Place: Vertical Wine Bistro, 70 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (626) 795-3999.
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 4 p.m.-7 p.m. All day Sunday.
Deals: Eleven food options include truffled mac-n-cheese, charcuterie and sliders, ranging from $5 to $10. Cocktails are $7 to $8, which include blueberry lemonade and Kir Royale. A handful of beer and wine options like Listel Rosé and Paulaner are $5 to $8.
Vibe: There are more than a handful of choices for happy hour within a three-block radius of Vertical Wine Bistro in Old Town Pasadena. If you're in the mood for a less raucous crowd, the second-floor restaurant is the better bet -- where the most spirited discussions will likely be amongst a large group of seasoned professionals on their adult children. (It turns out that your late-twentysomething-early-thirtysomething career ambitions make for fine chatter -- the more seemingly outlandish the better.)
Under executive chef Laurent Quenioux's direction, happy hour food is given a fair amount of attention. Food options are simply named and described similarly, with little description. You might be pleasantly surprised to find the cheeses -- Gruyere, cheddar and blue -- listed in connection to the sliders refer to what is topped respectively on the patties in a mini burger trio. Likewise, the corn fritter on menu belies the fried shredded zucchini that enrobes the corn, making for a textural contrast against the cured salmon and creme fraiche.
Cocktails are described with a little more detail, but you won't want to stray from The Lolita. Cava, fresh lemonade and blood orange bitters is muddled with fresh blueberries, sweetened just so with brown sugar and blue agave. Be careful to pace yourself on these; three of them back-to-back and you'll likely turn the volume a few decibels too high.
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