Happy hours make me happy, mostly because I love to eat at the bar. I’ve sampled a ridiculous number of them up and down the Shore and recommend the following for their charm, camaraderie, drink prices and food. And one for concept alone.
Knife & Fork Inn
This is the one locals always mention. I typically arrive just after happy hour ends because fighting for a seat is not a path to true happiness. But between 4 and 6:30 p.m. daily, you get half-price appetizers from the iconic 1912 bar, the most beautiful, soulful place in town to get a (not discounted, even at happy hour) drink. Try a pineapple-infused vodka martini from the glass vat behind the bar. Get the lobster spring roll ($6), cornmeal-crusted calamari ($4.50), grilled tuna skewers ($6.50), or duck
leg confit (a $6 bargain that could be a meal). Trust me, you’ll leave happy. 3600 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City
The sceniest scene in Margate, this high-end happy hour at Karen and Carmen Rone’s nearly quarter-century-old institution features a Wednesday half-price sushi diversion that starts at 5 p.m. and doesn’t quit until midnight.
The rest of the week happy hour runs 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with half-price appetizers, $6 specialty martinis, $5 well drinks, and $1 off domestic beers. Courtesy shuttle Wednesday through Sunday beginning June 20. 9300 Amherst Ave., Margate
This Pacific Avenue jazz and supper club is fantastic anytime but, says the website, “We throw a great happy hour!” And so they do, 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with $2 drafts, $5 select martinis, $5 select well drinks, $3 shots, and half-price appetizers. The shrimp-and-grits appetizer stands out, but all the food — a mix of classic soul and New Orleans — is delicious. The music and vibe are great. It’s a gem. Get there. 45 Pacific Ave., Atlantic City
Harbor View Restaurant
A gorgeous Cape May stalwart on the water boasting a Monday to Friday happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Domestic drafts are $2, drinks are $4, and most appetizers are half price. The menu is the same inside and on the deck. Only exception: You can’t get calamari outside. But you can order it inside and bring it out yourself. Why? Who knows? With a full sushi menu as well as live bands in summer and a great post-happy-hour sunset, you might as well stay late. 954 Ocean Dr., Cape May
Vic & Anthony’s
This elegant bar at the Golden Nugget is the clear winner in the casino division. Happy hour (4 to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday) features $1 oysters, $2 shrimp, $6 calamari, $8 steak tartare, and, my favorite, the $8 maple-glazed quail. Domestic beers are $4, specialty beers are $5, martinis and drinks are $8. Be wary of the powerful Little Italy Manhattan, which is for happy-hour pros only. Perhaps there’s such a thing as too much happiness. Huron and Brigantine Boulevard, Atlantic City
The Claridge Hotel’s rooftop indoor-outdoor bar with ocean views is the newcomer to the scene. It boasts a 4 to 7 p.m. happy hour Sunday to Thursday, with $5 specialty drinks based on a Boardwalk Empire theme, $5 for five wings, and house wine and domestic beer. There are bar bites galore, and a lovely view of that unmistakably happy Claridge silhouette reflected in the Bally’s facade. Say hello to bartender Mortimer, who appeared on the HBO show himself. 114 S. Indiana Ave., Atlantic City
No Shower Happy Hour at the Ocean Drive (aka the O.D.)
Visit for the concept alone. Every Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m., music, flip-flops, bathing suits, cover bands — whatever. Also available for your classic Jersey enjoyment, its companion happy hour, the Sunday Jam. 3915 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City