What if happy hour was TEN TIMES as long as its promise of 60 sweet sweet minutes of cheap drinks and food specials? That can happen for you, if you stick to Downtown DC on a Friday night. We’ve lined up your itinerary -- get ready to hit a different spot every hour for ten straight hours.
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3-4pm: Mango Tree
Start off at the buzzy 45-seat bar on the first floor of Mango Tree in CityCenterDC. The new Thai titan opted to keep things simple by pricing everything at $6. Margaritas, sangria, wine by the glass, Tiger beer... it’s all six bucks. So too are happy hour bites, like Northeastern sausage, chili flake calamari, and vegetable spring rolls.
4-5pm: Boss Shepherd’s
Settle onto a stool at this lime green lair for $5 wine, beer, and rail drinks or a $6 cocktail that’s consistently rotating. Whatever it is, it'll pair well with $1.25 East Coast oysters with all of the fixings or dollar clams. In addition to the happy hour specials, there’s a "bill of bar fare" eight lines deep boasting affordable bar snacks, like cast iron-aged Italian provolone with peppers and grilled bread ($10); shaved coppa ham with pickled eggs ($7); or Hamburg sliders with sweet onion and cheddar ($7). Think of this as your chance to try something other than Boss’s legendary fried chicken.
Jump start stop number three with a gourmet boilermaker consisting of draft Sapporo and a shot of shōchū for $6.50. Just don’t embarrass yourself by dropping your shot into your beer while chanting. There’s no such thing as a shōchū bomb (yet!). Move on to discounted nibbles ($2-$5), like carrot fritters, chicken karaage, and beef tongue skewers. Order edamame for the wet noodle in your friend group. Then, an eight-ounce carafe of Sho Chiku Bai, Daikaya’s house sake.
6-7pm: Denson Liquor Bar
What’s that? You’re fading? Man up, happy hour cowboy, because the sun has barely set. Drop down into Denson Liquor Bar for the next installment of discounted bivalves. A half dozen runs $8; a full dozen, $15. Wash them down with $6 beer and wine, or more impressively, $9 cocktails that typically run closer to $14. Eight oysters and a Negroni in, you’ll feel recharged.
On to SEI for imaginative $6 bar food and sushi, like wasabi guacamole, kobe sliders, and hand rolls. It’s a bit bright in there, so be prepared to find out what your friends really look like after four hours of happy hour gluttony. Drink-wise, you’ll find $7 cocktails like The Silver Samurai, or the "Faux Punishment," which thankfully predated Fifty Shades of Grey.
8-9pm: The Bottom Line
Think of this like halftime. The only thing you need to worry about is ordering cheap beer and people-watching. The Bottom Line offers "beat the clock" happy hour on Fridays, meaning beer starts dirt-cheap and escalates hourly to... still dirt-cheap. During your visit from 8-9pm, Miller Lite bottles are $2. At this point in the night, you’ll understand that whole "less filling" side of the argument.
9-10pm: McCormick & Schmick’s (F Street)
These. Prices. Are. Insane. Especially at such a prime hour as 9pm. Would you like a bowl of black mussels or Kobe beef-style carpaccio for $4.99? Yeah, we thought so. If you’re craving something warm and gooey, there are also $3.99 pretzels with cheese sauce or a $5.99 blackened chicken quesadilla. Drink specials are generous too: $4.50 domestic drafts; $5 import and craft drafts; $4 well spirits; $6 wine; $6 margaritas and mojitos; and finally, $7 martinis (of the '90s cosmo, appletini, lemon drop variety).
10-11pm: City Tap House
Use this as your last chance to fill up on something substantial, because these snacks are pretty much designed for someone that’s been sipping since 3pm: bacon popcorn & candied peanuts; duck fat fries with truffle aioli; fried pickles with Cajun remoulade; and skillet fried shishito peppers. They’re all $7-8. Select craft beers are available for $5, or you can get a beer and a shot for $7.
11pm-12am: Old Ebbitt Grill
Get in your last half-priced aphrodisiacs at Old Ebbitt Grill while turning the conversation to the historic gravitas of the establishment. Ask, exactly how many marathon happy hour soldiers have come before us to slurp oysters? They’re half price, and you’ll occasionally find other raw bar specials.
12-1am: Clyde’s Gallery Place
Consider this your happy hour nightcap. The edges of the room are fuzzy, you’ve learned more about your friends in 10 hours than you ever thought possible, and all you want is one more drink to toast your success. Get it at Clyde’s Gallery Place, where mixed drinks are $5, along with some wine -- if that’s your kind of thing. Congratulations, you made it.
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1. Mango Tree929 H St NW, Washington
2. Boss Shepherd's1299 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington
3. Daikaya705 6th St NW, Washington
4. Denson Liquor Bar600 F St NW, Washington
5. SEI444 7th St NW, Washington
6. Bottom Line1716 I St NW, Washington
7. McCormick & Schmick's901 F St NW, Washington
8. City Tap House901 I St NW, Washington DC
9. Old Ebbitt Grill675 15th St NW, Washington
10. Clyde's of Gallery Place707 7th St NW, Washington
Mango Tree draws inspiration from Thailand's history and tradition to bring patrons an atmosphere and cuisine that'll make them feel like they're in the heart of Bangkok. The Thai titan also opted to keep things simple by pricing everything on their happy hour menu at $6, as if you need more incentive.
Located in Penn Quarter, this new Creative Eats-helmed restaurant offers up farm-to-table Southern-inspired American fare. Come for the food, (Pot Pie Fritters are a must) and stay for the extensive, high-quality drink menu.
Don’t let the wait for this Chinatown ramen shop deter you: it’s more than worth it for the chewy noodles imported from Japan and the chicken, pork, and beef Chintan stock that’s cooked over 16 hours for extra richness. An unsuspecting standout among the Sapporo-style ramen on offer is the vegan version topped with Brussels sprouts, snow peas, carrots, and braised shiitake mushrooms. As if the ramen didn’t already, Daikaya’s wooden accents, dangling lightbulbs, and blue- and yellow-striped walls will have you feeling warm and cozy.
It takes a little effort to find this bar that is seemingly in the basement of FUEL Pizza. But, it’s worth it. Look for a light globe that reads "Denson" and climb down a set of stairs. Your feet slapping the metal will alert the doorman (BALLER!) to swing the door open and welcome you into a sexy, boozy lair. Cocktails like Sazeracs and Negronis are the go-to here (especially during happy hour, when they’re $9 instead of $14). Along with your libations, there are snacks like steak tartare, Greek-inspired lamb meatballs, and even a green curry chicken pot pie.
This sushi spot in Penn Quarter reinvents favorites for one-of-a-kind dishes and sides you'll be too curious about to not try, like wasabi guacamole and the fish n' chips roll. Enough said.
The Bottom Line isn't your typical neighborhood bar. Where else can you find a "beat the clock" happy hour on Fridays? At this Downtown spot, Fridays mean the beer starts dirt-cheap and escalates hourly to... still dirt-cheap.
An established chain since the '70s, McCormick & Schmick's has been dishing seafood goodness for a while. Their happy hour gets a great rep too, with black mussels or Kobe beef-style carpaccio for $4.99.
With 60+ brews available (40 via tap), City Tap House is your destination for craft beer enlightenment. With a sizable menu of bites like brick oven pizza, Craftwiches, and three different kinds of mussels, you can settle in for the long haul and taste a range of brews.
Depending on your tastes, it will either be extremely appealing or off-putting that the Old Ebbitt Grill is the oldest saloon in Washington, once frequented by Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Roosevelt, and McKinley. Just steps away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Old Ebbitt’s Beaux-Arts façade begs you to enter for a cocktail, while its mahogany and velvet booths and bars set in marble, brass, and beveled glass implore you to stay for a few more as you imagine what kind of political secrets and scandals were shared here. As you’re doing your best Woodward and Bernstein impressions, munch on breakfast, lunch, brunch (if you’re there on a weekend), or dinner. The menus certainly have a Southern slant (chicken and waffles, crab cakes, shrimp and grits), though you can also opt for house-made cannelloni, pappardelle, and ravioli or flash-fried swordfish tacos.