Listen, we all need to blow off some steam after a long day’s work from time to time, and sometimes we just want a little social lubricant to hear what our colleagues REALLY think about that new hire. Regardless of your motivations, I’ve rounded up the best happy hours in downtown Ottawa, so you can get loose without breaking the bank.
I’ve limited the geographic radius of this list with the recognition that a good portion of the public service and private sector have offices in the area, and also, I wanted to prevent this list from getting unruly. If there’s interest, I can run future posts on other neighbourhoods, just leave your wishlist in the comments below.
If I’ve missed your favourite watering hole, let me know in the comments and I’ll make my way there to check it out for myself.
5 à 7 Aperitivo | North & Navy | 226 Nepean St.
One of my preferred watering holes, as it is spitting distance from both my home and office, the Northern Italian restaurant offers up $6 Negronis, Peronis, and Prosecco. What does this mean? I am speaking from experience when I say, it means you can get a serious tilt on before 7 p.m. for $30 or less.
If you’d like to lay down a base layer to prevent from oversharing with your colleagues and having to call in sick the next day, you can grab some of their signature Cicheti (small bites) for $3 apiece. The options change but you can always count on their tasty Polpette (meatballs).
5 à 7 Aperitivo is on Monday through Saturday (only in the bar) at North and Navy. Reservations encouraged.
Oysters & Pints | Whalesbone on Elgin | 231 Elgin St.
Two pints and 18 oysters for $45 – now, that’s a deal if I’ve ever heard one. Apparently, some vegans are even eating oysters now because these tasty bivalves don’t have central nervous systems. So, what I’m saying is, this might be a new way to enjoy spending time with your vegan friends at a restaurant, and they can order something other than fries.
Bonus points: Whalesbone on Elgin has one of the loveliest hidden patios in the city. Tucked away at the back of the restaurant, the patio is well-shaded by bright yellow umbrellas with fresh flowers and a canopy of string lights, in the event happy hour turns into a whole night affair.
Happy hour is on Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. and also features other rotating dishes at great prices – like bacon-wrapped scallops with avocado relish for $16.
Revel Hour | feast + revel | 325 Dalhousie St.
In the ByWard Market and looking for a little cinq-à-sept pick-me-up? Head over to feast + revel located on the first floor of The Andaz hotel for revel hour.
Featuring $6 food and drink from 5-7 every day of the week, it’s great bang for your buck. Drink specials include a VQA red and VQA white, Top Shelf Gin & Tonic, and a craft beer option.
Snacks include the sinful poutine pogo, Fogo Island Cod Ceviche, fancy chicken wings, and a beet snack.
Bonus points: if you sit by the window, you’re guaranteed front row seats for some great people-watching. If you’re getting loose, head up to Copper Sights & Spirits on the 16th floor for one of the best views of the city and more tipples.
Q Bar | Queen Street Fare | 170 Queen St.
If you haven’t been to Ottawa’s only food hall, I would encourage you to time your first visit with the happy hour at Q Bar that runs from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Belly up to the stylish green marble bar and fill your cup with $1/oz house wine or $5 for 16 oz of blonde or amber Broadhead beer or Beau’s Lugtread.
While the weather permits, you can also take your beverages out to the newly opened patio facing Queen Street. Or, if you’re so inclined, stay indoors and take in some of the live entertainment which varies each week and includes a mix of live bands and DJs.
Tiki Tuesday | Datsun | 380 Elgin St.
If you share my affinity for the brilliant cocktail culture that is Tiki, you are sure to enjoy Tuesday nights at Datsun. The Asian-inspired restaurant at Elgin and Gladstone delivers beautifully on Tiki classics like the Zombie, Mai Tai, and Saturn, with some novel twists. True to form, the Tiki Tuesday offerings are served with the trademark flair of this cocktail culture and affordably priced at $9 each. The Tiki cocktail menu is a Tuesday-night exclusive and worth venturing down Elgin for, even in its current state of deconstruction.
You can find drink specials on during happy hour Tuesday-Friday from 4:30-6 p.m. featuring $5 bao buns, red and white wine, Sapporo pints, and bar rail, but the tiki cocktail menu is only offered on Tuesdays – all night long.
Low Tide Cocktail Hour | The Shore Club | 11 Colonel By Dr.
Buck-a-shuck oysters are the big draw at the Low Tide Cocktail Hour at The Shore Club. Ensconced in the Westin hotel, the dimly-lit steakhouse has a lively bar, often populated by business travellers, and plenty of quiet corners for hushed conversation.
While the regular menu trends to the expensive side, from 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday you can get light bites at affordable prices, cocktail features, and, those binge-worthy $1 apiece oysters.
Aperitivo Hour | Jackson | 10 Daly Ave.
If you didn’t get the memo, Aperol Spritz is the drink of Summer ’19. Get your fill of that choice cocktail at the well-appointed restaurant in the Ottawa Art Gallery for only $7 each from 4:30-6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
In addition to the spritz, house wine (including bubbles) are on offer for $6 a glass, and Collective Arts draft is available for $6.
A selection of snacks – ranging from olives to tuna tartare – are available for prices ranging from $5 to $13.
Golden Hour | Sidedoor | 18b York St.
Inspired by the street food of Southeast Asia, Sidedoor slings sweet deals on booze and eats during The Golden Hour from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tucked away in the courtyard between York and George St. (behind Restaurant e18hteen), the sprawling subterranean restaurant is well-known for its tacos and mini donuts but is worth the visit for other cocktail and culinary delights.
During The Golden Hour, a selection of wines are on offer for $6 or $7, sip on a cold glass of Sapporo for $6, or grab a Golden Hour Margarita for $8.
Nibbles like their trademark Bajan fish taco, bao, dumplings, and shrimp stuffed tofu are all sold at accessible price points, ranging from $4.50 to $12.
Happy Hour | The Wine Bar at Beckta | 150 Elgin St., Unit 100
The Wine Bar at Beckta earned a place on my popular Best Ottawa Date Spots: Cocktails post from last year for its ambitious bar program and classy vibe.
Their happy hour deals are just another reason to pay them a visit. From 3-5:30 p.m. on weekdays, the talented bartenders at The Wine Bar are mixing up a selection of classic cocktails for only $10 each.
If you’re like me and have been astonished to see you racked up a $100+ bill over the course of five craft cocktails, this offer is a welcome reprieve for the pocketbook.
Bonus points: The Wine Bar at Beckta runs a Black Box Cocktail Challenge series to up the ante on the happy hour experience. As a guest, you get to choose a feature ingredient from a black box and task your favourite bartender to use it in a custom cocktail made just for you. Have you seen Chopped? It’s just like but you’re the judge, and you get a drink. Check in on their Instagram for dates.