25 of Calgary's Best Happy Hours
Because we’re happy, we bring you this expansive list of where to drink and eat after a day at the office
It’s the happiest hour of the day. Or the happiest couple of hours. Maybe even a bit more.
In Alberta, bars and restaurants can offer happy hour deals until 8 p.m., when booze has to return to its normal menu price. But, before then, they can present deals as low as $2.75 for an ounce of spirits, $1.75 for a five-ounce glass of wine, $2.75 for a bottle of beer or $3.20 for a pint. (The old two-for-one specials are verboten.)
It would be great to see that pricing occasionally — especially $1.75 for a good cabernet — but seldom do bar owners go that far in the discounts. Drawing customers with deep-discount drinks is frowned upon in the industry. Instead, we see a few bucks off drinks at happy hour and often some food specials. (Wednesday wing night, anyone?)
But where to spend those precious hours? Happy hour is all over the map, both literally and figuratively. So, to help you find your happy place, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite happy hour haunts.
1410 Bier Haus celebrates Village Brewery, including its specially made Holy Grale, with steep discounts on weekdays, 3 to 6 p.m. The kettle chips are free, and daily food specials (Mondays, $12 fajitas) are on offer.
(1410 17 Ave. S.W., 403-229-1410, 1410bierhaus.ca)
More than a hundred tequilas lining the back bar give a less-than-subtle hint that Añejo might be a good place for a margarita or a straight shot of high-end agave juice. Drop that price (for the margarita, anyway) to $5 during “halfy hour” (3 to 5 p.m. daily), add tacos for $2.50 and the party is on.
(2116 4 St. S.W., 587-353-2656, anejo.ca)
Head underground downtown to Black Betty’s happy hour specials — $2 off draft and glasses of wine, $1 off highballs, $5 off bottles of wine — and daily food bargains. Betty also offers a buy-one appetizer, get the second one 50 per cent off, weekdays, 3 to 6 p.m.
(606 1 St. S.W., 403-265-4230, blackbettybwb.com)
Buzzards, Calgary’s classic pub with a sunny, rambling, near-year-round patio, rolls out draft beer for $5 a pint, weekdays, 4 to 7 p.m. Feel like staying a while (and calling a cab)? There are highballs for $4.
(140 10 Ave. S.W., 403-264-6959, bottlescrewbill.com)
Cibo, the lively, casual, two-storey Italian joint, brightens 17th Avenue S.W. with half price pizzas, $5 wine and $4 Mill Street Draft, Monday through Friday, 3 to 5 p.m. And, if you like a late-night bargain, there are $10 pizzas for the last two hours before Cibo closes.
(1012 17 Ave. S.W., 403-984-4755, cibocalgary.com)
photograph by jared sych
Nothing beats pizza after a hard day’s work, except maybe a pizza with a $5 glass of wine or pint of beer. (Bottles are $5, too!). Enjoy Double Zero’s hidden basement location in The Core or avoid rush hour at the Chinook Centre outlet, weekdays, 3 to 6 p.m.
(The Core, 403-265-9559; and Chinook Centre, 403-457-7677, doublezeropizza.ca)
Situated in Fire Hall #3, built in 1907, the Hose & Hound can douse your thirst with $5.75 pints and $4.75 highballs and bottled beer, 4 to 8 p.m., daily. Stay too long and you may see some ghosts that haunt the old fire station.
(1030 9 Ave. S.E., 403-234-0508, thehose.ca)
The Kensington Pub, or K-Pub as it’s known to regulars, offers $1 off pints and 10 per cent off highballs daily (including Sundays!), 4 to 7 p.m. The English-themed, Kensington-area pub offers food specials to go along with the drinks, too.
(207 10A St. N.W., 403-270-4505, kensingtonpub.com)
The large space is divided into different “zones” so it can accommodate you whether you’re with a big group of rowdies or want quiet one-on-one time. Draft beer, highballs and wine are all $5, Monday to Friday, from 3 to 6 p.m. Plus, it has daily all-day nosh specials like half-priced select sharing plates on Tuesdays and $10 flatbreads on Fridays.
(801 6 St. S.W., 587-352-5677, korqwinehouse.ca)
Slip away to the sunny sands of Mexico with a bucket of Corona ($20) or a $4 highball along with some tacos (two for $6) at La Vida Loca. But watch your calendar; the specials run 4 to 7 p.m., but the buckets are on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the tacos are on Mondays and Wednesdays.
(1129 17 Ave. S.W., 587-349-1400, lavidaloca.ca)
The Libertine is known for its meaty pig roasts and creative pizzas (bison salami? confit chicken?) as well as craft beers and a good wine list. Take a buck off your draft or enjoy $6 glasses of wine, weekdays, 3 to 7 p.m.
(233 Stephen Ave. S.W., 403-265-3665, thelibertine.ca)
Charlene and Clint Pellerin serve up some of the best wings in the city (Wednesdays, $8 a pound) to go along with $4.60 bottles of domestic beer or highballs, Tuesday through Saturday, 4 to 7 p.m. Try the dill pickle or the ginger wings.
(2808 Ogden Rd. S.E., 403-264-4441)
photograph by jared sych
With four locations, The National offers multiple takes on happy hour, with $5 pints and cocktails and a lively come-one, come-all atmosphere. The Nationals downtown and on 10th Avenue run specials 3 to 6 p.m.; the two on 17th Avenue and in Westhills run 3 to 5 p.m., weekdays.
(550 17 Ave. S.W., 403-229-0226; 341 10 Ave. S.W., 403-774-2739; 180 Stewart Green S.W., 403-685-6801; 225 Stephen Ave. S.W. (+30 level), 403-237-5556; ntnl.ca)
The Pig & Duke rounds out its porky menu with locally brewed Wild Rose pints for $5, weekdays, 4 to 6 p.m. Balance that with a personal plate of nachos for $5 (add pork belly for $4 more) or indulge in daily food specials in this casual neighbourhood pub.
(1312 12 Ave. S.W., 403-245-8487, pigandduke.com)
In the southern reaches of the city, The Plow satisfies the neighbourhood with weekday happy hour (4 to 6 p.m.) food features like a grilled half-chicken ($8) or barbecued ribs ($8), with pints of domestic beer ($5) and half-priced bottles of wine on Tuesdays.
(380 Midpark Way S.E., 403-254-2245, theplow.ca)
Attached to its big brother Bonterra, Posto pours half-priced wine, weekdays, 3 to 5 p.m. along with appetizer snacks like chef Ben Mills’ chili-lime chicharrons. The location, just a short stroll south of the tracks from downtown offices, is a plus, too.
(1014 8 St. S.W., 403-263-4876, posto.ca)
Bask by the Hotel Arts pool (in warmer weather) and enjoy Raw Bar by Duncan Ly’s 99-cent specials featuring $4.99 glasses of prosecco, $4.99 pints and 99-cent oysters on Fridays, 4 to 8 p.m. Or slip inside to the cozy confines of Raw Bar itself on Thursday (4 to 8 p.m.) for $4.99 pints along with live music.
(119 12 Ave. S.W., Hotel Arts, 403-206-9565, rawbaryyc.ca)
photograph by jared sych
Rush hour never felt so good. Rush’s “Rush Hour” (weekdays, 3 to 6 p.m.) specials include oysters for a buck, sushi specials and premium feature cocktails for $6. Rush has shifted gears with its new “Ocean Prime” approach but is as elegant and inventive as ever.
(207 9 Ave. S.W., 403-271-7874, rushoceanprime.com)
Schooners rings in happy hour early with a 2 p.m. start. (It runs to 6 p.m., weekdays and Saturdays; noon to 8 p.m., Sundays.) During these relaxed hours in Patterson, selected domestic pints and bottled beer are an enticing $4.25 and glasses of wine are $5.25. The nautically themed Schooners also has daily food specials. (Half-priced wings on Sundays!)
(6416 Old Banff Coach Rd. S.W., 403-240-2424, schoonerspub.com)
Scopa, which opened just last spring, is gaining a neighbourhood following in the Tuxedo-Crescent Heights area for its creative Italian cuisine and casual setting. And on weekdays, 3 to 5 p.m., it’s packed with regulars enjoying $5 glasses of wine.
(2220 Centre St. N.E., 403-276-2030, scopacalgary.com)
Charming, engaging and a little bit grungy, the Ship & Anchor’s status as a Calgary landmark includes weekday happy hour,
4 to 8 p.m. (Saturday, 6 to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 to 6 p.m.), featuring discounted beer and highballs. And happy hour tacos are $5.
(534 17 Ave. S.W., 403-245-3333, shipandanchor.com)
As Irish as it comes, St. James Corner counts down the seconds to the next St Patrick’s Day. You can help knock off two hours, weekdays (4 to 6 p.m.), with a daily changing array of drink ($5.50 Keith’s draft on Thursdays) and food deals ($2 tacos, Tuesdays).
(1219 1 St. S.W., 403-262-1157, stjamescorner.ca)
Prime yourself for the theatre or a concert at the Calgary Centre for Performing Arts with a pre-show visit to Teatro. Enjoy the light bar menu (or go full tilt into dinner) while sipping on a Peroni beer or a highball for $5, weekdays, 3 to 6 p.m.
(200 Stephen Ave. S.E., 403-290-1012, teatro.ca)
photograph by jared sych
Like to lighten the day with a little bubbly? Check out Vin Room’s 20 per cent off sparkling wines (except the already value-priced prosecco), 4 to 7 p.m., daily (and all day on Sunday and Monday). Pair the bubbles with $2 oysters and romance could be in the air.
(2310 4 St. S.W., 403-457-5522; 8561 8A Ave. SW, 587-353-8812, vinroom.com)
Weekdays, 3 to 6 p.m., Wurst, a Mission anchor with a Bavarian tone, rolls out half-litre steins of import brew for $7.25 ($5 for domestic, $5 for house wine). Pig out on a platter of wings, calamari and potato skins for $18 and get your oompah on.
(2437 4 St. S.W., 403-245-2345, wurst.ca)