The Happy Hour – we all know it’s an elusive beast that must be ridden carefully, for our own safety. But my philosophy follows that classic saying: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When London gives you Happy Hours, do a bar crawl and get completely Hobnobbed. A natural progression, no…?
Sometimes a good night doesn’t even have to start well. When I texted my friend with: ‘Ring me when you’re here and I’ll find you’, my phone immediately chose to die at 42% battery (yes, it’s an iPhone) and the situation was not ideal. Waving across the road (too enthusiastically to recover from) at someone who turned out to be a stranger was also not ideal. Let’s just say I wasn’t expecting good things. But when the bright lights of Shell brought us together just ten minutes later than planned (which is actually termed ‘early’ among most of the people I know), I dropped the sulk, stopped swearing at my useless piece of sh-rubbish phone and got stuck into the surprise marriage to an Indian bus driver (seriously, I had no idea Claire was even engaged…)
With such important matters at hand, Happy Hour was the logical step. We made our way to the clowninest bar in Shoreditch – the circus themed, prop-hung weirdo that is Trapeze. Cocktails were a fiver between 5 and 8pm (not just one happy hour, ohnonono) and we weren’t shy about exploiting the deal for all it was worth. You’re planning a trip to Australia next year? Well let’s toast to Oz with a China Blue! (I know, Asia and Oz seemed closer to each other at the time…) You’ve got an assignment next week? Poor you, here have the Would I Lychee to You. Minus a blue tongue (something to remember if you’re out on a date, ladies and gents…) it was all scrumptious, served in jam jars (the Shoreditch way) and generous enough with the booze (if I remember rightly…). Obviously we got carried away with the usual lolbantz and catch ups and 8pm rolled around before our third round (the horror). Learn from our mistakes, kids, it was a rookie error. Take charge of your Happy Hours. Needless to say, we were straight out of there by 8.04pm and were seated comfortably in that good old fave, B@1, by 8.11. All you have to do with this place (which is about to become your favourite) is download their app and you get an hour of 2-4-1 cocktails – you don’t need to be confined to no schedule you independent go-getters. And with one word, I can explain how this place changed my life forever: Popster. This drink is not just a drink. Oh god it’s so much more. Put butterscotch schnapps with half a bag of sweet and salty popcorn and plenty of ice cream together in a blender, top the resulting libation with a handful of that cinema snack and you have a dessert, a treasure, the queen of all cocktails. You will never turn back. I know what you’re thinking – popcorn is that capitalist trick by bars, the free snack that gets you thirsty and craving more and more drinks – but this sweet sweet savior is the perfect icon of The Happy Hour we all crave – experimental, alcoholic and extremely indulgent. And this one’s a drink and a course all in one – uber economical, eh?
Inevitably, after some shameful selfies, a bit of proactive flirting with those drink deity bar hunks and too many tipples later, the night wound up in that early hours cliche – the kebab shop, where a heart-to-heart about the importance of greasy food in day-to-day happiness makes life-long friends out of any two humans capable of holding polystyrene trays of chips and limp meat strips. It’s simple, folks. You don’t need a heaving bank balance, a big partay of peeps or even a weekend – you just need an early start, a quality drinking partner who won’t jump the sinking ship and hella water in between each drink.