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When the clock strikes 5 p.m., the corporate crowd clocks out and bartenders clock in. And after a long, hard work day, there’s nothing quite like the affection of good company and a few laughs to go with some ice cold refreshments and finger-licking snacks to help take the edge off and put a smile on your face.
By Eddie Velosa
Let Jacksonville’s southern hospitality cater to what ails you, as happiness is always within arm’s reach at one of the many welcoming watering holes around the city. After all, all we really want in life is to be happy.
Find your happy place at one of these 15 Jacksonville hot spots, where the bar is always open for happy hour, no matter what neighborhood you’re in.
1. The Volstead
Prepare to indulge
The Volstead has fast become Jacksonville’s premier prohibition-style speakeasy. Its old-school jazz club vibe and high-end bourbon, whiskey and scotch, have captured the hearts of the coolest happy hour crowd east of the Mississippi. Drop in between Sunday and Thursday and enjoy drink specials from 4 to 6 p.m. and then again from 10 p.m. until close. If you’re feeling frisky, order the Baked Apple Sazerac (Bulleit Rye, Apple Pie Moonshine, Absinthe, cinnamon, brown sugar, bitters), sit back, and watch the light show—it’s something you’ll have to see to believe.
The premier nightlife experience unlike anything Jacksonville has ever seen
Step into Myth Nightclub and quickly realize you’re not in downtown Jacksonville anymore, but some unimaginable Shangri-La that instantaneously whisks you away to that very happy place. With opulent design elements and architecture inspired by some of the world’s top venues, Myth combines high-tech sophistication with an ultra chic, upscale lounge that massages the senses. Let the bartender lure you onto the dance floor with a lustful libation, or make your way out to the terrace set under a vibrant LED video ceiling and dotted with tiki huts—the only one of its kind in the whole city.
An amazing new eatery that takes creative mixology to a whole new level
Before surrendering yourself to a night of dancing at Myth, indulge at Element, (Myth’s partner-in-crime), where a dedicated lineup of world-class chefs combine locally sourced produce with a colorful cast of craft cocktails. It’s a spread like no other; from salads to wraps to paninis, soups, small plates and entrees—all of which are handmade, healthy and organic. Show up on a weekday from Tuesday through Friday for happy hour and enjoy a select specialty cocktail for just $5 to pair with your fare. All-in-all, Element is the perfect pre-game complement to Myth, the new happy hour/afterhours combo that has secured its place among Downtown’s elite nightlife and entertainment venues.
4. Dos Gatos
When your passion for drinking needs a home
If you’re looking for a happy hour with some character, Dos Gatos is your jam. Dubbed as Jacksonville’s original cocktail lounge, inked up bartenders and patrons embody the essence of this ’80s punk and rock-themed Downtown dive, where carefully handcrafted cocktails are tailored to tantalize your taste buds. Try their famous Orange Jalapeno Margarita. It has a kick, but it’s to die for.
5. Burrito Gallery
The tastiest margaritas this side of Mexico; now in Brooklyn
Already massively popular in the historical Northbank Core of Downtown, Burrito Gallery has now stuck its claim as the go-to Jax Mex joint in Brooklyn. Pair authentic Mexican burritos, tacos, enchiladas or ‘dillas together with killer house margaritas on tap, or bring an ice cold beer ($1 off for happy hour) outside to the patio and let the streetside vibe and open air ambiance inspire great conversation.
6. Black Sheep Restaurant
Locally sourced southern chow with a bangin’ rooftop view
The hype is real at this modern American restaurant in the Five Points district of Riverside. Fresh locally sourced ingredients are a staple here, but the rooftop bar and lounge is where the magic happens. Sky-high views of Downtown and the St. Johns River keep the happy hour crowd coming back at five o’clock before the sun sets. Plus, the bar menu is a gift from the gods. Try the Chicken Fried Sweet Bread Nuggets or the Florida Lobster Roll, and wash them down with a variety of artisan blends from behind the bar. We like the Dusty Boot (Buffalo Trace bourbon, simple syrup, lemon and lime juices, Jerry Thomas bitters, with a smoked sea salt and cracked black pepper rim).
7. Restaurant Orsay
French inspired. Southern influenced. Locally driven.
Take a slice of Paris and put it in Jacksonville, and voila—you have Orsay. The swanky French-American bistro crafts a range of cocktails as scintillating as the aura itself. Slide straight to the bar for a quaint aperitif or to fancy something shaken and refreshing or stirred and assertive. Order the Just Trust Me and let the bartender blend a specialty cocktail that’ll sing to your soul.
8. The Blue Fish Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Seafood and delicious drinks in beautiful Avondale
Found in the Shoppes of Avondale a historic neighborhood just west of Downtown, The Blue Fish serves a wide array of the freshest seafood available. It's time to enjoy an oyster bar without driving all the way to the beach! Happy Hour EVERY DAY from 3 - 6:30 p.m.
9. European Street Cafe
Two hundred beers and an eclectic selection of food
With more than 200 beers in stock, this original German-New York deli-style bar has long been a fixture in Riverside, and now has a devoted following throughout multiple neighborhoods across Jax. Grab a 22 oz. pilsner or a 2-for-1 draft during happy hour, which starts at 2 p.m. daily and 10 a.m. during football season. The kick is up and it’s good!
Locally-owned, thoughtfully-sourced & seriously delicious
Prati Italia is built on Chef Tom Gray's unique, but familiar, contemporary menu of Roman-Style pizzas, housemade pastas, and expertly-crafted artisan cocktails. The attention to ingredient flavor, sourcing, seasonality, and service hospitality help define Prati Italia as the premier local Italian restaurant in the Town Center and greater Jacksonville community. Enjoy Happy Hour EVERY DAY from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
11. Engine 15 Brewing Company
Get your Jax Ale Trail stamp on!
With over 50 types of craft beer on tap—including more than two dozen of their own microbrews—this Jacksonville Beach brewpub is the perfect spot to kick off your Jax Ale Trail adventure. After spending all day at the beach, flip-flop your way over to this five-barrel brewhouse pouring year-round, seasonal and limited specialty brews like Orange Cream Ale, Jacksonville Lemon Shandy, Watermelon Blonde, Double Drop IPA or Doolittle Saison Ale. And with so many different varieties to choose from, their $5 flights allow you to sample flavors from all around the world before you find the perfect cold one. Try their Liquid Lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and get an entree and a house Engine 15 draft beer for just $9.
12. Ocean 60
Fresh caught and homegrown seafood in Atlantic Beach
Enjoy half-off martinis and glasses of wine Monday thru Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. at this Mediterranean-style paradise at the Atlantic Beach Town Center. Feast on fresh seafood just steps from the ocean, where the naval boats of the Mayport hook the daily catch. Apps like Firecracker Shrimp, Cantonese Calamari and Seared Diver Scallops are plated to perfection, and if you’re in the mood for light live music and delicious cocktails, there’s no martini bar better by the beach.
Fish tacos, tequila and mezcal
This Jacksonville Beach taco shack started out as a simple taco stand in 2008, but has since evolved into one of the best Mexican joints in town. Here, the selection of tequila is unmatched, with some Blancos aged up to two months and Reposados for as many as 11. The result—a richer, smoother and more flavorful tasting experience. Enjoy their happy hour weekend brunch on the patio from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where it’s always bustling with beach goers and taco lovers. See you at the Lu!
An urban beer garden and cocktail bar in the heart of San Marco
Tucked in the corner of a renovated warehouse, Sidecar boasts a versatile selection of 20 drafts on tap and over 50 bottled beers. All of their cocktails are $10 and under, and the two specialty cocktails on tap are made fresh daily for happy hour. Try the John Shenk’s Redemption (Michter’s bourbon, Luxardo Amaretto, lemon, raspberry and egg white with black walnut bitters) and grab a slice of authentic Napoletana pie from V Pizza next door. Jump in this Sidecar and enjoy the ride.
The best $5 happy hour wines in San Marco
Taverna’s modern take on classic authentic Italian brings fresh seasonal flavors of regionally sourced produce and meats, and award-winning wines from the old country here to San Marco. The food menu runs the gamut from breakfast entrees and lunch salads to pasta, pizzas and classic sides. But if you swing by for happy hour, you are guaranteed to enjoy some of the world’s best tasting wines for just $5 a glass. Whether it be a Sangiovese from Italy or a Grenache Blanc from France, the husband-and-wife duo behind Taverna takes immense pride in making sure expectations are always high and the carefully curated wine doesn’t lie.
Are you smiling yet? For more suggestions on where to find your happy place, check out the Best Drinks in Jacksonville or the Jax Ale Trail and craft your own happy hour adventure. And don’t forget to Sip & Savor during Jacksonville Restaurant Week, which typically takes place in September.
Local Expert Guest