There are 24 hours in a day. But it's those few hours in the late afternoon, early evening — when we unwind from the grind and embark on social gatherings — that are often happiest. Happy hour has a bizarre, muddled past in Ontario that has seen the custom come into effect, then be banned for worry of promoting excessive consumption. The concept then made a comeback a few years ago as a ridiculously archaic law that allows booze prices to fluctuate throughout the day but does not allow establishments to explicitly call it "happy hour."
Skirting the rules, local bars and restaurants have turned crafty in their naming conventions, and you'll see specials featured as hooch hour, false economy and cinq-a-sept (a Quebec term) to advertise after-work, loosen-up drinks. So, discover a new hangout, check in on an old favourite or just score a deal with these five eastside spots to bid adieu to the day and boozily start your evening.
It's hard to have a conversation about happy hour without mentioning Prohibition. The modern speakeasy that has become a social mainstay at the corner of Queen and Broadview takes its so-called 'Hooch Hour' seriously enough to drop prices not once, but twice every day of the week. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and again from 10 p.m. to midnight, all draught and bottled beer, house wine and top-shelf rail liquor (think Ketel One, Patron, Woodford Reserve, et. al) rings up at the lowly sum of $5.09. Bonus: Party shots of Jägermeister and JD Honey Jack are just $2.50 all day.
696 Queen St. E.
Up on Gerrard St., McGugan's stretches the happy hour concept into a five-hour affair. The Scottish-themed pub pours $5 pints from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week, so, in theory, you could start early enough that a liquid lunch could blend right into a boisterous evening without the weight and worry of a hefty bill at the end. Better yet, pair your drink with a daily special of the McGugan's elevated comfort food. Tacos and a pint for $13.95 on Mondays right through to steak and a pint for $18.95 on Sundays — these deals are tough to pass up.
1058 Gerrard St. E
“Cheap booze is a false economy,” once quipped the late literary icon Christopher Hitchens, who was known for indulging in the drink and whose name lives on at Hitch near Queen and Leslie. So, it's fitting then that this chilled-out bar's daily drink special is called False Economy hour in his honour. Listen to vinyl, watch cult films on the projector and taste a handful of local taps including Duggan's No. 9 IPA and Left Field Saison that go for a mellow five bucks from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
1216 Queen St. E
Another long-time neighbourhood fixture, Joy Bistro has firmly established itself as a choice meetup spot among after-work tipple enthusiasts. When draught beer and house wine is priced at $4.87 and buck-a-shuck oysters are featured everyday from 5 p.m. to 7pm., it's hard to go wrong. Add to that a prime view of Jimmie Simpson Park when the Booth St. side patio is open and you've got yourself a worthy reason to post up and people watch here.
884 Queen St. E
An Sibin Pub
Marking the corner of Queen St. E and Broadview, An Sibin is an easy-to-meet-at spot for a couple of after-work bevies. With over 20 Irish and craft beers on tap (plus guest and seasonal taps) and an impressively deep whiskey menu, the choices here suit just about any taste. But it's An Sibin's Hoppy Hour that lands the pub on this list — $5 for craft pints, house wine, rail liquor and select Irish whiskeys every day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The pub also has daily food and drink specials such as $6/lb. wings on Monday and $5 drinks all night on Thursdays.
709 Queen St. E