By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The term "happy hour" conjures up easy, distinct portraits. A cluster of proletarian workers downing Budweisers after a long day laboring on the assembly line. A gaggle of tipsy secretaries dancing wildly to Top 40 hits after knocking back margaritas. A beaten businessman with a loosened tie staring into a whisky and dreading the LIRR ride back home. Such magic! Such history!
At its core, the concept of happy hour is simply promotion: How can bars lure in thirsty customers during off-hours? Here, in New York City—a place where nine-to-five schedules are an anachronism and weeknights swiftly spiral into boozy mayhem—off-hours don't really exist. No matter the time, there's always someone willing to sidle up to a bar, and there's always a bar willing to resort to bribery once it gets those sidlers in the door. Thanks to relatively liberal drinking laws (open containers sadly excluded), there are 20 hours in the day when cheap public drinking is readily accessible. We've done our best to guide you, intrepid barfly, by listing places with great deals from sunup until last call.
Jackie's Fifth Amendment
404 Fifth Avenue (between 7th and 8th), Brooklyn, NY 11215, 718-788-9123
A dirty old uncle lurking along Park Slope's double-decker-stroller parade, Jackie's provides two important things: alcohol and a place to drink it. There's mythology in the marrow of this bare-bones establishment—allegedly founded during prohibition, the bar is named for a gangster who refused to snitch—but we hesitate to use the word "timeless" for a place where the harrows of age are so readily apparent among the stool-mounted denizens. Median age during daylight hours? Oh, about 60. Fortunately, prices seem similarly mired in liver-spotted days of yesteryear—a bucket with six seven-ounce bottles of beer costs a mere $9, whether they're sucked down at the ass-crack of dawn or not. "Come in happy, and bring a lot of cash," advises the gray-haired bartender with a toothy grin. "No markers here." That's right, Park Slopers: Save your credit cards and running tabs for your dog's vegan bakery.
Jeremy's Ale House
South Street Seaport
228 Front Street (between Beekman and Peck Slip), 212-964-3537, New York, NY 10038, jeremysalehouse.com
With the Fulton Street Fish Market and its halibut-heaving laborers gone, South Street Seaport is little more than a cobblestoned outcropping of gourmet coffee breweries and Italian seafood joints fit for tourists and lunching nine-to-fivers. In short, it's a non-neighborhood. But like a rat lurking in the basement of the Gap (there's one of those down there, too), Jeremy's Ale House remains a splendidly seedy blue-collar place to get plastered. Beneath ceilings scrawled with Magic Marker and strung with hundreds of dangling bras ("The girls take 'em off and donate 'em," says the bartender, a hulking Sopranos extra whose eyes stay trained on the Yankees game), thirsty firemen and assorted C-shifters come in for the "eye-opener" special running between 8 and 10 a.m.: $1.75 for 32-ounce Styrofoam cups of Coors or Coors Light, and half-price off everything else. A few too many of those monstrosities, and you'll be plotting how to hijack the water taxi for a joy ride to Governor's Island.
The prototypical Brooklyn cop hangout, Farrell's Bar & Grill—a misnomer, as there isn't actually a grill here—reputedly used to sell more Budweiser than anyplace else on the East Coast. The 77-year-old establishment still pours volume: Five bucks gets a recipient a 32-ounce Styrofoam "Farrellizer" of frigid Bud or Bud Light. The gentrification wars have been fought and lost in much of Kings County, but an old-guard Irishness reigns here in Windsor Terrace: The piercing overhead lighting, football fanaticism, and overwhelming testosterone (actress Shirley MacLaine famously broke a gender barrier in the '70s by arriving without a chaperone) make it inhospitable for the messenger-bag-and-clear-framed-eyewear set. On the Brooklynian message board, a poster described the Farrell's crowd as "early hominids." But you needn't wait for evolution—by intelligent design, these beers are portable, and Prospect Park is only a block away.
318 Grand Street (between Havemeyer and Marcy), Brooklyn, NY 11211, 718-486-9400, lodgenyc.com
In theory, those all-you-can-drink brunch specials are a brilliant way to chase away the wrenching shame from last night's mistakes and start the new day in a languid haze. In practice, a gallon of mimosas made from ratchet-ass sparkling white wine is a recipe for pulsating late-afternoon headaches. The solution? Lodge's delicious two-for-one Bloody Marys. Served weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in a rugged mason jar with a protruding celery stalk, they're peppery and potent. Like seemingly every other eatery that has sprung up in Williamsburg over the past few years, the bustling Lodge also offers neo-American fare fit for haughty lumberjacks, so refuel for a weekend of clearing imaginary brush off the Metropolitan Avenue Trail by tucking into a heap of pulled pork and grits or a stack of banana pancakes.