When it's time for happy hour, there's always your neighborhood bar. But you can't just hang out there all the time, and special circumstances call for special places. Where to go when you have friends who have never been to L.A. before - and are desperately in need of something soothing after a day sightseeing in Santa Monica? Where to go when you're on your way to LAX - and you suddenly get that alert that your friend's plane is landing a full hour late? Where to take vegans? Where to take a date? And where to go when you're really, really thirsty at 3 p.m.?
We've got all the answers you'll ever need. Here are 10 happy hours that work extremely well in specific situations. Save this list for the next time you've got the munchies - or a crabby tourist.
Best Happy Hour When You're Single: Birds
In a shaded glen on Franklin Avenue, just east of where it intersects the 101, lies a trendy yet isolated block of history-rich Hollywood. The area's best-looking residents flock here to get coffee at Bourgeois Pig or catch a comedy show at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. By far the most approachable and affordable establishment on the stretch, however, is Birds. A rotisserie chicken café by day, at happy hour, it dims its lights and fills up with the area's young, weird, single and successful, who casually sip $3 wells and $3 draft beers looking for that next banter buddy. Empty barstools are mere conversation starters for the diverse Birds crowd, and rentable Jenga and Connect Four games ensure the post-work social sessions stay lubricated straight into Ladies Night (Friday, 11 p.m. to close), when all drinks destined for female mouths are half-price. 5925 Franklin Ave., Hlywd.; (323) 465-0175, birds??hollywood.com. Happy hour weekdays, 4-6 p.m.; all well drinks, draft beers, wine and cocktails are $3 or $5. ? - Sarah Bennett
Best Happy Hour When You're on a Date: Cliff's Edge
At Cliff's Edge in Silver Lake, strings of lights, candles and warm wood touches all build to romantic intimacy. All hours are happy hour at the bar, where you can order a $7 cocktail chosen daily by the bartender, or a $3 beer. First dates (set up blind or online) are in luck: There are always plenty of people around to provide a buffer and lots of fun historic details to discuss - 1920s chandeliers salvaged from the Opium Den hang above the bar and reclaimed wood panels line the walls. If the night is going well, venture onto the patio for dinner. If it falls apart, a word to the wise: Escaping your date by scaling the ancient tree piercing the patio is ill-advised. 3626 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; cliffsedge?cafe.com. Happy hour Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m.-mid.; Friday-Saturday, 6 p.m.-2 a.m. - Erika Bolden
Best Happy Hour When You're Starting Early: Cole's Red Bar Car
Fittingly, the website for Cole's Red Car Bar quotes Humphrey Bogart: "The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind." With Cole's happy hour starting at 3 p.m. on weekdays - and running all day Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to closing - there's no reason to be a few drinks behind, ever. Cole's "Holy Trinity" is three of the most classic cocktails: the old-fashioned, the Manhattan and the Sazerac. Other selections range from the Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer, fresh-squeezed lime juice in the traditional copper mug) to the Martinez (Bols genever, sweet vermouth, orange curaçao, Angostura bitters). All menu drinks are $8 during happy hour; well drinks and beer are $5, with wine and bubbly $6. Add half of Cole's famous French Dip, served with fries for just $5, and your day is complete before the clock strikes 5 p.m. 118 E. Sixth St., dwntwn.; (213) 622-4090, colesfrench?dip.com. Happy hour drinks, weekdays, 3-7 p.m. and all day Tuesday; happy hour food, weekdays 3-7 p.m. - Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
Best Happy Hour for Sports and Games: West 4th and Jane
West 4th and Jane manages to hide in broad daylight, with discounted prices on superior beers, just steps away from throngs of tourists on the Santa Monica Promenade. Any sporting event being televised between 5-7 p.m. awaits you (no need to haggle with the bar staff to get someone to turn on the hockey game). Plus there are select $4 American craft beers and $5 imports, or $5 wine and Champagne if you are so inclined. Because you are definitely staying at this unpretentious and neighborly bar for a couple of rounds (you've probably already made a few new friends), order tater tots and buffalo wings ($5 each) and challenge someone to a casual game of Connect Four. Or, better yet, play them for the bill. Best out of three. 1432 Fourth St., Santa Monica; west4thjane.com. Happy hour daily, 4-7 p.m. - Erika Bolden
Best Happy Hour Near LAX: Cinco
Cinco is the product of an ensemble. Five partners who worked together at places like Bar Chloe and the Yard (now closed) bring you a Oaxacan-inspired bar and restaurant in Westchester, sandwiched between Venice and LAX. The Latin theme extends from a tequila-heavy cocktail menu and spicy, fresh comida all the way to the serapes. Pueblo-style benches line the walls, and cacti peek through the window. Happy hour is generous and hearty; you will be well-fed with an order of $5 queso fundido and a round of $1 street tacos. Sip on one of five beautifully crafted, pleasantly stiff cocktails for $6. The space is intimate for couples but especially great for groups, who can lounge or dine at a communal table. Happy hour also includes $5 burritos, $4 select craft beer and $5 select wine. 7241 W. Manchester Ave., Westchester; cincola.com. Happy hour weekdays, 3-7 p.m. - Erika Bolden
Best Happy Hour for Vegans: ?Mohawk Bend
When Mohawk Bend opened nearly three years ago in an abandoned movie theater on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, it brought craft beer and vegan food together with an obsession for California that topped all other L.A. eateries. As part of Tony Yanow's beer-centric empire - which now includes Tony's Darts Away in Burbank, the Vegan Beer and Food Festival and Golden Road Brewery and Pub - Mohawk's entire menu of seasonal food, California-made beers and spirits is presumed vegan unless an item is marked "NV." This means an animal-free paradise awaits at happy hour, when ordinarily grease-bomb comfort foods like nachos and BBQ chicken pizzas come instead covered in fresh vegetables, tofu and house-made cashew cheese as good as melted gold. Golden Road beers, often vegan, also are $4 in the bar. Try a pint of the Cabrillo Kolsch or, for hopheads, a Wolf Among Weeds double IPA. 2141 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; (213) 483-2337, mohawk.la. Happy hour weekdays, 3-7 p.m., plus 10 p.m. to close Sunday through Thursdays and 11 p.m. to close Friday and Saturday. - Sarah Bennett
Best Happy Hour When You're Stoned: One Eyed Gypsy
Even on nights when you're not plugging away at your dissertation or training for a marathon, you can spend your time on more productive things than contemplating James Franco's latest pièce de résistance. Like, say, exercising your California-given right to self-medicate. If you do choose to indulge, One Eyed Gypsy downtown is the best place to head afterward. This wonderland of oddities and opulence has no shortage of props to capture your attention plus good stoner food to fill your belly. Get ahead of the late-night crowd and come in for happy hour for titillating combos like "slider & beer" or "corn dog & beer" (both $6). A generous pile of tater tots is a bargain at $3, and the deep-fried Oreo will satisfy your sweet tooth for $1. Or just enjoy the house special - pizza and a boilermaker (beer and a shot) for $12 - and then hit the skee-ball and photo booth (yes, the place has its own photo booth!). 901 E. First St., dwntwn.; one-eyedgypsy.com. Happy hour daily, 7- 9 p.m. (closed Monday-Tuesday). - Erika Bolden
Best Happy Hour for Entertaining ?Tourists: FIG
After a day of squiring around out-of-towners, you're hot and tired; they're jet-lagged and hungry. Just a few blocks up from the Santa Monica Pier, in the see-and-be-seen Fairmont Hotel, FIG will soothe your frayed nerves and achy feet. From 5-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, everything on the menu (except steak) is half off; so are all cocktails. Which means you can nosh on chef Ray Garcia's seasonal fare - like young beets sourced from Santa Monica's farmers market, scarlet quinoa or grilled fish - with prices topping out at about $16. The secret's out on this happy hour, and the room is usually buzzing and bustling, so be sure to make a reservation. Early-bird dinner never felt so cool. 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica; (310) 319-3111, fairmont.com/santa-monica/dining/figrestaurant. Tuesday-Saturday, 5-6 p.m. - Erin Lyall
Best Happy Hour for Farm-to-Table: Blue Cow Kitchen
Casual ambiance and rustic-chic design set the mood at this downtown bar and restaurant. The bare-bulb "Eat Happy" sign brightens a faux - wood pallet wall, and the patio is especially bright and bustling for such a metropolitan establishment. As is common at most downtown bars, suits make up a hefty portion of the afternoon crowd, but a couple of $5 craft beers (Racer 5, Ommegang Witte) bring all age groups together. Farm-to-table food items make this place stand out, and you can enjoy a full belly and a clean conscience with $2 happy hour pink eggs & ham (a quick soak in beet juice imparts the festive coloring); $4 baked-then-fried potatoes or $6 fried chicken. Happy hour also includes $5 well drinks and $6 wine. 350 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; bluecowkitchen.com. Happy hour drinks, weekdays, 2:30-6:30 p.m.; happy hour food, weekdays, 4:30-6:30 p.m. - Erika Bolden
Best Happy Hour for Pizza: ?On the Thirty
The "Thirty" in the name of this Ventura Boulevard bar and restaurant refers to the 30 California craft beers on tap, plus 30 California wines. Ingredients are locally sourced and organic, making this modern-casual establishment a California-centric destination. Happy hour at the long, concrete bar includes half off the selection of house-made pizzas. Owner Justin Urich disclaims, "I love New York pizza, but this is a different style of pizza." The chewy-crisp crust gets its texture from a 16-hour fermentation and is topped with house-made sauce and ingredients like sopressata, Roma bruschetta, wild mushroom and basil. Add one of three discounted glasses of wine, served for just $5 a glass, and you can walk away with the perfect meal for less than $12. Happy hour also includes select small plates, a daily rotating cocktail and select beer.