Calgary's Best Happy Hours
We went hunting for some of the city's best food and drink deals. You're going to want to keep all of these on your radar.
all photography by jared sych
After a hard day of work, few things inspire happiness like getting a great deal. With people watching their spending and the Alberta government having eliminated the 8 p.m. cut-off for discounted drinks, happy hours have been cropping up all over. Here are some of the best.
Happy-hour half-rack of ribs and in-house brew from Trolley 5.
A sports bar loved even by those who aren’t into sports, Home and Away not only offers what is arguably the best hot dog in town, but a weekday-afternoon “pre-game” happy hour with select drinks at $4 a pop (ballpark snacks like candied nuts, popcorn, and pickles make for great accompaniments). On Fridays and for the all-day Sunday happy hour, guests can also enjoy free Skeeball and Pop-a-Shot games.
1331 17 Ave. S.W., 403-455-9789, homeandawayyyc.com
Since opening last year, Last Best has become one of Calgary’s favourite brew pubs for good reason: its wide selection of house brews are consistently flavourful and often slightly surprising and go especially well with upscale bar snacks like spicy pig’s ears and beef cheek poutine. Afternoon happy hours feature specials on both food and drink, best enjoyed if you belly up to a padded stool at Last Best’s long and brassy bar.
607 11 Ave. S.W., 587-353-7387, lastbestbrewing.com
National is a beer hall at heart, so it just seems right that the daily happy hour is all about the brew. All four National locations will pour any beer on tap for 25 cents an ounce (which translates into $3.50 for a glass, $5 for a pint, or $10 for a big stein), which leaves you with money to spend on a plate of raw oysters or an order of tater tots with hot sauce.
4 locations, ntnl.ca
The Beltline’s newest craft brewery (housed in the old Melrose space on 17th Avenue S.W.) has already been well-embraced by the local beer community and it’s reciprocating with a daily happy hour featuring killer deals on all of Trolley’s in-house brews, as well as selected wines and cocktails. If you’re feeling peckish, delve into Trolley’s menu of “global comfort food” with revolving happy hour specials on the Trolley 5 kitchen’s versions of pizza, barbecue, wings and other dishes.
728 17 Ave. S.W., 403-454-3731, trolley5.com
Beer and German-inspired food make for an undeniably happy combination. Wurst runs its “halfy hour” seven days a week, offering discounts on half litres of domestic and imported beer, house wine, and a selection of appetizers. If you haven’t tried the Bavarian chicken wing (a deboned wing stuffed with sausage, breaded with pretzel, and served with herbed mustard and hot sauce), a happy hour visit is as good an excuse as any.
2437 4 St. S.W., 403-245-2345, wurst.ca
Creative sushi rolls and draft sake at Goro + Gun.
Discounted drinks are nice, but who can say no to happy hour pizza — especially when it’s an airy thin-crust pie dressed with fresh Italian-style toppings? From Monday to Friday, Cibo offers an afternoon happy hour featuring $5 pizzas and a 12-ounce beer or a glass of wine for $4. Late nighters can also cash in after 9 p.m., when a pizza and a pair of beer pints go for just $15.
1012 17 Ave. S.W., 403-984-4755, cibocalgary.com
Its handy downtown mall location makes Goro + Gun |an ideal spot for a post-work tipple and the Japanese restaurant’s $5 happy hour menu has turned Goro into a particularly hot spot on weekday afternoons. Wine, sake, Sapporo beer and Japanese-inspired cocktails are all on deck, but the happy-hour highlight is a long list of $5 appetizers including favourites such as sushi rolls, sashimi, tempura, ramen burgers and other tasty Japanese snacks.
Scotia Centre, 225 7 Ave. S.W., 403-237-5596, goroandgun.ca
The kitchen team at Market has upped its game over the last year and guests can enjoy the spoils of those efforts during the restaurant’s weekday happy hour. There are specials on beer, wine and highballs made with homemade bar syrups, but most importantly, $9 pricing on some of Market’s most popular appetizers. Don’t miss the duck tacos with gooseberry salsa or the fancy potato skins dressed up with local pork belly and Sylvan Star Gouda cheese.
718 17 Ave. S.W., 403-474-4414, marketcalgary.ca
Plates of street-style tacos are most people’s go-to order at Native Tongues, but the contemporary Mexican restaurant’s daily happy-hour offerings give customers a chance to explore some other food options, plus a few standard drinks, on the cheap. The happy-hour menu is small but mighty, featuring esquites (Mexican corn salad), chilaquiles (tortillas topped with salsa and your choice of meat) and a hamburger that goes above and beyond what you’d typically find at a Mexican restaurant.
235 12 Ave. S.W., 403-263-9444, nativetongues.ca
Because it’s a classy joint with retro flair, the lounge at Vintage Chophouse calls its daily late-afternoon specials a “cocktail hour,” which suits the room’s refined atmosphere. Beer, wine and three feature cocktails (including a classic gimlet) are all on special as well as pre-steak appies such as baked brie, meatballs, and the irresistible Vintage bacon, a pork belly creation served with a house-made barbecue sauce.
320 11 Ave. S.W., 403-262-7262, vintagechophouse.com
Bar C Restaurant and Lounge [now closed]
Order this: Rosé
Rather than limiting happy hour to a few select cocktails and house wines, Bar C offers up its entire wine list at 50 per cent off during its Tuesday through Friday afternoon/early evening happy hour. To make things even more fun, the bar offers up its wines in 50 ml increments (a standard glass is 150 ml, whereas a bottle is 750 ml) so guests can experiment without committing to a larger quantity of something they haven’t tried before.
340 17 Ave. S.W., 403-984-3667, bar-c.ca
Order this: Old-Fashioned
The sister bar to Bridgeland’s Blue Star Diner — which has a great cocktail list in its own right — Cannibale’s cheeky retro vibe (the bar itself is hidden behind an operational barbershop) makes it worth visiting any time, but its daily happy hour certainly sweetens the pot. There are deals on beer, wine and six different labels of whisky, as well as three classic cocktails, including a near-perfect Old-Fashioned and, to keep things interesting, an ever-changing bartender’s choice.
813 1 Ave. N.E., 403-454-5808, cannibale.ca
Order this: Garden Affair
The result of a partnership between executive chef James Waters and “cocktail curator” Christina Mah, Klein/Harris is half restaurant, half lounge (quite literally — the room is bisected into two sections, just like the name). While the Tuesday to Friday “happiest hour” offers discounts on wine and beer as well as buckets of duck wings with spicy maple garlic sauce, it’s worth splurging on at least one of Mah’s sublimely creative concoctions while you’re in the house.
110 8 Ave. S.W., 403-262-8100, kleinharris.com
Order this: Acacia
This speakeasy-style lounge in Kensington features a bounty of intricately constructed cocktails and unexpectedly hearty bar bites (it’s shocking how well biscuits and sausage gravy or a plate of charcuterie pairs with delicate drinks served in pretty coupe glasses). In proper speakeasy style, PRLR caters to the night owls with its happy hour, offering a steal on single-ounce cocktails from 11 p.m. to close, Sundays through Thursdays.
124 10 St. N.W., 403-455-2452, prlrlounge.com
Order this: The Huldra
One of Calgary’s most cosmopolitan cocktail bars, Proof takes the art of the mixed drink very seriously, and the lounge’s daily happy hour lets patrons enjoy an uncompromised level of quality on the (relative) cheap. Spend your early evenings gazing upon the impressive and elegantly arranged wall of liquor behind the bar while sipping on happy hour-priced wine, rotating beers, classic cocktails or a specially prepared feature cocktail that switches out every week.
1302 1 St. S.W., 403-246-2414, proofyyc.com
Order this: Prosecco and oysters
Raw Bar is as heralded for its cocktails as it is for its delectable “Vietmodern cuisine” and its Monday to Thursday happy hour deals on both. Both Raw Bar and its fellow Hotel Arts restaurant Yellow Door Bistro offer $6 specials on featured beer, wine, cocktails and chef-inspired small plates. To usher customers into the weekend, Raw Bar also has a deal on oysters and prosecco (or draught beer) on Fridays.
119 12 Ave. S.W., 403-206-9565, rawbaryyc.ca
Charcuterie and a glass of red at Winebar Kesington.
Playing with an award-winning wine list that’s more than 500 bottles deep, wine director Brad Royale chooses four wines each week to feature for the restaurant’s weekday happy hour. A midday glass is nothing without a little cheese — the Divino happy hour also features half-price cheese boards, which customers can tailor to their own tastes, choosing from the 20 or so cheeses that the restaurant has on hand.
113 8 Ave. S.W., 403-410-5555, divinobistro.com
With its extensive wine list, including dozens of varieties that are offered by the two-ounce taste as well as by the glass, half bottle, or bottle, Vin Room’s Mission and West Springs locations are always a good bet to test out new wines, but the daily “twice as nice” takes matters a step further. From 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close, both locations offer special pricing on a featured tapas or beer as well as a hand-picked sommelier’s wine selection.
2310 4 St. S.W. and 8561 8A Ave. S.W., 403-457-5522 and 587-353-8812, vinroom.com
Laid-back Winebar Kensington is a key spot to enjoy a pretention-free glass of vino. It’s even more relaxing when you can get two bucks off glasses of wine (as well as draught beer) and a $10 charcuterie and cheese plate during happy hour. If you feel like sinking your teeth into something more substantial, the upstairs Brasserie Kensington also has wine and beer deals as well as a $10 happy-hour cheeseburger or veggie burger.
1131 Kensington Rd. N.W., 403-457-1144, winebarkensington.com
Drink discounts make for happiness, but add in live music and you’ve got pure joy. Wine-Ohs has a weekday afternoon happy hour with $5 highballs and $2 off beer and wine, with the added value of live music in the upstairs bistro on Tuesday courtesy of the T. Buckley Trio and performances in the downstairs Cellar on Fridays from Tom Phillips, one of Calgary’s great songwriters.
811 1 St. S.W., 403-263-1650, wine-ohs.com
Bubbles and bistro snacks at Avec.
Avec’s weekday afternoon happy hour changes its offerings regularly, but the cornerstones are always great wine and French-inspired snacks to complement whatever vintage you’re drinking. Sip on handpicked reds, whites or bubblies (or, if you absolutely insist, a beer) while munching on a selection of specially priced pâtés, pickles, frites with truffle mayo, and other sophisticated bites from the happy-hour menu.
550 11 Ave. S.W., 587-352-0964, avecbistro.com
A stately restaurant in a beautiful old bank building on Stephen Avenue, The Belvedere has had some new life breathed into it thanks to its new executive chef John Michael MacNeil. But even with a fresh new menu, the restaurant’s happy hour carries a dash of old-school charm, with Tuesday through Saturday deals on two-ounce martinis. Choose from a list of over a dozen selections ranging from classic gin- and vodka-martinis to a smoky version spiked with 10-year-old Ardbeg Scotch.
107 8 Ave. S.W., 403-265-9595, thebelvedere.ca
The little sister of the prestigious Rouge restaurant in Inglewood, Bistro Rouge is a casual, family-friendly spot to grab a burger or a plate of pasta, served up with a dash of gourmet flair (the kitchen is, after all, guided by culinary director and Rouge chef Paul Rogalski). The cozy Signal Hill restaurant has frequent specials, as well as a happy hour that will appeal to wine lovers, with $25 bottles daily between 4 and 6 p.m., as well as one pound of wings and kids’ menu offerings.
1919 Sirocco Dr. S.W., 403-514-0561, bistrorougeyyc.com
The darkly decorated cocktail bar attached to The Nash is the perfect counterpoint to the bright-and-white dining room. The Off Cut has its own menu — the kitchen puts out innovative dishes that are literally made from leftover bits (i.e. “off cuts”) of what’s being prepared for the main restaurant, as well as a strong list of cocktails designed for the discerning drinker. The weekday happy hour offers $8 bar snacks, highballs, craft beer and, for a twist, “brown bag” mystery artisanal wines.
925 11 St. S.E., 403-984-3365, thenashyyc.com
Posto is best known for its incredible pizzas, but the Monday to Friday afternoon happy hour is designed to turn guests onto other Italian delicacies. Pair a $5 beer or half-priced bottle of wine with a $9 antipasti plate or à la carte treats such as Sicilian olives, arancini balls or ravioli. If you’re still hankering for a potato-and-leek pizza after all of that, the kitchen always has the oven warmed up.
1014 8 St. S.W., 403-263-4876, posto.ca