Bartender Molly Knooihuisen serves customers at Delphine restaurant… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
How early is too early to start drinking? These days, the line seems to fall somewhere just after lunch. But fortunately, plenty of popular and even high-end destinations have introduced under-the-radar happy hours that make unorthodox imbibing seem like a good fiscal plan. Here's where the smart shoppers are going to be drinking.
Between 5 and 7 p.m. every day, Delphine transforms into a raw-bar fire sale. The selection is near absurd for a posh bar in a high-end hotel: $1 "East Coast" oysters, clams and New Zealand mussels; larger, $2 "West Coast" oysters; and a $3 melange of whole olives doused in rosemary and sun-dried tomatoes that you can almost make a meal of. Drinkwise, sparkling rose clocks in at $5 a glass, alongside a Pinot Grigio and a fruity house vodka cocktail. Even the cognitive dissonance of drinking a $4 Pabst Blue Ribbon out of a classy pilsner Pilsener glass feels decadent. 6250 Hollywood Blvd., L.A. 5-7 p.m. Daily. Restaurantdelphine.com.
A beer-bust happy hour smack in the middle of prime drinking time on weekends? Take that, Econ 101. This pan-Asian noodle house in the maw of the Old Bank District usually offers quite reasonable takes on nouveaux staples like peanut-sesame Dan Dan noodles and kimchi pork noodle soup. But at the time one may be prone to be drinking anyway — 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday — pints of Kirin draft and Sapporo plummet to $2. It's so counterintuitive, it must be some kind of evil genius plot hatched against your waistline and liver. 118 W. 4th St., L.A. 11 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday-Fri. urbannoodlela.com
Happy hour was invented to start separating you from your money and sobriety at an earlier hour than you'd planned. But at the Silver Lake indie rock venue, it's about keeping you there until you've bought out a whole crate of band merch. Well cocktails and draft beer are half off at midnight when the show is over, and in the former "smoquarium" upstairs, pints of the undisputed champagne of beers (Miller High Life) are just a couple bucks. Admission's free then too, so if you're a cheapskate booze hound and incorrigible after-set-snark-talker, you can do both after the witching hour strikes. 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., L.A. Midnight-2 a.m. nightly. Thesatellitela.com.
There are places that do barnburning happy hours, and there are places with zinc bartops and staff "fromagers." And then there is Fig, a searingly expensive hotel lounge that, for three near-mythical hours a week, hacks its prices in half for the plebes — for the whole menu. Try Ray Garcia's evocative Clementine-fennel salad or a curated domestic cheese flight for $9, or entire bottles of wine and craft ales for about what you'd pay for one glass elsewhere. The rule goes for everything — even the High Life knocks down to $1.50, which makes ordering a delicious affront to one's dignity and maybe the cheapest beer in the neighborhood. 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. 5-6 p.m. Tues.-Thurs. figsantamonica.com.