Getting a buzz on is a fantastic feeling, and yet it's only half as intoxicating as saving money. Better still is that magical hour when both sensations are amplified, a mythical half-state when it's close to midnight, your buzz is waning, there's only one crushed fiver left in your dungarees, and you're plotting your next deal.
We're here to decode that elusive bang-to-buck ratio for all you moonlit ramblers and gamblers. Here are the best bets for late-night happy hour in the Twin Cities.
Prices and menu items are subject to change.
11 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily
2551 Lyndale Ave. S., 612-354-7060
Stumbling distance from CC Club and Bulldog Uptown, Nightingale is way more upscale than its environs necessitate. With tufted leather barstools and sleek wooden chandeliers, it looks more like a West Elm than a Whittier bar. But Nightingale's 14(!) weekly hours of late-night deals offer an average discount of over 30 percent off the regularly priced epicurean fare. This place blows budget watering holes out of the water in the midnight hour.
It's too bad the burger/fries/Hamm's combo that makes their afternoon happy hour so popular isn't offered at night, but their famous fries with malt vinegar aioli ($4, 33 percent off), chicken wings ($7, 22 percent off), and bruschettas ($5.50, 27 percent off) are handily discounted, as are rail drinks and tap beers ($3.50, 42 percent off). Overall, this is a great stop if you feel like redeeming your Friday with some upscale grub and cocktails.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 4:1
Pair this: The daily cocktail is one of those $5 cocktails you can trust. It's usually 90 percent alcohol and goes great with $2 oysters — a perfect aphrodisiac for some late-night canoodling.
9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tues. to Fri.
4244 Nicollet Ave., 612-208-0720
Nothing feels more comfortable than saving a buck on getting blotto, and south Minneapolis scratch-cookin' kitchen the Lowbrow knows this better than most. Though here the miracle of late-night happy hour is celebrated only eight hours each week, the discounts on craft beer ($2 off drafts) and wine are generous enough to make you feel the warmth.
There's a bevy of rib-sticking snacks to help you power through the spins, like Asian pork sliders ($8.50) or bison chili cheese fries ($6.25 or $8.25), though you won't get them for any cheaper after the sun retreats. Luckily, the famous nachos (50 percent off) are available on the cheap, meaning you don't have to pay full price for the grease your stomach needs.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 5:3
Pair this: Wine and nachos. A glass of Protocolo Blanco seems fancy even though it costs $3 and you've been using it to rinse seasoned pork nachos ($4.88 for a half order, $6.50 for a full order) down your gullet.
Stanley's Northeast Bar Room
10 p.m. to midnight daily
2500 University Ave. NE, 612-788-2529
Stanley's NE is more than just the spot where you can drink with your dog, it's also a great place to score barbecue and beer when all the Northeast taprooms are shut down. You can show up to Stanley's damn near any time after dark and expect to get a deal cut your way. Apps are cheapened in tiers, with small guys like fries and tots coming in at a meager $3, mini corn dogs and cheese curds running $4, quesadillas and chicken tenders $5, and BLTs and onion rings $6. These prices go into effect at 10 p.m. on normal days, but if you're a middle-of-the-week kind of barfly, deals are good all day on Wednesday.
The booze discount is a simple and indiscriminate $1 off all beer, wine, and cocktails after 10 p.m. every day. You can't drink for full price after 10 p.m. on any day, and that's valid 'til midnight, even on weekends. What a heavenly concept.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 3:1
Pair this: The $6 beer-battered mushrooms (normally $9.50) are a great balance of grease and gourmand, especially when they're plated next to a sweating 20-ounce pour of Stanley's Shandy ($4.75, $1 off).
10 p.m. to midnight Tues. to Sun.
3501 Nicollet Ave., 612-345-5583
Sometimes it's easy to forget Hola Arepa makes more than one thing. While the arepas — the Colombian/Venezuelan cornmeal sandwiches the Kingfield restaurant has staked its name on — are culinary miracles, they're also dense. If you indulge after 10 p.m., you're knocking back the food equivalent of an Ambien. That's why Hola's glorious late-night menu (which is in play 12 hours per week) includes more pliable snacks like yuca fries ($4, $1 off) and chips and a trio of salsas ($3, $2 off).
Oh, and of course there's the booze. Hola is famous for its brunch bloodies, but the old fashioned ($6, 25 percent off) — which subs in anejo rum for half the whiskey in the recipe — is an equally tempting turn on a classic. If you're not into spirits, local standbys like Indeed Shenanigans and Steel Toe Size 7 come off the taps at $3.50 (42 percent off), and house wines are only a few shillings more at $4 ($2 to $2.50 off).
Bang-to-buck ratio: 4:1
Pair this: On a warm night, take to the patio for arepitas (little corn balls stuffed with goat cheese and jalapenos, $6) and seasonal sangria ($6, $2 off), a combo that nearly totals the price of a dinnertime arepa.
Bradstreet Neighborhood Craftshouse
9 p.m. to midnight Sun. to Thurs.
9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fri. and Sat.
1930 Hennepin Ave., 612-871-1200
Bradstreet's mission is to be the best neighborhood bar in all of Minneapolis. The recently minted Lowry Hill "craftshouse" is well on its way to being a favorite stop for those with a hankering and barely more than lint in their pockets. With a looming patio expansion, they'll soon extend their drink offerings to an even larger crowd of cheapskates — especially on Friday and Saturday, when they drop prices for an astonishing five hours both nights. How many happy hours do you know in the Cities that go straight through to the witching hour?
The general managers at Bradstreet just unveiled a new late-night menu earlier this month, and it's somehow even better than their historically kind price list. The Sophisticati ($5) returns, a favorite among patrons of the craft lounge in the Graves Hotel, and this time it's joined by $6 draft cocktails. Yes, these are cocktails on tap, an innovation to help lessen the burden on Bradstreet's drinkmakers, who are obsessively exact. If you feel like saying thank you to the staff, share the happy hour love by paying $10 to buy the kitchen a six-pack of Hamm's.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 4:1
Pair this: Upcycle your whole goddamn evening. A Sophisticati — which is a Hamm's with a sidecar of Old Overholt Rye, Fernet Branca, or Cynar — and a plate of bacon candy ($6) is a master class in turning coal into diamonds.
10 p.m. to midnight daily
3758 Nicollet Ave. S., 612-236-4429
Late-night happy hour shouldn't be about sacrifices. This is a philosophy that Kingfield sushi bistro Kyatchi lives 14 hours per week, every week. With a slick, minimalist vibe, this authentic Japanese joint fills quickly for its after-work happy hour, but late at night, the stools and four-tops are cleared for savvy tipplers.
Kyatchi's exact happy hour offerings are hard to track, as the baseball-worshipping upstart's menus are subject to the whims of the chef. The tonkatsu sandwich ($5.50) is a common offering, as are various sushi rolls (choose from four varieties for $5-$8). The marquee item is the chirashi sashimi, which offers glistening, fresh, sustainable fish served over sushi rice for a measly $10. Sake and milky nigori sake are just $5. The prices aren't cut-rate (they top out around 20 percent off), but Kyatchi is a rare spot that doesn't discount quality along with the price.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 2:1
Pair this: A kimchi hot dog and Asian potato salad ($9) are great if you can't do raw sockeye or albacore at 11 p.m. That funky ballgame duo might not be marked down, but taps — including Insight Hell Chicken yuzu pale ale — are opened for $2 less.
Eat Street Social
10 p.m. to midnight Mon. to Fri.
18 W. 26th St., 612-767-6850
Bar close is a lot earlier in Minneapolis than it is in New York City, but you can still get a quintessentially Brooklyn drinking experience at this Whittier lounge. Typically, that includes the NYC price tag, but that's not the case during the 10 nighttime hours per week that Eat Street Social lowers the rates to let the bargain-hunting riff raff in.
Cocktails are knocked down to the $4 to $7 range and sangria pours are $5 per glass. On busy nights, they'll open the curtain to the tiki bar, where you can enjoy $1 off tap selections in the shadow of a stuffed marlin. Purchasing a $10 bottle of wine at the right time can keep that happy-hour feeling rolling past the midnight deadline right up until last call.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 5:2
Pair this: Get the $5 fried calamari and a $6 Spring Fever, for a total savings of $11. Just note that the kitchen isn't always open past 11 p.m.
8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sun. to Thurs.
8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fri. and Sat.
719 S. Second St., 612-465-8303
While Kindee's name literally translates to "eat good" in English, the Mill District Thai stop is also the place to have a good drink after dinner hours. Feeling something like an IKEA in Bangkok, the Downtown East eatery is adorned with khom loi lanterns and serves gussied-up versions of pad see yew and Thai curries. Though happy hour is a measly half-hour long five nights of the week, Kindee makes up for it with two hours of budget beer and wine ($3, $4, and $5, depending on brand) on the most important nights, Friday and Saturday.
During happy hour, you can really feel the kitchen staff's playfulness. Tamarind wings ($4, 43 percent off) and tempura sweet potatoes ($3, 40 percent off) are great examples of how Kindee infuses east Asian flavors into American comfort-food packaging. Choose a chilly bottle of TsingTao ($4) to pair with it or go with regional American adjunct favorite Mich Golden Light for a dollar less. The food sits at a happy crossroads of fine dining and takeout, which means even the drunkest version of you will be satisfied.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 3:2
Pair this: Cranberry cream cheese Wontons ($3, 50 percent off) are a rich, crushable interpretation of the Asian classic (they taste like a fried bagel). Go full authentic and order a super dry, pale Chang ($4, $2 off) to drink along with them.
Zen Box Izakaya
9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mon. to Thurs.
10 p.m. to midnight Fri. and Sat.
602 S. Washington Ave., 612-332-3936
The legends of kaiju and anime make for good company when you're enjoying ramen after dark. Although the original Zen Box closed after an 11-year tenure in the skyway in 2015, its action-figure-studded sister in Downtown East has become a yuppie haven for its quirky decor and deep nightly discounts.
Zen Box Izakaya's stingy single hour of late-night deals doubles on Friday and Saturday. This means you can nosh on a selection of 15 different $3, $4, or $5 apps in the presence of Ultraman and your favorite Cowboy Bebop characters. Traditional Japanese drinks like house sake and yogurty chu hai (both $5) match well with the selection of mini donburi rice bowls ($5), and Zen Box has probably the best vegetarian after-hours menu, with 60 percent of the happy hour offerings served sans meat.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 5:1
Pair this: A $4 Kirin Ichiban and a $5 chicken kara-age (50 percent off) is a hearty one-two combo that'll take the hanger out of your stupor before you Uber home to pass out.
10 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily
1834 St. Clair Ave., 651-699-5058
At Groveland Tap, it's basically happy hour from dinner to breakfast. And like its happy hour-happy sister restaurant the Lowry in Uptown, Groveland Tap is owned by Blue Plate Restaurants, a company that understands the siren song of ludicrously discounted alcohol. Freehouse (another Blue Plate outpost) and the Lowry have formidable deals, but the St. Paul side of the business sets the standard for practically giving away the bar after dark. Groveland is open 98 hours per week, and more than half of those hours feature specials on taps, wine, and beer snacks.
The only real knock against Groveland Tap is that they don't have a full liquor license, but with a sustained late-nighter like this one, you're gonna want something a little more sessionable than a Long Island iced tea. Everything that comes out of the fryer goes down in price 35 percent to 47 percent once happy hour kicks on, which makes Groveland tap the ideal place for eating after dark, even if the drink selection isn't as competitive.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 11:2
Pair this: Nothing will thwart your hangover better than Groveland's beer snacks, many of which come at a sinister $5 after 10 p.m. All Freehouse beers on the menu are knocked down to $2.50 (50 percent off), so pick your favorite as a digestif.
9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sun. and Mon.
9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tues. to Thurs.
9 p.m. to midnight Fri. and Sat.
360 St. Peter St., 651-223-7000
Rarely will you see a white-tablecloth Italian trattoria in the running for the best place to snack and sip late at night, but then again, not every Italian trattoria serves Tuscan chicken wings at a 58 percent markdown. That's what makes St. Paul eatery Pazzaluna such a fantastic outlier in the culinary world. You can scarf the classics like spaghetti bolognese and indulge in the wine list — one of the most comprehensive in the Twin Cities — or you can drag your knuckles over to the bar where finger foods like zucchini fries and spiced olives (both $5) and draft beer are king.
A huge knock against Pazzaluna's late-night price dive is that it doesn't include any drink specials. The afternoon happy hour (4 to 6 p.m. daily) cuts back on beer, wine, and cocktails, but after 9 p.m., only the food rings in at a lower rate. But holy shit, the food.
Roasted garlic and gorgonzola bruschetta is a creamy Mediterranean dream that's yours for only $5 ($7 off). Four-cheese, margherita, or rustica pizzas (normally $14-$16) are knocked back to $5 as well. In other words, the cutbacks on food are more than adequate to offset the cost of full-price drinking. Pazzaluna stipulates that you have to buy a drink to get the food deals, of course, but that was part of the plan already.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 3:2
Pair this: A Giant Stuffed Meatball gratuitously crammed with herbs and topped with sugo pomodoro sauce ($5, 50 percent off) is the ultimate prize at Pazzaluna. Pair it with any red from the bar's extensive wine list. Toss in another fiver to follow up with a chocolate versato ($2 off), you decadent bastard, you.
Blue Door Pub St. Paul
10 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily
1811 Selby Ave., 651-493-1865
Blue Door Longfellow has the longer happy hour, but with no wine or beer discounts, so the St. Paul location on Selby triumphs here. Blue Door is a comfortable little burger joint — the kind where you'd expect the meat to be red and the beer to be cheap. And that's the case every evening, even if it's for only nine hours per week.
Wings (30 percent off at $7 for a pound and a half) come in 11 flavors if you're lookin' to get dirty, and baskets of finger foods like fried pickles and zucchini fries retail for a Lincoln. We docked them some points for hosting a marginally better deal during the afternoon happy hour, but we love the spirit of this American classic: Get patrons loaded and fed.
Bang-to-buck ratio: 3:1
Pair this: Buffalo chicken totchos ($8, 20 percent off) are a Blue Door classic. Your Minnesotan palate will appreciate two or three $3.50 tap pilsners after a plate of those. The more of them you drink, the more you save, kind of.
Dark Horse Bar & Eatery
11 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily
250 E. Seventh St., 651-313-7960
Dark Horse is for late starters and late finishers. If you're the kind of adult who can make it to 11 p.m. without collapsing into the toilet bowl teeth-first, then you can probably appreciate the fact that Lowertown's buzzy new taphouse goes the distance to the legally mandated 2 a.m. last call on Friday and Saturday.
While late-night happy hour accounts for only 14 percent of Dark Horse's 107 weekly hours, they're a formidable 14 percent, and the bar's proximity to the Xcel Energy Center means it's always an option if you feel like taking your post-game buzz into overtime.
It's a shame that Dark Horse's daring artisan cocktails don't make the happy hour list, but there is a big break on Summit ($3.50, $2.50 off) and Henkell sparkling wine ($4, $3 off). Good news is you can have your druthers with their nouveau American food menu. Take, for example, their Korean barbeque mini shanks or their mango-jicama-dressed fish taco, both of which are cut down entree portions at a more digestible price ($5).
Bang-to-buck ratio: 3:1
Pair this: You and a friend can stifle the ennui of an overpriced Adele concert or a bitter Wild trouncing by splitting a cheese pizza ($8, $2 off) and a couple consolingly cheap New Belgium Fat Tires ($2.75 a can, a savings of 45 percent).