Happy Hour: Hors d’oeuvres Edition

We can thank Jimmy Buffet and Alan Jackson for the legendary revelation that points out, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” But this notion isn’t reserved for tropical getaways or weekends in Vegas. The happiest of hours in June can be spent in Wisconsin’s lounges, outdoor patios, pubs, bars and waterfront decks. Here you can find savvy 9–5’ers, adventurous twenty-somethings and stay-at-homers flock to their favorite destinations for mouthwatering appetizers, a gourmet taco bar, succulent sushi and saucy Mexican eats.

Sushi Bliss

With a happy hour fit for posh young professionals or a casual first date, Koko Sushi Bar & Lounge in Green Bay offers foodies an array of sushi plates at a mere $3-$7 each. Manager Michael Harrison says people come to grab a drink, gab and grab a bite. “It’s an upscale, sophisticated style of happy hour,” he says.

Nestle into the lounge from 4-6pm Monday through Thursday and choose from six different four-piece sushi rolls. Harrison suggests going for the best seller, Godzilla (Super White tuna maki tempura topped with mild spiced crab mixture, regularly $10) or a delish California Roll (Kani-kama, avocado, cucumber, tobiko, regularly $5).

Pair any roll with a discounted fresh-fruit mojito or glass of wine and you’re on your way.

Another sushi bar that does “happy” right is Nakashima of Japan. With spreads in Appleton and Green Bay (including its sister restaurant Katsu-Ya located downtown Appleton), chances are this sweet spot is a convenient after-work respite.

Visit any location 4:30-6:30pm Monday through Thursday, plus Sunday at Katsu-Ya, to enjoy 30 percent off select sushi and $1-off Saki samplers.

Manager Tim Nakashima says happy hour includes sushi rolls under “Veggie” and “Original” on Nakashima’s take-out menu, such as the Veggie Curry Roll (cucumber, avocado, asparagus, cream cheese, cilantro, rolled in sesame and curry sauce) for just $3.85, and the Negihamachi Roll (yellow tail, green onion, wasabi) at $3.32.

An Outdoor Delight

Feigning for a waterfront view to go with your post-work wind down?

With happy hour seven days a week, from 3-6pm, Becket’s lounge and outdoor patio in Oshkosh is always abuzz – especially Thursday when Waterfest’s live music is waking up the neighborhood just a few boat-slips down the Fox River.

“We have happy hour all night long on Thursdays,” says owner Kris Larson. Before Waterfest, patrons enjoy half-priced appetizers, like the Tenderloin Lollipops ($5 during happy hour), Fish Tacos ($3.50) or Seared Ahi Tuna ($5.50). Paired with $2 rail mixers, $2 house wine and $2 pints of Becket’s 15 specialty tap beers, it’s a deal you can’t pass up.

In downtown Neenah, Cannova’s Pizzeria and Fine Italian Cuisine is also serving up irresistible happy hour eats. For Italian lovers, all-you-can-eat pasta or spaghetti ($10.95) on Sunday nights helps save you a “penne” or two!

And though road construction on Wisconsin Avenue continues, Cannova’s is worth the trip. To make things fun, they’ll feature a Jack Hammer martini. The bar will also open a half-hour earlier for happy hour at 4:30pm.

Owner Kyle Rasmus says drink and beer specials rotate each night, and they’ll likely bring back half-priced bottles of wine.

In Menasha, Naut’s Landing’s happy hour is eco-friendly. To prevent food waste, owners Renee and Rick Brey only set out hors d’oeuvres free of charge when groups call ahead. “It’s my way of being able to get people ‘happy’ when they stop in without worrying about throwing away tons of food,” Renee says.

On the deck or inside, Naut’s features $2.50 margaritas, $1.75 rail high balls and $1.75 pints. And on Thursday “pizza nights,” Italian rules. For just $17.99 guests get a two-topping large pizza, garlic bread, pitcher of soda and up to four ice cream sundaes.

The Bar on the Avenue also packs prime-time fun with a flavorful punch. With outdoor seating available, the place hops with happy hour hopefuls Monday through Friday, 3-7pm. Their summer specials include $4.49 appetizers, such as Loaded Potato Skins, Homemade Jumbo Meatballs and Crostini, and various styles of Chicken Sliders. “Throw in two-for-one cocktails, fun music and great service and customers feel they can’t go wrong,” owner Chris Kafka says.

Still want more? Nab $5 house margaritas, $6 Cazadores ‘ritas and $3 Corora/Corona Light bottles on Fridays all summer long.

There’s rarely an empty seat on Clear Water Harbor’s outdoor deck in Waupaca. On Thursdays, the Harbor goes beyond nightly food and appetizer specials (announced daily) with “Martinis and a Massage.” Guests enjoy sumptuous martinis from $3.50 to $4.50 and $1-a-minute de-stressing chair massages overlooking the water, with a local masseuse. “It’s a great place to come and unwind after a day of work,” says manager Maureen Mondello.

Anduzzi’s Sports Club in Green Bay and Appleton offers extended happy hour from 1-7pm Monday through Thursday and 1-6pm Friday. Relish in complimentary taco and nacho bars, chicken wings and pizza, depending on the night. On Wednesdays, it’s chef’s choice.

“Guests get to sample stuff that will be on our next menu,” says Appleton Anduzzi’s general manager Michael Tomasik, whose College Avenue location also features outdoor seating.

Once the clock has put the kibosh on happy hour, Anduzzi’s springs another tasty surprise. After-happy hour specials include 25-cent wings, $1 burgers and $1 fries on select nights. Thirsty? Don’t miss $3 martinis on Thursday and $3 Build Your Own Blood Mary bar from 11am-4pm Saturday.

Eat. Drink. Relax. Sounds like a holiday, right? Well, then Holidays Pub and Grill is your haunt! Whether you fancy ethnic or American cuisine, this Neenah pub and grill has happy hour dialed in.

From 3-6pm Monday and Tuesday, try dollar-off appetizers like “Kettle Brau” White Cheddar Cheese Curds (only $5.79) or Boneless Wings ($6.49). On Thursday, dive into $8.99 chicken and steak fajitas. The eatery also serves up $5 quarter-pound burger baskets with the purchase of a beverage Monday through Friday, general manager Ron Butkus says. Top that with live music on the roof and $3 margaritas and Corona beers Thursday, and you’ve really got yourself a happy hour holiday.

Margaritas & Mexican Eats

Happy hour is a whole other world at Sangria’s Mexican Grill of Oshkosh. “When you walk in the door, you feel you’ve transported to another place,” says owner/manager Shirley Gregory.

With food and drink specials comes impressive presentation—flaming dishes, Mexican décor and festive music. Loaded Bar Nachos are just $3, and dunk into the free salsa and bean dip with handmade chips, Monday through Friday from 3-7pm. Happy hour goes all day Monday and Thursday, too, with two-for-one margaritas and half-off house sangria.

Margaritas are prized at Appleton’s family-owned Señor Tequila’s. In summer, the indoor tiki bar and outdoor patio are full from 3-5pm Monday through Friday, with guests enjoying small to jumbo ‘ritas on the rocks at a friendly happy-hour price. “Every summer it gets busier and busier,” says owner Alejandro Lopez.

Also on the menu is half-priced appetizers like flautitas ($3), queso con chili ($3) and Queso Fundido ($3.50).

—By Sarah Owen

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