Where are the best happy hours in this giant metropolis? We're not just talking $1 off some boring, mass-produced beer. We're talking about a chance to try great restaurants at amazing prices - and run up tabs so low that even a penny pincher would be happy to pay them. Our writers had no trouble compiling a short list of the places they wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone with a thirst and an appetite.
The Ebanos River runs directly from Mexico to the United States; during Prohibition, it was a popular thoroughfare for illegal hooch. Ebanos Crossing, the cavernous downtown modernist speakeasy, takes its name - and its thematic cues - from the river and its intersection of north and south. The drinks menu is divided into three sections, plus bubbly and several house-bottled cocktails. The offerings of "El Norte" are composed of spirits native to the United States, like apple brandy, rye and bourbon, while the selections in "El Sur" include such South of the Border favorites as tequila and mezcal. Cocktails classified "Ebanos Crossing," meanwhile, are a mash-up of the two.
The satisfying small-bites menu reflects the same crosscultural leanings, with everything from oysters to empanadas to braised-pork sliders. During happy hour, known here as "Crossing Hour," drinks are all $7 and munchies range from $3.50 to $6 - a whopping 40 percent off regular prices. Standout cocktails include the Colt Neck Cobbler, an apple brandy riff on a classic with Laird's apple brandy, sloe gin, lemon juice and blackberries; and the Thornton Affair, with jalapeño-infused blanco tequila, rhum agricole, lime cordial and green Chartreuse. 200 S. Hill St., dwntwn.; (213) 935-8829; ebanoscrossing.com. "Crossing Hour" is Tuesday through Friday, 4-7 p.m. - Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
Amidst the $10 valet parking, $2,000 Chanel jackets and $600-a-night hotel rooms of Beverly Hills lies one of the best bargains on the happy hour circuit: the bar at Scarpetta, the L.A. outpost of Scott Conant's Italian empire. Everything about happy hour here is generous, from the time (4-8 p.m., Monday through Saturday) to the menu.
The list of $8 cocktails is all top-shelf, with drinks like the Noce (rye, Angostura bitters, pecan) and the Fortuna (pear vodka, St. Germain, peach puree). Even better, the $8 appetizers go above and beyond drunk-food happy hour offerings - they're mini-meals in themselves and actually seasonal, so you might find peach and ricotta salad in summer, and braised kale and hen egg on toast in winter. At this happy hour, you'll feel like a million bucks - and you'll only need to throw down a twenty. 225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; (855) 370-8021, montagebeverlyhills.com/beverly-hills-restaurants.php. Happy hour Monday through Saturday, 4-8 p.m. - Erin Lyall
To anyone outside the city limits, Stache Bar looks like just another punk-rock dive along Long Beach's infamous Fourth Street drinking row - windowless charm, surly pool players and all. But as local fans of good liquor and craft cocktails know, Stache is an unlikely jewel, where even during regular hours you can get a small-batch spirit (think: anything from Rogue, Hudson, Few or St. George) on a 2-inch ice cube for less than $10.
When happy hour does kick in, everything on the long list of classic and imaginative house cocktails - from the Tito's Vodka Moscow Mule and Buffalo Trace Mint Julep to the Mouth Brow, which uses TRU organic gin and hibiscus liquor - is only $6. Well liquors, which include middle-shelf surprises like Dickel and Ancient Age, are just $2. Can't make it to the LBC in time for happy hour? Stumble in on Tuesday or Thursday nights, when mixologist Daniel Flores makes $5 punch drinks and $8 custom creations, giving away even more L.A.-worthy liquor at Long Beach prices. 941 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 606-2529. Happy hour is all day Monday and Tuesday through Thursday, 2-7 p.m. - Sarah Bennett
Pour Haus Wine Bar
Lorena Porras, owner of Pour Haus, has spent years in the wine industry exploring the best boutiques and finding the rarest varietals available, stocking her clean and casual bar in downtown's Arts District with the best wines for the best prices.
During daily happy hour, choose from a $5 red, white or sparkling wine (think Lambrusco!), while you snack on oxtail tacos, flatbread white pizza, and our favorite, papitas bravas - roasted pee wee potatoes with olive oil, garlic and red aioli (all $5). When you walk in, you're often offered "a taste" of what's pouring just to get you started. Treatment like this from a warm and friendly staff, and the occasional extension of happy hour until close, will have you wishing you were a neighborhood regular. 1820 Industrial St., dwntwn.; pourhauswinebar.com. Happy hour daily, 4-7 p.m. - Erika Bolden
When you're seeking the highest quality spirits for the best possible price, nothing beats the unpretentious happy hour at Neat Bar in Glendale. During designated hours, everything is half off - a staggering deal when you consider that pours from top-shelf bottles can run up to $30 during regular hours. Whiskey reigns and bourbon shines. The frills-free midcentury design is cozy and welcoming; if the Brady Bunch kids ever hit the sauce, they'd be stylistically right at home here.
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Smart drinkers come here not to get drunk but to enjoy, in earnest, the supreme quality of their tipple. This is emphasized by the deconstruction of all cocktails, which are presented neat, with a sidecar mixer of choice (your inevitable buzz is just a bonus). Let us all raise a glass to affordable single malt. 1114 N. Pacific Ave., Glendale; neatbarglendale.com. Happy hour weekdays, 4:30-7:30 p.m. ? - Erika Bolden