When we think "happy hour," we generally think value and, most likely, the bar closest to the office or house. But, if you step outside the usual happy-hour box, there are some sophisticated surprises in store at hotels across the city.
From the beach to downtown, hotel bars are the best kept secrets of that vague 3 to 7 p.m. time, when we unwind at the end of a long day and embark on the evening ahead.
Intimate, elegant, often with some of the most stunning views in the city, hotel bar happy hours are worth checking out.
Terrazza Lounge at Hotel Casa del Mar, Santa Monica
For those of you who wish they could spend the entire day — every day — at the beach, the Terrazza Lounge inside Hotel Casa del Mar is the happy hour antidote. From 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays, classic cocktails, highballs and wines can be had for $10, craft beers or bottles (Stella Artois, Amstel, Corona or Lagunitas) for $5 and house-made, thin-crust pizzas for $8. After 6 p.m., there's live entertainment, and if that isn't enough to reel you in, then the panorama of the Pacific seen through floor-to-ceiling windows should do the trick. Happy hour Mon.-Fri., 3-6 p.m. 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica; (310) 430-7144, hotelcasadelmar.com.
Grand Lobby Bar at Culver Hotel, Culver City
Intimate, cozy, and very civilized, the Grand Lobby Bar at the Culver Hotel runs happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. and includes patio service. The $7 cocktails include a kir royale, an old-fashioned and a mojito, as well as cocktails whose name reflect the hotel's Wizard of Oz connections, such as the Wicked Witch (tequila, triple sec, strawberry puree, agave and lime) and the Yellow Brick Lemonade (pisco, lemonade and passion fruit puree). Wine and draft beer are $5. Bar bites include truffle fries, tempura green beans and dark beer–battered fish tacos, all $6. Happy hour daily, 4-7 p.m. 9400 Culver Blvd., Culver City; (310) 558-9400, culverhotel.com.
Scarpetta at Montage Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills
Scarpetta inside the Montage in Beverly Hills calls its after-work offerings a "Happier Hour." You will, too, when you see prices like $9 for signature cocktails such as the Amore (rum, Cointreau, blackberries and lime) and the Fortuna (pear vodka, St. Germain and peach), which are usually $16. House wines are $8 and lounge nibbles from chef Freddy Vargas are available as well. Happy hour Mon.-Sat., 4-7 p.m. 225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; (888) 860-0788, montagehotels.com/beverlyhills/dining/scarpetta.
Tart at Farmer's Daughter Hotel, Fairfax
Tart Restaurant, conveniently located by the Farmer's Daughter Hotel, is smack in the middle of the city, which makes it a convenient east-west meeting point. During happy hour, the restaurant's trout deviled eggs, crab and avocado toast, and chicharron fries are $5; house cocktails, wine and most beers are $5. All of this can be enjoyed on the outside patio under heat lamps, next to a roaring fire. Happy hour daily, 4-7 p.m. 115 S. Fairfax Ave., Beverly Grove; (323) 556-2608, tartrestaurant.com.
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SPiN Ping-Pong Club and Rooftop Bar at Standard Downtown, downtown
Whether you crave activity or relaxation, the Standard Hotel's SPiN Ping-Pong Club and Rooftop Bar offer you happy hour options in downtown L.A. Well drinks are $7, select beers are $6 and house wine and Champagne are $5. The view topside and the ping-pong action downstairs are icing on the cake. Happy hour Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m. 550 S. Flower St., dwntwn.; (213) 892-8080, standardhotels.com/downtown-la/food-drink.
Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book Gin: A Global History. Her book The 12 Bottle Bar, co-written with David Solmonson, was released July 29. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.