1 drink specials. For accolades, Jakers topped the Missoula Independent’s 2009 “Best Happy Hour” reader’s list.

For something even more budget-friendly, the Bridge Pizza offers its patrons a 3-5 PM Happy Hour, seven days a week, where when you buy a slice of pizza ($3) you get a free “half-draft” of Kettlehouse’s Eddy Out or Coldsmoke beer (2010’s Indy reader’s “Best Local Brew” pick). If you buy two slices, you get a whole pint for free! Beer and pizza and discounts – what’s not to love!?

There are certainly other great spots in Missoula to find happiness in the afternoon, from having fancy martinis at Finn & Porter to…where else? Let us know your favorite digs for a discounted libation.

Click here to see Ryan’s “Drink It”archive.

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Ryan Newhouse has lived in Missoula since 2002 and has tipped his glass in most of the town’s establishments. He is a full-time writer, husband and parent (in no particular order) and a part-time zymurgist. He makes a mean hard cider and pairs his cocktails with dishes from his blog, Cooked Animals: Recipes for WildGame.