The phrase “happy hour” may have originated during the U.S. Prohibition when the nationwide ban on drinking alcohol caused a flurry of illegal “cocktail hours” (a.k.a. happy hours). People desperate to wet their whistles sipped in secret at speakeasies before having dinner at a restaurant that could not serve any beer, wine, or cocktails.
After the law was lifted, it seems like the drinks-before-dinner routine stuck and only got better. Fast forward to the current happy hour scene where most restaurants that participate usually offer discounts on selected alcoholic beverages and food!
While happy hour seems to be primarily American, here are three LA-area restaurants that do it with European élan. You get it right?
Low-Cost Happy Hour + High-Class European Elegance = Happy Eurocanas!
Bar Bouchon, Beverly Hills
When translated, the French word “Bouchon” simply means cork but there is nothing simple about Thomas Keller’s Bar Bouchon. Although more laid back compared to Keller’s adjoining Bouchon Bistro, expect to see Parisian refinement when you step into Bar Bouchon – everything from a mirrored bar to ornate tiles, even suited and booted bartenders.
The only thing lacking here are full prices during happy hour. Bar Bouchon’s happy hour menu includes $4 draft beers, $5 wines, $2 oysters, and $6 burrata crostini. In fact, you can order everything on the food list for about $30.
The most expensive items on the menu are the $14 cocktails. The Hemingway Daiquiri (Crusoe Silver Rum, Giffard Pamplemousse Rose, Luxardo Maraschino, and fresh lime) sounds particularly amusing.
Bar Bouchon Monday-Friday, 4 – 7 p.m.| 235 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA. | 310.271.9910|
Culver Hotel, Culver City
This classy historical boutique hotel (built in 1924) has an equally classy happy hour. The establishment’s website couldn’t describe the experience any better: vintage glamour, artful design, and a dash of European ambiance.
Enjoy your bargain sips and bites in the Grand Lobby and be whisked away to a majestic manor with plenty of plush seating to lounge on. The happy hour menu includes $6 truffle fries, tempura green beans, and dark-beer battered fish tacos. Also, $5 wasabi deviled eggs. Beer and house wines are $5.
The $7 cocktail list even has an ever-so-Parisian Kir Royale. Stay for live music – nightly after 7:30 p.m. Then maybe make your way upstairs to the hotel’s Velvet Lounge. The lounge has a Eurocana vibe of a 1920’s Speakeasy and a Parisian boudoir.
Culver Hotel Daily, 4 – 7 p.m. | 9400 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA. | 310.558.9400 |
Vertical Wine Bistro, Pasadena
Look for this contemporary restaurant in a narrow space between two buildings where exposed light bulbs festively hang overhead. Climb the fancy metal stairs that are subtly reminiscent of ornate metro signs in Paris.
Welcome to Vertical Wine Bistro where chefs cook up entrees from around the world although there are some definite European favorites such as black mussels, braised beef bourguignon, and a duck confit poutine. At Vertical, happy hour is called “Happy Time” and with a list of filling items on the menu this could indeed be a time to be happy that you’re not paying full price.
There’s an $8 margherita pizza, $9 crispy calamari with spicy marinara sauce, $11 burger sliders (gruyere, cheddar, and morbier), and a $15 lobster roll with fries, among other offerings. $5 beer, $7 house red and white wines, $7 sangria and $7 cocktails.
The Kir Vertical (champagne, St. Germain, fresh mint) is a twist on the traditional Kir Royale.
Vertical Wine Bistro Tuesday – Saturday, 4-7 p.m. and all day Sunday | 70 N. Raymond Ave. Pasadena, CA | 626.795.3999 |
Do you know of any high-class Eurocana Happy Hours in your area? Let me know!