The Makings of a Home Happy Hour.

Well, I’m straying a bit from my usual blog subjects, but I thought this one was worth it. We focus on places to enjoy a unique and memorable Happy Hour. Well, there’s nothing that says that place can’t be your own home and I’ve found a place to help you do just that. In Long Island City, nearly in Astoria, in the Costco buildings on Vernon Blvd. is KHH Liquors. KHH is not affiliated with Costco, but obviously has some sort of working relationship with them as they have stores near Costco in CO, CT, and another on the way in MA. Simply put: KHH has some of the best prices on wine and liquor (they don’t sell beer at the NY store) I’ve come across. Atmosphere is not the name of the game here. KHH is literally a warehouse with palettes of merchandise, and that’s what allows them to keep their prices low. I find them most useful for everyday wines and spirits, but they do carry some high end products, as well. Bear in mind that items and prices change frequently, but here are some representative selections from my most recent visit:

Penfold’s Rawson’s Retreat

Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon

Alamos Malbec St. Francis Chardonnay

All of these are fantastic wines to share with a party or at your home happy hour and all is under $10 at KHH. Well under, which is a great deal. Moving up the ladder a bit we have:

Frog’s Leap 2004 Zin

Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages ‘02

And a number of other high end wines for well below expected prices. Their liquor selection is equally varied. Well worth the trip! Watch for upcoming Hip Pocket Video on our very own home Happy Hour!

McReilly’s Update:

I continue to visit McReilly’s and am now recognized by the bartenders. Soon, I may be able to consider myself a regular. This latest visit, I wandered in during a Yankees/Mets game. The place was raucous with friendly but pointed bar banter being tossed the length of the bar. I sat smack in the middle and watched the same two fellows that had a baseball debate go to town again. Great fun. The bartender even checked in with me to jokingly make sure I hadn’t come in for a quiet meal. I hadn’t. I got exactly what I came in for: a third place in full swing!

The Communicator steals one.

    Okay, so I’m shamelessly lifting one from Mark here.  He submitted this to me today as part of another entry, and I couldn’t help but think that it needed to stand on its own instead.  This is the crux of it all, folks: Keep looking and places like this just jump out at you.  We’re always in development here at Happy Hour, so allow me to reiterate Happy Hour Commandment #1:

1.  The perfect bar is everywhere.  So go there.

    Leave nothing to chance, people: That place you’ve always walked by?  Saunter in.  Look around.  Have some onion rings and ask the bartender what’s good here.  Most of all - Enjoy Yourself.

    Here’s Mark’s piece.  Very nice.      - Jimmy

    “Another surprising thing happened to me today. Once more doing some Happy Hour research (I love my job), I was sitting in mid-town Manhattan in what can only be called a dive bar. The traffic and noise of New York on a weekend banged along outside, but where I sat things were fairly quiet. Not many of us were at the bar, but at the end sat a tough looking character that obviously came in often. He asked for a drink on account. “On account of what?” came the joking reply from the bartender. “On account of I’m broke”, he said. He was on his second drink when I left not having paid a dime. The bartender told him she knew he was good for it. When was the last time you saw that? And in New York, of all places. ‘Third places’ are out there, we just need to keep our eyes open. Happy Hunting.”

The Historian Speaks: Pub Culture.


So many people have asked us, “How did you come up with the idea for Happy Hour”? Here’s a go at explaining it.

I’ve always been fascinated by the “pub culture”, as I’ve referred to it; what matters is not so much simply a place to go and drink, but a place that serves and helps to create a community.  Some time ago, I came across Kevin C. Kearns’ wonderful book “Dublin Pub Life and Lore” and was hooked (It’s a great read, I recommend it highly).  Mr. Kearns had conducted interviews with a generation of old time regulars in Dublin’s colorful and disappearing pub scene.  The world he explored of pintmen, publicans and oddball behavior had me hooked. But that way of life is fading:  Why?

Recently, I came across author Ray Oldenburg’s “The Great Good Place” which deals with why we need places like pubs, taverns, and café’s in our lives and communities. He calls them “third places” (our homes and work being the first and second) and lays out a convincing argument as to why we need a place free from the expectations and responsibilities of the first two. The cast of characters we meet at home and at work changes little, but the cast of a “third place” can change greatly. Also, in a third place we are free to be ourselves, or create a self we choose. Roles can be dissolved. A lawyer can sit elbow to elbow with a mailman, an artist, a student, a waiter. Roles we play on a daily basis can be abandoned and we are welcomed on new terms.

Not all bars and pubs are third places. It takes more than a liquor license to create them. It takes character and characters; conversation and debate. It takes a willingness to be open and include newcomers while enjoying “the regulars”. Sadly, in our world now, these places are becoming rarer as we develop communities that make no place for a “local”. Subdivisions often create neighborhoods of people who share a zip code and little else, isolated in their homes without a third place to bring them together.  And let’s not even begin down the road of the effects of corporate meddling on the independent pub owner.

So Happy Hour came about, in part, to find some of these “third places” and tell their stories. We are the three good friends who want to tell you the stories of the people, the places, the drink and food that are more than just a pick up joint or a business expense. Places that create something unique, weird, funny, and meaningful.

They say the best stories are true. There are countless Happy Hour destinations out there. We want to show you the “third places” you’ll tell your friends about. Maybe you’ll find your own local. Or maybe we’ll all just have some fun.   Cheers!