As I write this column in the late afternoon, the temperature outside is inching closer and closer to 100 degrees. I’m counting the minutes, though, because luckily, the hottest hour is also happy hour.
I don’t know if it’s climate change or the economy, but it seems like most new places come out of the gates with a happy hour, and now even many of the fancy spots and the old guard are catering to the sweating five o’clock masses. The planet might be totally screwed, but at least people keep finding new ways to feed each other during the warmest part of the day. Here are some hot (read: cool) spots with new or updated happy hours.
Locale never quite seemed to hit its stride, yet when it closed, I did not expect it to be replaced by a Florida-vibed chill-zone like Sweet Nothing. By nightfall, the tiny space inevitably feels crowded, even if (especially if) you’re only sharing it with one drunken patron. But at happy hour, you can suck down an $8 Baby Blue blendy (it tastes like blue curaçao and it’s made of ice, so what else do you need to know?) and slowly pick away at a slab of banana cake under a fluffy cloud of cool whipped cream. 4330 N Mississippi, happy hour: Mon-Fri 4-6 pm
Just down the street from Sweet Nothing is Quaintrelle, a restaurant and bar so effortlessly classy it’s hard to believe it was a mac-and-cheese restaurant just a couple of years ago. Happy hour manages not to betray that tone, and between the rummy Prohibition Punch, a daily classic cocktail ($6) or shot ($5), and beer and wine deals, you’ll forget about the heat before you know it. A $17 order of fried chicken may seem steep for happy hour, but its herbal, sweet aroma alone makes it unlike any other fried chicken around. Don’t sleep on the oysters, if they’re available—recently topped with green strawberry, jalapeño, and smoked roe, they’re some of the few oysters in town that are actually improved by the dressing, and at $2 a pop, you can’t affordnot to eat at least one. 3936 N Mississippi, happy hour: Wed-Sat 5-6:30 pm & last hour of service, all day Sunday
Another new Italian spot isn’t exactly breaking news, but a $6 negroni? That stops the presses. At Corzetti, you can get just that at happy hour. Pair it with a snack—like a rich chicken meatball on polenta or a lasagna sandwich (seems like overkill to me, but you do you)—and Corzetti’s small, spare space, combined with $2 off a glass of pretty Italian wine, starts to make the sun outside feel downright Mediterranean.1475 NE Prescott, Ste F, happy hour: daily 4-5 pm & last hour of service
Since there’s no avoiding the sun, there’s no better place to soak it up in than at Backyard Social. Their new menu includes pork ribs, a stuffed green chili, and grilled peaches with summer beans, but happy hour offers old standbys like a boat of crispy, unfussy fingerling potatoes, crushable bacon-wrapped dates, and the Wastelands, a 32-ounce mason jar packed with ice, vodka, sour cherry reduction, citrus, and a tangy raspberry vinegar shrub—at $10, it’s the most expensive cocktail on a staunchly affordable menu, although it is comically large. Bring your sunscreen, because you’re not going to be able to resist that patio.1914 N Killingsworth, happy hour: daily 3-6 pm
In Foster-Powell, happy hours abound, and among the newest is Char, a pizzeria with a bar using local spirits. Happy hour gets you 50 cents off slices, well drinks, wine, and beer, plus a buck off a large salad, and a $6 Fopo Lemonade—spiked with jalapeño-infused vodka, to stand up to the slices. Bonus: All the pizzas are named after cats, which are apparently mostly named after musicians like Johnny Cash (house sausage, red onion) and Mingus (caramelized onions, a lot of jalapeños), but keep an eye on the “feral cat”: a daily slice often worth taking a gamble on. 4144 SE 60th, happy hour: daily 2-5 pm
Happy hour at Paley’s Place? Why wouldn’t you just commit to proper dinner at one of Portland’s most famous restaurants? One word: cheeseburger. Throw some Gruyère on the five-ounce, $10 (okay, $12 with cheese) happy hour edition of this juicy beast, and add fries for $5 if you want. Even in this heat, it’s impossible to resist a hand-ground burger, cooked to perfection, with nothing but house ketchup and mustard aioli to muddy its meaty flavor. Fuck you, sun, I’m happy. 1204 NW 21st, happy hour: Mon-Thurs 5:30-6:30 pm & 9 pm-close; Fri-Sun 5-6:30 pm & 9:30 pm-close Fri-Sun