The ultimate happy hour

More than 100 drink deals for brewpub bros, wine-bar buffs and local-dive denizens

Photo By Anne Stokes

Tuesday night at Midtown’s Rubicon Brewing Company is like the United Nations of happy hours, a time when artists tipple brews while drawing on coasters, bros down lagers and tell jokes to beautiful women, and the neighborhood crew crowds at the bar to share stories from the week past.

It’s $2.50 night for select craft beers, so it’s packed on this late February evening. The weather has decided to cooperate for the moment—not raining, not freezing—so the patio is full, in addition to standing-room-only at the bar and nary a vacant table.

One might argue that Rubicon’s happy hour is nearly ultimate. The brewery’s stout—one of five beers priced at a discount—is smooth, nutty and warms you up like a hundred-dollar North Face parka. The people are friendly and the service excellent. There’s nothing that can diminish the happiness factor. Chalk it up as one of the best happy hours in town.

This begs the question: What makes a happy hour ultimate? There are so many things to consider.

Historically, happy hours came about in the 1920s, when the Navy would throw parties on ships. Later, during Prohibition, the speakeasy made cocktail hours popular at underground dens of debauchery. Booze later became legal, again, but the happy hour stuck.

In the 1980s, groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving led a grassroots campaign against happy hours, and—while never completely fading away—pre-dinner drinking went out of fashion. And rightly so: Remember, always drink in moderation and never drive drunk.

But now, amid the worst economic crisis since Prohibition era, happy hours are back. But this time it’s not about binge drinking and getting plastered; it’s just about affordable fun. That said, people are discriminating about where they’ll spend hard-earned cash. Thusly, there are happy-hour rules.

To begin, cost is foremost. At downtown bars such as Flame Club and the Monte Carlo Club, bartenders say it’s happy hour all the time, and they’re right: Wells are cheap. But deals abound elsewhere, too, so there are other considerations.

Buzzkill is one of them. There cannot be the illusion of a deal, only to feel betrayed once the bill arrives. Pabst Blue Ribbon must be $1 to be “happy.” Wells and drafts cannot exceed $3, unless you’re paying for ambience. Even the mere thought of having one’s wallet busted ruins the “good times” potential.

And finally, there’s the “living-room factor.” Some of us like bonhomie and laughs—the proverbial Lazy Boy recliner feng shui environs—so Club Raven on the east side is a good bet. Those with swankier digs might like Mix Downtown, a new club on L Street.

But I dig Rubicon’s lack of pretense. And perhaps that’s what makes happy hours so great: It takes all kinds.

Thus, the following Ultimate Happy Hour guide.

Azul Mexican Food and Tequila Bar
1050 20th St.
(916) 447-4040
Happy Hour: every day, 4-7pm
$2 off all margaritas, $1 off beers

Backdoor Lounge
1112 Firehouse Alley
(916) 442-5751
Happy Hour: all the time
Drinks are as “cheap as they are”

Back Wine Bar
25075 Blue Ravine Rd. in Folsom
(916) 986-9100
Happy Hour: varies
W night wine tasting and 25 percent off all food

Beach Hut Deli
2406 J St.
(916) 442-1400
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-7pm
$1-$2 off beers, $5.95 Red Bull/vodkas and margaritas

Bistro 33 Midtown
16th and K streets
(916) 233-3633
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-7pm
$3 menu, $15 mojito pitchers on Tuesdays

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery
1200 Roseville Pky.
(916) 580-2100

3531 N. Freeway Blvd.
(916) 570-1327

2730 E. Bidwell St.
(916) 404-2000

Elk Grove
9237 Laguna Springs Dr.
(916) 753-1500

Happy Hour: half off Mini Pizzas, $2 off appetizers, M-F, 3-7pm, Su-Th, 10pm-close; $1 off all draft beer and cocktails, Su-Th, 10-close.

Blue Nami
1465 Eureka Rd.
(916) 787-1177
Happy Hour: Tu-W, 10pm-close
Half off beers and house sake; half off all house sushi rolls every day

Brew It Up!
801 14th St.
(916) 441-3000
Happy Hour: every day 4-6pm; 10pm-midnight, Th-Sa
$3 appetizers, $1 off beers, wells, cocktails; Furlough Fridays, 11am-4pm, $2 drafts; fire up a kettle between 2-3:30pm M, W, Th or F, get a 20 percent discount on your full-priced brew

The Broiler Steakhouse
1201 K St., Ste. 100
(916) 444-3444
Happy Hour: M-F, 3:30-6:30pm
Entire pub menu half off
Martini Mondays: $5; In-to-the-well Tuesdays: $3; Beer Blast Wednesdays: all 16oz pints, $3; Off the Wall Thursdays: any call or premium drinks $2 off; Fine Wine Fridays: wines by the glass half off

Capitol Dawg
1226 20th St.
(916) 444-1226
Happy Hour:
M, 3pm-close, 88 cent 12-ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon; Tu, $2 hot dogs, $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon, $2 scoops of ice cream from 5-8:30pm

Capitol Garage
1500 K St.
(916) 444-3633
Happy Hour: M, 3-10pm, Tu, 3-7pm; W-Th, 3-7pm and 9-11pm; F, 3-7pm; Sa-Su, 4-7pm; $1 off wines, $1 off drafts, $3 margaritas, $3.50 Long Islands, $2.75 wells, $4 Jager or Car Bombs, amazing food specials

Celestin’s Caribbean Restaurant
1815 K St.
(916) 444-2423
Happy Hour: Tu-Su, 4-7pm
$2 Buds, $2.50 Red Stripes, sangria and margarita deals, $3 appetizers

Chevy’s Fresh Mex
1369 Garden Hwy.
(916) 649-0390
Happy Hour: every day, 3-7pm
50 percent off all appetizers in the cantina

1117 11th St.
(916) 447-8900
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-7pm
$3.50 drafts, $4.50 house wines, $5-and-up appetizers, cocktail lounge and outdoor patio with view of Capitol building

Cloud9 Restaurant and Ultra Lounge
963 Pleasant Grove, Ste. 100, in Roseville
(916) 797-2269
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6pm
$3 dollar bottle beer/wells, half off appetizer menu, half off selected bottles of wine, drinks specials, martini and specialty drink menu

Corner Pocket Sports Bar
7777 Sunrise Blvd., Ste. 1400
(916) 722-CLUB
Happy Hour: every day, 11-7pm
$3 domestic drafts, $3 drink and shooter specials, $2 off all burgers and sandwiches, $1 off appetizers

the Cosmopolitan
1000 K St.
(916) 446-9800
Happy Hour: Tu-Su, 3:30-5:30pm
$3 eats and drinks

Country Club Saloon
4007 Taylor Rd. in Loomis
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6pm
$2 wells, $2 drafts, $3 imports, $9 domestic pitchers

Crawdad’s River Cantina
1375 Garden Hwy
(916) 929-2268
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6pm
$2 tacos
$3 draft beers
$3 well cocktails
$4 house wines
Every Su, 11am-2pm, $2 Bloody Marys

Dad’s Kitchen
2968 Freeport Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 443-3237
Happy Hour: every day, 2-5pm
$1 off beer and wine, plus food specials

The Depot
2001 K St.
(916) 441-6823
Happy Hour: every day <nt>M, free pool and two-for-one cocktails

Dragonfly Restaurant
1809 Capitol Ave.
(916) 498-9200
Happy Hour: Tu-F, 3-6pm; Su, 5-9pm
Half off selected menu and appetizers, $2 drafts, house wines; half off sushi and $2 beers on Sundays

El Patron Bar and Grill
6601 Folsom Blvd.
(916) 455-8945
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6pm; M-Tu, 9pm-close
$1 tacos, $2 Coors and Bud Lights, half off appetizers, $4 Mi Casa Margaritas, $2 off wine

2000 K St.
(916) 448-7798
Happy Hour:
W, 8pm-midnight, 75 cent drafts and wells; F, 7-9pm, 75 cent wells and drafts; Su, $2 double wells, $1 drafts all day

Fanny Ann’s Saloon
1023 Second St.
(916) 441-0505
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-8pm
$1 off pitchers, drafts, plus shot deals

58 Degrees & Holding Co.
1217 18th St.
(916) 442-5858
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6pm
$5 wines, $10 flights, half off featured small plates

Fox & Goose
1001 R St.
(916) 443-8825
Happy Hour: M-Sa, 4-6pm
$3.50 16-ounce pints, $3 well drinks, free bar snacks

Fuzio Universal Bistro
828 J St.
(916) 442-2310
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6pm
$3 off appetizers, $3 drafts

Gallagher’s Irish Pub
1201 K St.
(916) 444-3444
Happy Hour: M-F, 3:30-6:30pm
Entire pub menu half off
Martini Mondays: $5; Into-the-well Tuesdays: $3; Beer Blast Wednesdays: all 16-ounce pints, $3; Off the Wall Thursdays: any call or premium drinks $2 off; Fine Wine Fridays: wines by the glass half off

Golden Bear
2326 K St.
(916) 441-2242
Happy Hour: daily 4-7pm
$1 off any drink, two tacos and a Miller High Life for $5

Hamburger Patties
1630 J St.
(916) 441-4340
Happy Hour: varies
M-F, 4-7pm, half off appetizers; Tu-Th, $2.75 wells, $3 drafts; F-Sa, $1 wells and drafts

Hangar 17
1630 S St.
(916) 447-1717
Happy Hour: 4-6pm, M-F; 10-11pm, S & Sa 2-for-1 drinks; half off select appetizers

Hoppy Brewing Company
6300 Folsom Blvd.
(916) 451-4677
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6pm; all day Monday. $2.75 pints $10 pitchers

Ink Eats & Drinks
2730 N St.
(916) 456-2800
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-7pm; Th, 10pm-midnight
$3 drafts beers; $3 appetizers; $3 well drinks; Sa, 3-6pm, $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts; Su night “industry night,” $3 drafts and well, $4 Jameson’s, $5 vodka Red Bulls; featured $5 top shelf cocktails every day.

Islands Restaurant
Elk Grove
8531 Bond Rd.
(916) 478-4050

2455 Iron Point Rd.
(916) 983-4092

1902 Taylor Rd.
(916) 772-5044

Happy Hour: M-F, 4-7pm
Free chips and salsa, half off appetizers, $1 off booze, beer, wine

Jamie’s Bar & Grill
427 Broadway
(916) 442-4044
Happy Hour: 3:30pm-until the food is gone, M-F
Complimentary treats for patrons buying drinks

2416 16th St.
(916) 441-3945
Happy Hour: every day from 4-6pm
$1 off beers, $2.50 cheese pizza and $3 veggie and pepperoni

JB’s Lounge
Inside the Red Lion
1401 Arden Way
(916) 922-8041
Happy Hour: 4-6pm, M-F; 10pm-close, Th-Sa
Drink specials

Johnny Garlic’s
10505 Fairway Dr.
(916) 789-2000
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-6:30pm
$5 appetizers; $3 mojitos, well drinks, house wines, domestic pints; $3.50 micro pints; $4 lemon drops, cosmos, margaritas, and martinis, $8 Bud Light pitchers

Joshua Pup’s
617 Munroe St.
(916) 972-7877
Happy Hour: W-Sa, noon-9pm
$3 wells and drafts

Kamon Japanese Restaurant
2210 16th St.
(916) 443-8888
Happy Hour: M-F, 5-7pm
$3 drafts, $3.50 wells, $2 sake bombs, $4 chardonnay, $4.50 cabernet, sushi roll deals

Kennel Club
5821 Auburn Blvd.
(916) 339-9907
Happy Hour: every day, 4-6pm
$2 wells, $3 beers, $3 Long Islands, daily drink specials

L Wine Lounge and Urban Kitchen
1801 L St.
(916) 443-6970
Happy Hour: “‘UNSCREW’ Winter 2009,” 4-6pm
White and red wines, $6
Winter prepared cocktails, $8; other “Usuals” cocktails, $6
Bites from the Kitchen: $3-$6 small plates, like fried Calamari or pizzetas

Level Up Lounge
2431 J St.
(916) 448-8768
Happy Hour: Tu-Sa, 5-8pm
$4.50 call drinks, $6.50 signature drinks, $3 imported beers, $2.25 domestics, $5.50 house wines, $6 food menu

Lounge on 20
1050 20th St.
(916) 443-6620
Happy Hour: M, 50 percent of bottle wines with entrée; Tu, $5 artisan cocktails; W, $10 tasting of three wines; Th, $5 bubbles, $5 absinthe; Sa, 5-7pm, $10 for three bubbles

Lucca Restaurant
1615 J St.
(916) 669-5300
Happy Hour: every day, 3-6pm
$3 house wines, $3.15 drafts, $3.45 mojito, $4 Cosmo, $4.45 house martini

Mandango’s Sports Bar & Grill
1310 Fulton Ave.
(916) 487-2984
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-7pm
$3 on traditional, melon, peach or watermelon margaritas; all wells; house wines or domestic drafts; cran-raspberry kamikazes; white grape cosmopolitans; Wiki Wakis; Palm Beach; $3 appetizers

Marilyn’s on K
1177 K St.
(916) 446-4361
Happy Hour: Tu-F, 3-7pm
$1 off well drinks ($3.50 price after discount)
$1 off drafts ($3-$4 price after discount)
$3 domestics

1116 15th St.
(916) 492-1960
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-7pm
$6.50 martinis, $5 wines, $3.50 domestics, $5 wells, half off all small plates

McCormick and Schmick’s
1111 J St.
(916) 442-8200
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-6pm
$1.95-$4.95 menu plus daily drink specials

The Melting Pot
814 15th St.
(916) 443-2347
Happy Hour: M-F
Two drinks—wine, beer—and a pot of fondue for $22

Mercantile Saloon
1928 L St.
(916) 447-0792
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-7pm
$1 drafts, $2.50 wells

1530 J St.
(916) 447-2111
Happy Hour: 2-5pm
$5 drinks, appetizers and rolls; plus $3 menu and beers

Mix Downtown
1531 L St.
(916) 442-8811
Happy Hour: Tu-F, 4-7pm
Half-price bites: all small plates half off, $5 wells, $5 wines, $6.50 martinis

Monkey Bar
2730 Capitol Ave.
(916) 442-8490
Happy Hour: every day, 3-7pm
$2 wells and domestic drafts

Monte Carlo Club
1430 S St.
(916) 447-6437
Happy Hour: all the time
“Lower drink prices than anyone in town”

3348 S St.
(916) 455-1220
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-6pm
$2 wells, Bud Lites and kamikazes; $3 garlic fries, potato skins and bottle caps

1629 Capitol Ave.
(916) 441-1114
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-7pm
$3 wells, $3 drafts, $3 appetizers

Nishiki Sushi
1501 16th St.
(916) 446-3629
Happy Hour: M, $2 sake bombs

Old Tavern Bar and Grill
1510 20th St.
(916) 448-5837
Happy Hour: every day, 6am-noon
Two-for-one wells; every day, 6pm-close, $1 grilled cheese

On the River
4350 Riverside Blvd.
(916) 379-5959
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-7pm
$3.50 Perry Creek wines, $3 drafts, $3.50 premium drafts, $3.50 wells, $5.95, $1.50 fresh shucked oysters; Shuck ’Em and Shake ’Em at the bar on Th, 5pm-close, $1-$1.25 oysters, $6 martinis and cocktails

On The Y
670 Fulton Ave.
(916) 487-3731
Happy Hour:
$2 Rolling Rocks, $2 PBRs, $3 wells until 8pm; M half off industry nights, W $2 and $5 Patron shots; no cover karaoke Th and Su

1806 Capitol Ave.
(916) 447-8646
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-6pm
$4 selected appetizers, $3 drafts, house wines, wells

Piatti Restaurant
3003 Douglas Blvd. in Roseville
(916) 786-5678
Happy Hour: every day, 3-6pm in the bar
Wines from $4.50-$5.50; $6 Hornitos margarita with Grand Marnier; $6 you-call-it martinis; $4.50 wells; $3.50 drafts

Pine Cove Tavern
509 29th St.
(916) 446-3624
Happy Hour: every day, noon-7pm
$2.50 wells; $3.50 double wells, $3 kamikazes and Cosmos, $1 off 60 ounce beer pitchers

The Press Club
2030 P St.
(916) 444-7914
Happy Hour: M-F 4-7pm
$2 24-ounce PBRs, $3 wells, $3 domestics

Pyramid Alehouse Brewery
1029 K St.
(916) 498-9800
Happy Hour: M-F, 3:30-6:30pm
30 percent off appetizers, $3.50 pints, $10.50 pitchers with $8.95 pizzas, $2 pints after 5pm on Tu

Referee’s Sports Bar & Grill
7951 Auburn Blvd. in Citrus Heights
(916) 726-7210
Happy Hour: every day, 11am-1pm and 4-6pm
50 cents off all wells and domestics, $2 Coors draft, $6 Coors pitchers, $2.50 Rum Runner and Parrot Punch, kitchen specials

1431 R St.
(916) 930-9191
Happy Hour: every day, 3-7pm
$2 wells and domestic drafts

River City Brewing Company
545 Downtown Plaza 1115
(916) 447-BREW
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6pm
$3.25 appetizers, house wines, and microbrew pints

River’s Edge Bar & Grill
2125 W. Capitol Ave.
(916) 374-9155
Happy Hour: M-Th, noon-3pm

Riverside Clubhouse
2633 Riverside Blvd.
(916) 448-9988
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-7pm
$3.50 drafts, wells, house wines; Th, 9pm-midnight, $2.50 drink specials, $3.95 menu

Round Corner Tavern
2333 S St.
(916) 451-4682
Happy Hour: every day, 5-7pm
Fifty cents off all beers, $6 PBR pitchers

Roxy Restaurant & Bar
2381 Fair Oaks Blvd.
(916) 489-2000
Happy Hour: every day, 3-6pm
$3 cocktails, including The Clementine (orange vodka and a bit of juice); $3.50 well drinks; $2 beers; $3.50 wines

Rubicon Brewing Company
2004 Capitol Ave.
(916) 448-7032
Happy Hour:
M, $3.50 pints, $2 tacos after 5pm; Tu, $2.50 selected pints all day, all night

Sacramento Brewing Company
2713 El Paseo Ln.
(916) 485-4677
Happy Hour: every day, 3-6pm
$1 off all house beers and $2 off all appetizers

Scott’s Seafood Bar & Grill
545 Munroe St.
(916) 489-1822
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-7pm
$3.50 Perry Creek wines, $3 drafts, $3.50 premium drafts, $3.50 wells, $5.95, $1.50 fresh shucked oysters; Shuck ’Em and Shake ’Em at the bar on Th, 5pm-close, $1-$1.25 oysters, $6 martinis and cocktails

5940 Sperry Dr. in Citrus Heights
(916) 863-7465
Happy Hour: every day, 3-7pm
$2.50 wells, $2.50 Bud/Bud Lite, $2.50 SOBs; Th, $2 vodka/Red Bulls until 9:30pm

The Sheepherder Inn Steakhouse
11275 Folsom Blvd.
(916) 638-4584
Happy Hour: every day, 2-7pm
$3 draughts, $3.95 wines, food specials

Sheraton Grand Sacramento
1230 J St.
(916) 447-1700
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-7pm
$1 off all beers and wells, $5-$8 martinis, wines and cocktails

1415 L St.
(916) 440-8888
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-6:30pm
$3 eats and drinks

7890 La Riviera Dr.
(916) 381-4800
Happy Hour: every day, 9pm-close
Including $1 off vodka/Red Bulls and $1.50 drafts on Tu

Stoney Inn
1320 Del Paso Blvd.
(916) 927-6023
Happy Hour: every day
F, $5 prime rib, $3 Jack ’n’ Coke and 50 cent Coors or Bud

Straw Hat Pizza
4441 E. Commerce Way in Natomas
(916) 515-1515
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-6pm
Half off appetizers, $2 domestic pints, $3 import pints

The Streets of London Pub
1804 J St.
(916) 498-1388
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-6pm
Discounted draught pints and pitchers

Sweetwater Restaurant and Bar
5641 J St.
(916) 731-8857
Happy Hour: M-F, 2-6pm
$2.50 wells, house wines, pints on tap and bottle, half off appetizers

Tallac Lounge
3982 60th St.
(916) 455-2139
Happy Hour: every day, 3-6pm
$2 wells

Tamaya Sushi and Grill
2131 J St.
(916) 498-8388
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6pm
Appetizers: $2.99, Wells: $4, Sake Bombs: $1.99, Tap beers: $3

TGI Friday’s
1229 Howe Ave.
(916) 925-5766
Happy Hour: M-F 4-7pm, 9pm-close
Varies, but sometimes $4 margaritas/Long Islands, $3 premium pints, $2 domestic pints, $1 off spirits

3 Fires Lounge
1501 L St.
(916) 267-6823
Happy Hour: every day, 4-6pm

Tokyo Fro’s at Dream Ultra Lounge
908 15th St.
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-8pm
Half off all sushi rolls, drafts and cocktails

Tokyo Fro’s Rockin’ Sushi Bar
2224 Fair Oaks Blvd.
Happy Hour: M-Sa, 3-6pm
Half off all sushi rolls, drafts and cocktails

Torch Club
904 15th St.
(916) 443-2797
Happy Hour: every day, noon-8pm, free music daily at 5pm
$3 domestic beers, $3 drafts, $3.50 imports, $4 wells, $6 premium drink specials

Train Station Supper Club
1100 Orlando Ave.
(916) 722-2405
Happy Hour: every day except Sa, 4-6pm and 10-11:59pm
$2 domestic drafts, $3 wells, free appetizers

1212 Howe Ave.
(916) 564-5333
Happy Hour: M-F, 5-7pm
$1.50-$3.33 special menu including oysters in a half shell, mini Kobe burgers, plus drink specials

Trino’s Lounge
1443 Fulton Ave.
(916) 978-9000
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-7pm
$2.25 drafts, $3 wells

Tuk Tuk Restaurant
4630 Natomas Blvd.
(916) 575-7957
Happy Hour: M-F, 4-7pm

Uncle Vito’s Slice of NY
1501 16th St.
(916) 444-3699
Happy Hour: every day, 4-6pm
Beer and a slice for $5

Vega’s Nightclub & Sports Bar
910 Second St.
(916) 448-1793
Happy Hour: every day, 5-8pm
$1 Rolling Rock drafts, $2 Bud drafts, $3 premium drafts, $3 Vega’s cocktails

Whiskey Wild
1910 Q St.
Happy Hour: every day, 4-7pm
$2 tacos, $3 all you can eat chips ’n’ salsa, $3 giant soft pretzel, $1 off drafts, $1 off wells