High-Class Happy Hours Include Great Food

LAS VEGAS ( MainStreet) -- Let's face it. Finding a happy hour isn't hard. Finding a happy hour with fine cuisine as well as fabulous cocktails is.

For those interested in more than a simple beer and pretzels, TravelsinTaste rounds up some favorites. Be it Las Vegas, Southern California or New York, here are our picks to end your day the right way.

Whether guests are looking for a taste of the Italian countryside or familiar American classics, the happy hour specials in Las Vegas' Aria Resort at Sirio and American Fish are a tasty start to an evening's adventure. From 5 to 7 p.m. daily, the restaurants offer appetizers and cocktails at budget-friendly prices. Succulent pork cheeks with tomato bruschetta and spinach and a ricotta cheese ravioli in a creamy sage butter sauce are a few of the bite-size delights Executive Chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia offers for $7 each or three for $18 at Sirio.
The B&B Winepub in New York offers an after-work menu with sharable small plates -- playful offerings that include braised short-rib tacos, chilled shrimp ceviche and chicken "lollipops."

American Fish's Revive at 5 Happy Hour offers a modern twist on American classics. Items such as shrimp and grits and barbecue hicken with cornbread and grilled onions can be enjoyed for only $5 each. Ice-cold beer, including Pabst Blue Ribbon, is playfully served in the can with a koozie for $4 and is the perfect complement to these comfort food creations. Guests who love the element of surprise will be delighted with the bartender's-choice cocktail, which changes daily.

The Hourglass menu at Chef David Myer's Comme Ca in Los Angeles is a great way to sample a few dishes while imbibing in signature 18A cocktails. Delights include Peruvian bay scallops ceviche with caramelized peaches and fennel; vegetable "a la Grecque" with tarragon mustard and pretzel bread and poutine with pomme frites, Vermont white cheddar curds, sausage gravy and a sunny-side-up egg.

Also by Myers, Pizzeria Ortica offers a happy hour and "reverse happy hour." For an after-work bite Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m., visit Pizzeria Ortica for a selection of antipasti such as Arancini fried risotto ball filled with bolognese, mozzarella, marinara and bruschetta garlic crustino, sunny-side-up egg, prosciutto di Parma and specialty Italian-inspired cocktails. Little too early for you? The restaurant also offers tasty pizzas and beer for the late-night crowd.

Chef Joseph Levado at L'Ermitage has crafted a selection of small bites and cocktails in honor of awards season and its stars. Winners on this red carpet menu include "Best Dressed" frites (french fries with Benton's bacon, blue cheese, ranch powder and chives) and the "Best Foreign Language" dish (jalapeno tuna tartare with wonton chips, avocado and sweet soy). Wash it down with a Papa Paparazzi concocted with Hangar One Buddha's Hand, house-made grenadine, lemon, Peychaud's bitters and sparkling rose.

In New York, bar bites are available in Bar "21" Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to closing and Saturday from 5 to closing at the "21" Club. Who would know bar snacks better than a fine-dining restaurant that used to serve drinks during prohibition? Bar 21 offers a new take on pretzels -- soft pretzels with maple mustard, spicy smoked paprika mustard -- in addition to their mini burgers, which are small versions of the famed "21" burger, with pickle and tomato "chutney," cheese and "21" sauce and french fries.

SoHo's B&B Winepub offers an after-work menu with sharable small plates and a selection of wine and beer Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. Chef Josh Capon's playful offerings include braised short-rib tacos, chilled shrimp ceviche and chicken "lollipops." To complement the dishes, the drink menu includes selections from Red Hook Winery, Gotham Project and Anchor Steam.

Modeled on the Italian tradition of relaxing and socializing before dinner with light drinks and snacks, Chef Craig Wallen and head bartender T.J. Siegal of Spasso offers a new aperitivi hour featuring cocktails using classic spirits meant to stimulate the appetite, such as Campari, amaro, Aperol and bitters. Aperitivi hours are from 4 to 6 p.m. daily, featuring specialty cocktails such as the Alfa Romeo (with Prosecco, peach and amaretto) and the Vespa (with Amaro Montenegro and grapefruit). Free snacks and additional small bites include a rotating selection of classics such as pickled mushrooms, artichoke alla giudea, onion foccacia, stuffed fried olives and crostini of the day.

Cheers to good things coming in small packages!

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