Happy Hour is Restocking Hour at Stir Market

Porchetta Chili Cheese Fries

There are happy hours where get enticed into what might seem like a great deal but, once you’ve arrived and start ordering, the specials don’t seem as attractive now that you see the menu up close. But the great thing about Restocking Hour at Stir Market is that there are specials on both food and wine, and the prices are at pretty big discounts on really tasty offerings.

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The Happy Hour at Harlowe

Two Trios of Oysters (Half-dozen = $10)

Bar Harlowe has been open for four months, now, and has become my favorite bar of the 1933 Group. It’s easy to see why, when Harlowe’s cocktail menu with housemade elixirs and modern techniques was designed by Dushan Zaric, Chris Amirault (recently named one of Zagat’s 30 Under 30) and Kyle Ackley.

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New Happy Hours of Note: The Bazaar by José Andrés and Petrossian West Hollywood

Caviar Martini – Petrossian

There are a couple new happy hours at some pretty fancy spots in Mid-City West and West Hollywood launching today. With weather in Los Angeles warming up as much as it has recently, it doesn’t get much better than these refreshing libations and succulent bites on the terrace or patio to begin your night.

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The Anti-Prix-Fixe Valentine’s Day Roundup

Carnival Cabaret at Big Bar

Single or not, you won’t find me exactly chomping at the bit to try any sort of prix fixe menu on, of all nights, Valentine’s Day, only the busiest dining night out all year. A night of fighting the crowds of twosomes to order up one of the multitude of prix fixe menus during a potentially service-distastrous evening is not something I can recommend to you in good conscience, so why pretend? Anniversaries and birthdays are as great as the dates they land on are unique to each couple or person, so when a calendar designates that one particular day is the day everyone is to express one’s affection to his/her significant other, I can’t help but get a little bit apprehensive.

Here are a few fun alternatives to Valentine’s Day that take that icky obligatory feeling out of your profession of love…

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Lakers, Clippers and Kings Pre-gaming and Viewing at The Mixing Room, J.W. Marriott at L.A. LIVE

Burgers & Beers Deal ($18)

With hockey and basketball seasons upon us, you’ll want to go somewhere to pre-game a live match or simply watch the game on the big screen. Fortunately, the posh space in the lobby level of L.A. Live‘s J.W. Marriott known as The Mixing Room is offering up a few deals whenever an L.A. home team is in the rink or on the court.

In a sort of home team-spirited happy hour for those attending the game (and not), they’re offering a Street Food series, with one $8 featured menu item to run one to two hours before each home game. During this time, you can also get a 16-oz beer for $8, a flight of three beers for $12 and a street food item plus 16-oz beer combo for $15. For an idea of what street food item they’re serving when, peep this schedule. Think Korean Style Tacos, Cuban Sandwiches and Salvadorian Pupusas. Yes, folks, street food is now at a hotel.

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Scarpetta’s $8 Until 8 Happy Hour Launches Today

Scarpetta Happy Hour

It doesn’t get much simpler than 8 dishes and 8 cocktails for $8 each (until 8PM, that is) at Scarpetta, who just launched their brand new happy hour on Mondays through Saturdays. The great part is that the special goes for 4 hours, from 4 until 8 PM.

Of course, this means that you’re pretty much susceptible to get reeled in to their famous spaghetti, but that’s if you don’t get full on these bites, which really hold their value. A jar full of delicious chicken liver pate? Lobster croquettes served with saffron aioli? Mascarpone ravioli and sliders filled with porchetta? All these bites by Freddy Vargas pretty awesome, and vegetarians will love that they can enjoy 4 of the total 8 bar bites – just peep the menu.

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The Hudson Updates Their Look & Menu

The Hudson

The Hudson has been at the center of many a West Hollywood scene. So when they shuttered over the new year for 3 weeks to renovate their interior, they had in mind to update the feel of the place – without doing so much as to disrupt the reasons their patrons have become regulars. What you’ll feel immediately when you walk in is the added height – 8 feet, to be exact – and a now-exposed, beautiful A-frame ceiling.

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Delicious Summer Bites and Much More at Whist, The Viceroy

Sea Urchin Crostini, Sea Salt, Lemon & Lardo

There are bites, and then there are bites. 

The bites are the kind of thing where you warm up to a beautiful place with just the right ambiance. The tastes are deceptively good. Then, you proceed to order more and more, ultimately staying for what accumulates to an all-out meal. I am a grazer, not a gorger; I love bites.

Crab Cake Crostini, Chicken Liver Mousse

Now, a great place to do exactly that is Whist at The Viceroy in Santa Monica – a place where the indoor dining options are just as charming as the outdoor, with the latter coming full circle thanks to poolside and cabana options. Chicken liver mousse with pancetta on crostini? Heavenly. Dungeness crab cake with yuzu on crostinis? Refreshing. And of course, it’s not enough to put just uni on crostini, but to add lardo? Indulgent. And perfect.

The real problem is that if you don’t have a few camarades with you on this little dining adventure, you’ll probably get real full before you either: 1) Get to try all the bites you wanted to, or 2) Get to any of the also-solid main dishes available. After all, you can’t forget about the juicy, flavorful Lamb Kafka Meatballs, topped with orange, pistachio and yogurt. Nor the beautifully cured hamachi with rhubarb “ponzu,” cucumber, radish and celery.

Grilled Octopus, Romesco, Potatoes, Charred Wild Leeks

All this, while having to avoid getting full on their extraordinary corn bread, which Chef Tony DiSalvo makes with three different renditions of corn to achieve that robust flavor. Oh, and that perfectly prepared Grilled Octopus with romesco, potatoes and charred wild leeks. It’s the kind of octopus dish that converts all those naysayers who’ve assumed octopus, by nature, is chewy. The tentacles are tender and flavorful, yet finished with a crispy exterior.

But of course, I must move on to the mains, a favorite of which was the Broiled Halibut. The filet came perched on a bed of deliciously smoked potato-miso puree and paired with crispy asparagus and ginger. It was a surprising winner – simple but a perfect combination of flavors. The smoke was a nice and unexpected touch.

And as for some other mains, sweetbreads lovers will love this version prepared with morels and fava beans in sherry. But if you’re looking for something a little lighter than that, the potato gnocchi are just as much a treat (and doubles as a vegetarian alternative), with asparagus and morels rounding out its buttery essence.

If I were to pick the one essential dessert at Whist, it would be the Rhubarb tart with its buttery crust and walnut crumble on top. Of course, it comes a la mode with vanilla ice cream. Just try it. It’s just one of those desserts where if you thought you were full before, you’ll realize you do have enough room for dessert. All of it.

So check out Tony DiSalvo and Chris Crary’s new bites, served in their chic dining room or outdoors. The tastes are just too fabulous to allow you to get too distracted by the hotel, pool or any of the beautiful views and ambiance they afford.

All food and drink were hosted.

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Mon – Thur

7 AM – 9:30 PM

Fri – Sat

7 AM – 10 PM

Also check out special events during the summer

Whist at The Viceroy Hotel
1819 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310.260.7511

Judging a Happy Hour Beyond Its Cover: Hollywood’s Lexington Social House

Mette's Fried Chicken Tenders

There’s something about being a Hollywood resident that lends itself to glossing over most of the food and drink choices in my neighborhood. Believe you me, I love my area and all the conveniences it affords – but it’s because they all outweigh the inconveniences.

The Lexington | Earl grey-infused Woodford Reserve Bourbon, honey, lemon juice, orange bitters

There are inconveniences like the annoyances of walking past the Thursday through Saturday night crowd, as well as the douche spots themselves that I’d avoid any day of the week. Hemingway’s is an example of a place that I’d go and see Alex Straus make cocktails earlier in the evening but avoid at all costs at peak times. But now, I can add Lexington Social House to that secret non-peak-time list.

I was invited to take a peak at their Social Hour, their thematically dubbed happy hour. And it’s not shabby in the least. With the launch of their new menu, it’s a great opportunity to try new items during LSH Lite, which goes on at the bar Tuesday through Friday from 5:30 until 8 PM and all day Sunday. Their specialty cocktails as well as their entire menu is half-off during this time! Since I love sitting at the bar, anyway, I’ll gladly take my supper club to the stools.

Chipotle Pork Belly Biscuits

A sure menu bet is Mette Williams’ fried chicken tenders, an unordinarily juicy-crispy preparation. Looking for that hearty bite that doesn’t hold back? The Chipotle pork belly biscuits with aged Gouda and fried egg will be sure to satisfy you and then some.

As for the cocktails, designed by Kyle Ackley, I must applaud this Hollywood-and-Vine institution for putting the brakes on the vodka in their drink menu – just beware that there are pop rocks in one of them. My favorite cocktail, however, was the Spanish Harlem, made with tanteo cocoa infused tequila, maraschino liqueur, agave nectar and chocolate-chili bitters. It was a clean, strong yet flavorful drink and I ended up having another.

Lexington Social House is an unlikely place to find a Spago and CUT alum like Mette Williams, but alas – there she is, surprising everyone with her well-executed, comfort-driven menu. Social Hour is just the time to try it all out and wash it down at half-off. And that beats amateur hour any day. 

All food and cocktails were hosted.

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1/2-Off Happy Hour:

Tue – Fri: 5:30 – 8 PM
Sunday: All night

Lexington Social House‎
1718 Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 90027
323.461.1700

Drago Centro Winter Cocktail Menu Debuts Today – Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rode Duivel | Bols Genever, St. Maria al Monte Amaro, Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters, Dried Cherries

There’s something really exciting going on behind the bar at a certain restaurant in Downtown LA. No, it’s not the craftiness of a Michael Shearin, who has since left for a brand ambassador position – but the hardly rookie beginnings of Jaymee Mandeville as dreamer of the newest winter cocktail menu at Drago Centro.

Grimhilda | Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy, Pama, Chipotle Infused Honey, Lemon

It’s a menu that has really good range, while at the same time having solid representations in each corner. To be honest, there was only one of ten cocktails on the list that I disliked and over a handful that I would easily order for my friends on recommendation of the spirit they preferred or myself based on that day’s mood. There were even more cocktails I was excited about than I shared an indifferent opinion about.

For instance, the Bols Genever-based Rode Duvel lived up to the high expectations I had for it. It’s enhanced with St. Maria Al Monte Amaro, which is a more bitter amaro and goes so well with the Bols and Miracle Mile Sour Cherry bitters. Be sure not to ignore the dried cherry garnish, as your drink only tastes better paired with each bite of the skewer. It was quite the cocktail to reinforce my love of Bols.

Western All'italiana | High West Double Rye, Cointreau, St. Elizabeth All Spice Dram, cranberry and oregano infused molasses, Gala apple

For that friend who may shame you by ordering that Cosmopolitan, order him/her a Grimhilda instead. Made with Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, Parma, Housemade Chipotle Infused Honey and lemon, its sugar rim is actually an asset and not an obstruction to the cocktail (it has just enough). The chipotle honey does enough to help keep its sugary profile intact but interesting, and you may just wow that craving for cranberry out of your friend.

The every man’s fizzy cocktail would have to be Fated Seeds. This is a cocktail that’s sure to convert former gin avoiders. Persimmons in this cocktail were practically pickled and given a sort of vinegared acidity, without which would’ve made the persimmons evaporate. The basil shrub was a nice aromatic note while a soda topping gave it its effervescence.

Breaking Castagne | Hardy VSOP Cognac, Sombra Mezcal, Bitter Truth Mole Bitters, Housemade Italian Chestnut Syrup, egg white, nutmeg

An unexpected favorite of the night was the Western All’italiana, made with High West Double Rye, Cointreau, St. Elizabeth All Spice Dram, cranberry and oregano infused molasses, and a Gala apple peel garnish. The cocktail really showcases the all spice, cranberry and oregano beautifully. Of course, it goes without saying that I will ever have the double rye in my corner – so while it gets more than its fair shake, I have to stress that all the infused flavors do well to complement.

The Breaking Castagne is Drago’s winter egg nog – only better. The VSOP gives it that warmth and the mezcal just the right amount of smokyness, but the chestnut syrup is, of course, the real, winter-y centerpiece here.

Eve's Demise | Black Grouse Scotch, Belle de Brillet Pear Cognac, Housemade hibiscus apple cider, maple syrup

And then there were the drinks that steadfastly held their corner. The Dead Man’s Tale is the menu’s tiki drink and a play on the Fog Cutter – made with Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum, Bombay Dry Gin, Bertagnolli Grappa, Oloroso Sherry, Bietterman’s Amer Nouvelle, St. Vincent’s Orgeat, lemon, orange and Galliano mist. It was delicious, even though tiki drinks aren’t usually my go-to.

The Remedy X holds its own as the ginger lovers’ cocktail. Made with rosemary infused Bushmill’s Blackbush Irish Whiskey, ginger infused agave and lemon – the rosemary gave this drink a nice, floral twist. And of course, it had the essential candied ginger garnish.

The spicy cocktail of the bunch is the silver Screen Quotations, made with 123 Organic Blanco Tequila, housemade thai chili/cinnamon syrup, red bell pepper, mint, lime and saffron salt. The mint is a nice, aromatic twist that gives the whole cocktail a refreshing take.

But if you’re looking for that quintessential, surprise-me hot toddy, look no further than Eve’s Demise, made with Black Grouse Scotch, Belle de Brillet Pear Cognac, housemade hibiscus apple cider (mmm) and maple syrup. The delicious garnish alone deserves its own double take, but I honestly had a hard time putting this cute little jar-encased hot sipper down.

Fortunately, you can taste all of these tonight at the winter menu cocktail launch for $8 each. Bring the gang, since there’s a drink on the menu for everyone. This delicious menu is sure to delight and satiate your craving for that perfect winter cocktail.

Winter cocktail menu tasting was hosted.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

6 PM – Close: $8 each

$12 each all other times

Drago Centro
525 S. Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
213.228.8998