By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
With the temperatures rising just as sharply as discretionary income is falling, we could all use a drink. Preferably cold. Definitely cheap.
Thankfully, they're pretty easy to find. Happy hours have become all but mandatory at bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
"I'm not sure happy hours necessarily drive business, because everybody does them," says Veritas Wine Room co-owner Brooks Anderson. But he has no doubt that discounts and special promotions increase the number of customers. Veritas' Monday night business has quintupled since the shop introduced half-price wine by the glass. "People definitely seem to be looking for value. They want to go out and have a good time, but they're certainly watching their dollars as they do it."
The Libertine Bar co-owner Simon McDonald agrees; the Libertine has been packed on Tuesdays ever since the gastro-pub began offering half-priced food on Tuesdays. His bar's happy hours, he says, are intended to get people to come early and stay for dinner. "One thing is to get people in, and then they're like, 'Ah, we're here, might as well get something to eat.'" And whether a customer intends to stay after happy hour ends, they often do at places with a steady base of regulars, as more familiar faces trickle in after work and friends are encouraged to stay for just one more.
Since the cocktail-crazy Prohibition years, happy hours have traditionally encompassed post-work, pre-dinner hours, and many Dallas bars stick to the conventional 4 to 7 p.m. window. But others reach later into the night or offer "reverse happy hours" with post-dinner drink deals in addition to traditional happy hours. According to Lieutenant Jeff Gladden of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Enforcement Division, this is perfectly legal: Bars can have multiple happy hours as long as discounts end at 11 p.m.
"When you open for business today, if you open with a drink at a particular price and at any time later reduce the price, it has to go up to the original price at 11 p.m.," he says.
Murkier are TABC marketing regulations on promotions "reasonably calculated to result in excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages by consumers." Such regulations prevent two-for-one drink prices or deals where a second drink is discounted with purchase of a first, Gladden says. Yet somehow, such rules don't prohibit sale of pitchers or buckets of beers.
Yeah, it's confusing. Even Anderson admits he doesn't fully grasp all the legal issues surrounding happy hours. And that's saying something—not only does he have a wine shop, but he's an attorney representing clients in the food and beverage industry. Need a drink while you try to wrap your head around (or ignore) the intricacies of Texas alcohol code? Here are a few places to start. Check out our Happy Hours app (see "We're So App-y") for a more comprehensive list.
Beer Joints with Benefits
Flying Saucer on the Lake
4821 Bass Pro Drive, Garland • 972-226-0725 • beerknurd.com
The new Lake Ray Hubbard location of the Flying Saucer chain (which also includes Addison and Fort Worth franchises) is the first to offer seafood, which presents a new challenge for a beer lover looking to find the perfect hefeweizen, IPA, porter, schwarzbier or Belgian tripel from some 200 brews to go with a meal. During happy hour, upgrade to a 23-oz. "Biggie" glass of any draft for the price of a pint, or take a chance on one of the $2.75 "Fire Sale" selections. Or you could just order a Bud Light, which would be like going to a prime steakhouse and ordering chicken.
Happy hours: Monday through Thursday 4-7 p.m.; Friday 4-8 p.m.
The Ginger Man
2718 Boll St. • 214-754-8771 • gingermanpub.com
If you're the kind of beer lover who absolutely must try every craft brewery's special release you can get your hands on, then you're probably already a regular at The Ginger Man in Uptown (or its sister locations in Plano and Cowtown). We lost count of the draft taps at 60, and there are dozens of additional beers available by the bottle. Try something new during happy hour for 50 cents off your pint, or a pitcher reduced by $2.
Happy hours: Monday through Friday 4-7 p.m.
The Libertine Bar
2101 Greenville Ave. • 214-824-7900 • libertinebar.com
The Libertine didn't earn its Best of Dallas™ nods for bar, beer bar and bar food for nothing. A creative—but not overwhelming—selection of ales and lagers make it a great hangout for brewhounds, especially on Texas Beer Nights (Wednesdays) when all Texas beers are $2.50, or Thursday's keep-the-glass pint nights featuring a different beer each week. Otherwise, take $1 off any beer, wine or liquor drink during happy hour. That even applies on Tuesdays, when already reasonably priced menu items—steamed mussels and fries, steak au poivre, cheese boards and more—are half-price.
Happy hours: Monday through Friday 4-7 p.m.
The Meddlesome Moth
1621 Oak Lawn Ave. • 214-628-7900 • mothinthe.net
With a mind-boggling array of taps ranging from Belgian quadrupel ales to intensely hopped West Coast microbrews, the Meddlesome Moth disproves the notion that beer is the poor man's drink. Fortunately, during happy hour the Moth sets the price for about 15 select brews at $4, plus one or two varieties at $3—cheap enough to leave you cash for a savory rabbit, chicken or lamb pie. And when we say "beer," we're not talking Coors Light—in fact, if you're looking for beers you recognize from Super Bowl ads, look elsewhere. Wine (as if you're going to drink fermented grape juice here) is $6 a glass.