THE HAPPY HOUR has historically served as that period of time when laborers shirk the slime of the working day and get hammered enough to


Happy hour: a survivor's story

A young man sets out in a city filled with empty midday dives waiting to plow him with cheap Pabst and fried things.

THE HAPPY HOUR has historically served as that period of time when laborers shirk the slime of the working day and get hammered enough to go home and deal with their screeching families. It's something to look forward to: social time, private time, those few brief hours when someone isn't on your back, yelling in your palsied ear like a bitch demon from hell.

However, if you're like me, neither member of the workforce nor family man, then for you happy hour is a great excuse to get out of bed and load up on cheap poison. And if you're assigned to review some for your local paper, you'd better hit them ALL IN ONE DAY! At least that's what I told myself. I laced up my walking shoes and left the bike at home. My name is Mark Driver and this is my story.

I started my quest at 4pm in Belltown, breaching the front door of Shorty's Coney Island (2222 Second, Belltown), where the employees seemed surprised to have any business at 4pm and were dodgy about the happy hour details. Apparently, their happy hour consists of $1.75 bottles of Pabst (as opposed to $2 normally, I think) and something that used to be somewhere under the counter but they couldn't find and they were probably out of anyway. Undaunted, I made goat noises and played some Robotron before sallying forth to Palmers (2034 Third, Belltown), which didn't have any happy hour at all. They may have Seattle's Best Reuben, but one normally priced Redhook later ($3.25), I headed on, a bit hazy and still without a good happy hour to write about.

It was still early though, when I hit the motherlode. Gibson's (116 Stewart, Downtown) is what happy hour should be all about: double well drinks the price of a single! When, gulping down a double vodka tonic ($2.75), I asked about happy hour food, the bartender told me "there is no happiness, there is no enjoyment, everything is false." Whoa! A little heavy for 4:30 on a Monday afternoon, doncha think?

Food is for quitters anyway, which is why I tromped up to Planet Hollywood (1500 Sixth, Downtown) and enjoyed me a $1.75 pint of Budweiser amidst desperate looking servers wondering "where are the people?" On four drinks though, that place was lookin' something terrific. A huge crooked TV screen in a lifeboat reflected a headless corpse climbing the wall behind me, traversing Schwarzenegger's doo-rag from Twins and Harvey Keitel's pie fork from Monkey Trouble (OK, I made those up).

Von's Grand Street Caf鼯B> (619 Pine, Downtown), home of the tankard and constant haunt of Nutter and Broiler, was just around the corner and actually had some people in it. As I entered, I watched the happy hour wheel spin up $5.25 tankards, which are just 2 ounces short of 3 beers and normally take a long time to drink. This Cub Scout did it in seven minutes before tramp tramp tramping down to McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant (1103 First, Downtown), where potato croquettes and oyster shooters (2) were damn fine at $1.95 each, but also where there weren't drink specials and people in neckties kept trying to take my chair.

I couldn't even get a chair at the Metropolitan Grill (820 Second, Downtown), but I knew when I walked into the men's room and saw that Wall Street Journal above the urinal that those folks meant business. Even though there were many suits pressed against me (I had left the bathroom by this point), I chugged more oysters (3 for $1!) and washed them down with a Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon ($5.95, woody and precocious) and RAN OUT THE DOOR down to Owl 'n Thistle (808 Post, Pioneer Squarish) because it was nearin' that witchin' hour of 6pm when most happy hours stop. More bounty from the sea ended up in my tummy—happy hour fish 'n' chips ($2.95) and a vodka tonic ($2.50).

The clock bonged six, but I wasn't fazed because I knew that Slayer's favorite restaurant, T.G.I. Fridays (1001 Fairview N, Lake Union), was a shrimpy bus ride away and had happy hour until 7. I was right. Syrupy but tasty sesame jack chicken strips ($3.49) and a tall Killians ($3.95) were quickly hustled out to me by striped waiters, heavy with flare, and a fat guy in town from Des Moines leaned over and asked me "where can a guy get a good time in Seattle?"

"Right here," I answered him, "right here at T.G.I. Fridays!"

MAN OH MAN was I feeling the happy hours pile up in my head. I needed a long walk and hoofed it down Eastlake toward Capitol Hill to strut off some of my drunk when The Storeroom (605 Eastlake E) reached out and grabbed me. I wasn't completely sure if it was still happy hour, but the Pabst was cheap and I think the Geto Boys were on the jukebox so I stuck around for a while before heading toward Linda's Tavern (707 E Pine, Capitol Hill), where pitchers of beer are a buck or two cheaper from 7-9. Luckily I met up with some buddies there and managed to catch a little nap.

As per my instructions, Jimbo woke me up at 9:30 and with my head in a little better place I headed to Dragonfish Asian Caf鼯B> (722 Pine, Downtown), cooling my jets with a $2.75 glass of Ruby Sake and de-icing my wings with $3.75 coconut shrimp rolls. Like a few other places, Dragonfish starts its happy hour up again at 10, which is good or terrifying, depending on if you hit it earlier or not.

It was late and I was burned black but the zeitgeist of the evening took for a last spot near my house, The Broadway New American Grill (314 Broadway E, Capitol Hill). They have daily drink specials and half price appetizers from 4-6pm and then again from 10-2. Decent fried calamari was like $3 (my notes were getting fuzzy at this point) and I must've drunk something blue because it was all over my shirt when I woke up.

Sadly, the rest of the night was a blur. I don't think I hit any more happy hours, and if I did, they didn't make much of an impression on me. What I do know is that I slept for 13 hours. Thirteen long, happy hours that brought me into Tuesday, giving me just enough time to change shirts and do it all over again.

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