Happy Hour Guide
After a long day at work filled with meetings, sorting junk emails and eating lunch al desko, catching up with friends and seizing the rest of the day in the form of a few drinks seems like not a bad option. There you have it; happy hour is the official cure for life in the corporate world, especially during the week, when you don’t feel like being up all night and wasted the next morning.
The term “happy hour” originated from US Naval slang in the 1920s, referring to the scheduled period of amusement on-ship. But, ironically, the habit of drinking early in the day only really took off during Prohibition, when it was illegal to serve alcohol in restaurants, thus causing many to wet their whistles before dinner.
Today, happy hour is commonly known as one of the ways to unwind after work and indulge in half-priced drinks. However, in Vienna very few bars offer a daily happy hour. Most have just one day a week when you can enjoy some bargains. Not to mention that Austrians prefer beer and wine to cocktails, so perhaps happy hour simply isn't as popular here. Nevertheless, here are some places hand-picked for your convenience, where you can score on low-priced cocktails and spend some quality time. Many of them are not, ultimately, the best cocktail bars in town, but ones which have a happy hour. A good number are located in the 1st district, which comes as no surprise, because that is where most tourists, who have a better awareness of this phenomenon, are located.
Kruger’s American Bar (Krugerstrasse 5) has a daily happy hour from 6 to 8pm, with cocktails costing €7.20 each. The bar boasts an impressive drinks menu, with a vast choice of cocktails, priced between €8.20 and €11.60, from classics to more unusual drinks (Elma, Lo, Russian Summer), including tasty non-alcoholic ones. There is also a good selection of cigars and free nuts served with the cocktails, which is a nice bonus. You can either sink into one of the comfy chesterfields, or sit on a tall bar stool and watch the barkeeper's magic hands at work. During summer there is a relaxed green area outside the bar on the pavement. I think it’s better to go during happy hour, rather than for a pre- or after-party drink, as it gets crowded, stinky from tobacco and loud in late evenings.
Around the corner, at Annagasse 8, you can sneak into one of the small hidden bars in Vienna, namely the American Cocktail Bar New York New York. Black-and-white photos of Hollywood stars, an award-winning bar keeper and some lovely tunes by Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald make it a special place. On the large cocktail menu you can find any drink you're after, with prices ranging from just €6 to €10. The Martinis and Manhattans are very good — the Caipirinhas, Mojitos and Daiquiris even better — and finally, a place where somebody knows how to mix a Cosmopolitan properly! Beware, however, that neither wine nor beer is served and payment is accepted only in cash. Happy hour is currently from 6 to 8pm, with all cocktails priced at €5. During summer there are some tables outside.
Apart from being a very good Mexican restaurant with friendly ambience and fine service, Más! (Laudongasse 36) also offers excellent cocktails during their happy hour, priced at 30% less than the regular price, which you can enjoy daily between 5 and 7pm, as well as from 10.30 – 11.30pm. Más! is almost always very busy, so reservations for special occasions are a must. In summer you can sit outside, but keep in mind that the outdoor seating is situated directly adjacent to passing cars and a tram line. This place is especially recommended for sipping cocktails in the early evening.
Whether you want to celebrate good shopping in the 6th district or just happen to be in the area, turn onto Zollergasse, and at number 6, enjoy a drink in the small bar/café/art gallery, St. Art. Located next to the famous Café Europa, this bar makes happy hour even happier by extending it from 7 till 10pm, with prices at just €5 per cocktail. The interior has a cozy atmosphere, though filled with smoke in the later hours. In summer there is a terrace outside and the wide-open doors also help your breathing if you decide to stay indoors.
Kix, Bäckerstrasse 4, is my secret tip in the heart of Vienna. Brightly painted, packed with all sorts of people, but mostly locals, it offers happy hour cocktails e.g. Pina Coladas, Caipirinhas, Cosmopolitans, Mojitos and Long Island Ice Teas, and many more, for €5.20 each from Monday to Friday, 5 to 8 pm and Saturday 7 to 8 pm. Kix is a very easy-going place with good service. Most of the time, you can find a seat in the non-smoking area at the back, and the cocktails are yummy! Tip: try a rum-based cocktail (the bar has a great variety of rum) and you will immediately be planning your return. This bar has its own uniquely peaceful charm and is definitely worth a visit!
And just in case summer and you are simultaneously in town, you can pretend for an eve that you are on vacation and slouch in a deck chair, with your feet in the sand, sipping a cocktail (2 for the price of 1 during happy hour, daily from 6 to 7 pm) at Herrmann Strandbar (Herrmannpark, 1030 Vienna. Closed from October till April.).
edited by Anu Turunen