The Happier Happy Hour

Blow off some steam after work with these enticing bar menus and deals

The genius who invented happy hour deserves a day in their honor. Well, we kind of celebrate them five days a week, don't we? Let's raise a glass to innovative souls everywhere with these new bar menus and drink specials in some of Chicago's hottest  hangouts. We'll see you there at 5:01PM.

While many of us work in the Loop, there are surprisingly few happy hour destinations downtown. That all changes with the new bar menu at 312 Chicago (you'll just have to take a later train). New chef Luca Corazzina has put together a jam-packed list of dishes all priced at $10. Pick from panzerotti (pizza dough filled with mozzarella and prosciutto), arancini (sweet corn risotto balls stuffed with roasted chicken, red onions, fontina cheese, black truffles and salsa verde), mini crab cakes with roasted red pepper sauce and more. Tasty concoctions -- also 10 bucks -- include such classics as Pimm's Cups, mint juleps with muddled navel oranges and old fashioneds.

Tapas Valencia, a new dining destination in the South Loop, recently debuted its happy hour menu of hot and cold tapas, which are served from 4-6PM Mondays through Fridays. Dishes are priced at $2 each and include such favorites as baked dates wrapped in bacon served in a red pepper sauce, brochettes of grilled shrimp or chicken and chorizo, and tuna-filled cannelloni in a creamy white wine vinaigrette.

River North worker bees flock to A Mano, the chic Italian trattoria located under sister restaurant BIN 36. A Mano offers a spacious lounge area, beautiful people watching and drink discounts on Mondays ($3 bottles of beer) and Wednesdays ($5 martinis), along with $5 pizzas on Thursdays.

Lincoln Park's Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! is one of Chicago's first tapas restaurants, so they know a thing or two about small plates accompanied by alcohol. The convivial eatery offers $1 pintxos (bite-sized tapas) and $3 regular-sized tapas plates daily from 4-6PM, as well as from 10PM-12AM on Friday and Saturday nights if happy hour means something a little different to you. 

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