Oysters and the Little Giant Spritz are on special on Shucking Sundays. Photo courtesy of Little Giant

I don’t know about you, but in my apartment, happy hour has been known to happen at any time on any day since I began isolating in mid-March. An accidentally oversized order of mozzarella sticks from BJ’s may have contributed to this situation. But with no clear end to the pandemic in sight, it’s probably time to scale happy hour back to just a few select times a week – and to leave it to the professionals. Happy hour specials slowly reemerged after restaurants reopened in June, and now there are enough that you can take your pick.

Note that, given the pandemic, establishments are constantly having to evolve while they determine what works for them and their customers while still following COVID protocols, so please give places some grace if some of the details have changed by the time you show up. Several of the places I talked to emphasized that, contrary to what the phrase “happy hour” used to imply, they are most definitely not packing people in – they are still following strict social distancing policies and procedures. Many of their websites outline what those measures are.

Finally, as one restaurant owner noted, much uncertainty exists over what will happen in the coming months, so if there’s a place you want to make sure is still around after winter, giving them some business now, while you can still sit outside, might make all the difference.

The Smoked Old Fashioned from AC Lounge. Photo by Harrison Pollack photo

AC Lounge
AC Hotel, 158 Fore St., Portland, (207) 747-1640, marriott.com

WHEN: 4-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 2-6 p.m. Friday through Sunday
WHAT: A selection of $6 signature cocktails, such as the Smoked Old Fashioned and a hand-muddled Maine blueberry mojito; $5 local draft beer and glasses of red and white wine; rotating small plates and snacks, such as a $7 Sriracha chicken salad croissant and $7 house guacamole with chips
TIP: In addition to the modern, airy vibe of its indoor seating area, the AC Lounge has outdoor waterfront seating.


Bueno Loco
240 Route 1, Falmouth, (207) 619-7057, buenolocorestaurante.com

WHEN: 4-6:15 p.m. Monday through Friday
WHAT: $6 house margaritas, $3 Pacifico and Modelo, $4 house red and white wines, free chips and salsa, $6 appetizers including chicken wings, cheese quesadillas, mini chimis and chicken tacos
TIP: New owners took over this spring and say the margaritas are made “delicious and strong,” so if you take advantage of the free chips and a cheap app, “you can walk out with a full belly and a little buzz for $12.”


Margaritas from Coppersmith Tavern & Table. Photo courtesy of Coppersmith Tavern & Table

Coppersmith Tavern & Table
671 Main St., South Portland, (207) 835-7015, coppersmithtavern.com

WHEN: 2-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
WHAT: $2 PBR and Tecate, $2.50 domestic beers (draft or bottle), $3 Twisted Tea, $4 Fireball and Dr. McGillicuddy’s shots, $5 well drinks, $5 house margaritas
TIP: The bartending team at Coppersmith particularly enjoys creating different margaritas. I particularly enjoy drinking different margaritas.


22 Monument Square, Portland, (207) 773-4340, davidsrestaurant.com

WHEN: 2-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday
WHAT: $6.50 Cosmos, spicy margaritas and Old Fashioneds; $6 red Sangria; $6 well Manhattans and martinis; $5 house wines; $4 Allagash White on draft; $3 Shipyard Summer on draft; $5-$8 snacks, such as hand-cut truffle chips with coconut chili dip, crispy calamari and a seafood cake of the day served with a sauce of the day and quick pickles
TIP: The star of this happy hour is the $5.75 crispy tater tots with roasted poblano crème de brie, but pretty much everything on the happy hour snacks menu sounds incredible. (I’m looking at you, pepperoni garlic knot sliders!)


Dunstan Tap & Table
6 Stewart Drive, Scarborough, (207) 219-8024, dunstantapandtable.com

WHEN: 3-5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday
WHAT: $5 well drinks, Allagash White and house wine; $5 shrimp taco, pretzel with mustard, chicken wings and poutine; $7 12-inch pizza
TIP: The cozy Adirondacks and fire pit are a terrific place to kick back and relax while enjoying the popular $5 chicken wings with sauces made from scratch. Reservations strongly recommended.


East Ender
47 Middle St., Portland (207) 879-7669, eastenderportland.com

WHEN: 3:30-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
WHAT: $6 drafts (a curated selection of local and artisanal draft beers), $8 signature seasonal cocktails, $2 PBR
TIP: Don’t miss the Uncle Henry’s Tonic, a fun, stylized riff on Maine’s beloved Allen’s Coffee Brandy. They milk-wash the Allen’s to clarify it, then serve it with tonic water and lemon in a nod to the current espresso and tonic trend.


El Rayo Taqueria
26 Free St., Portland, (207) 780-8226; 245 Route 1, Scarborough, (207) 883-8226; elrayotaqueria.com

WHEN: 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
WHAT: $5 house margarita and Sangria, $2 Mexican lagers (Tecate Pacifico and Sol)
TIP: This information applies to both the Portland and Scarborough locations. Also, the 8226 in the phone number spells TACO!


The Highroller Lobster Co.
104 Exchange St., Portland, (207) 536-1623, highrollerlobster.com

WHEN: 3-6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday
WHAT: $2 20-ounce Modelo or Pacifico, $5 18-ounce house margarita, $5 corn dog, $10 beef crunchwrap, $15 coconut lobster tails with house pineapple and lime mayos, $20 lobster crunchwrap
TIP: Inspired by the world-class dish from Taco Bell, the crunchwrap has been a fan favorite since Highroller’s food cart days.


A $10 deal on rose and a lobster roll makes reservations necessary at Inkwell in the Press Hotel. Photo courtesy of Inkwell

Press Hotel, 119 Exchange St., Portland, (207) 808-8800, thepresshotel.com

WHEN: 4-7 p.m. daily
WHAT: $3 Allagash on draft, $6 wines, $1 oysters Friday through Sunday, $10 rosé and lobster roll combo Monday through Thursday
TIP: In keeping with the Press Hotel’s news media theme (as the former home of the Portland Press Herald), the Inkwell’s happy hour is called “Off the Record.” Reservations recommended (no surprise, given the great “rosé and a roll” deal).


Legends Rest Taproom
855 Main St., Westbrook, (207) 591-0283, legendsrest.com

WHEN: 1-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 2-9 p.m. Sunday
WHAT: $2 off craft pints, $2 Budweiser pints, $3 Sierra Nevada Pale Ales and Shiner Bock Tallboys, $5 Ice Pik vodka drinks, $6 frozen drinks, $5 twin red hot dogs, $2 off wings and nuggets
TIP: Just down the street from Mast Landing Brewing Co., Legends recommends pairing a Mast Landing IPA with its Firecracker wings, a mix of heat and sweet that most people can handle. Hotter sauces and rubs are available for braver palates.

Wings and a draft beer at Legends Rest in Westbrook. Photo courtesy of Legends Rest Taproom

Little Giant
211 Danforth St., Portland, (207) 747-5045, littlegiantmaine.com

WHEN: 5-9 p.m. Sunday
WHAT: $6 Little Giant Spritz (Aperol Spritz), $2 oysters
TIP: Little Giant plans to continue these so-called Shucking Sundays as long as the weather cooperates and has heat lamps to help.


Luke’s Lobster
60 Portland Pier, Portland, (207) 274-6097, lukeslobster.com

WHEN: 2-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday (beginning Sept. 21)
WHAT: Half off select beers, $5 house wine, specially curated cocktails and small plate specials
TIP: Located directly on the working waterfront with an outdoor deck and balcony.


Magnus on Water
12 Water St., Biddeford, (207) 494-9052, magnusonwater.com

WHEN: 4-5 p.m. Sunday
WHAT: Half off all wine (bottles and glasses)
TIP: Chill vibe and a great patio.


Maine Craft Distilling
123 Washington Ave., Portland, mainecraftdistilling.com

WHEN: 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday
WHAT: $5 boozy slushies, $5 draft beers, $4 canned cocktails
TIP: Purchase bottled spirits and hand sanitizer in the retail store.


North 43 Bistro
1 Spring Point Drive, South Portland, (207) 747-4009, north43bistro.com

WHEN: 3-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
WHAT: $6 margaritas and Cosmos; $3 Bud Light, Miller Lite and PBR; $6 select draft beers; $7 house wines; $5 house-made focaccia; $9 guacamole; $10 crispy cauliflower bites; $10 mussels with house-made focaccia
TIP: Decks and lower patio overlook Casco Bay.


The North Point
35 Silver St., Portland, (207) 899-3778, northpointportland.com

WHEN: 5-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday
WHAT: $7 wines; $10 cocktail of the day; select $6 appetizers, including its popular spinach artichoke dip and chicken skewers
TIP: This happy hour is just getting its start after Labor Day, so some of the specials may evolve. Enjoy those specials on the patio on Milk Street.


Old Port Sea Grill
93 Commercial St., Portland, (207) 879-6100, oldportseagrill.com

WHEN: 3-5 p.m. Thursday through Monday
WHAT: $5 Cosmos and Manhattans, select $4 draft beers, select $6 wines, $14 for six oysters
TIP: Happy hour specials are available, not only in the bar and lounge, but also in the dining room and on the patio.


Boogie beers are $1 off during happy hour at The Portland Zoo. Photo courtesy of The Portland Zoo

The Portland Zoo
41 Fox St., Portland, (207) 536-0166, theportlandzoo.com

WHEN: 3-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday
WHAT: $1 off all Portland Zoo Boogie Beers
TIP: Outdoor beer garden with soul, funk, and hip hop music.


72 Commercial St., Portland, (207) 761-4446, rira.com

WHEN: 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursdays, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
WHAT: $5 Sangria, Lagunitas, Allagash, 50 Hombres, Bell’s Two Hearted, Smithwick’s Ale, Magners Irish cider and Tito’s; $7 Irish chili dog, venison tacos, fried pickles, pulled pork sliders and chili cheese fries
TIP: Seating available on patio or indoors overlooking the harbor – perfect for enjoying that unique Irish chili dog (grilled sausage, venison chili, shredded cheese and pickled jalapenos).


2 Hat Trick Drive, Falmouth, (207) 747-4020; 10 Cotton St., Portland, (207) 774-6044; rivalriesmaine.com

WHEN: 4-6 p.m. daily
WHAT: $2 Budweiser and Bud Light pints and bottles, $5 well drinks and house wines; in Falmouth, $6 Buffalo cauliflower with fried pickles, $7 loaded fries, $8 nachos; in Portland, $5 for two tacos, $8 lobster Rangoon
TIP: The two locations have completely different food menus, so I guess you’re going to have to try them both. You know, for research.


Shays Grill Pub
18 Monument Square, Portland, (207) 772-2626, shaysgrillpub.com

WHEN: 2-4 p.m. Monday through Friday
WHAT: $1 off specialty cocktails (not including $5 martinis), $5 Allagash White cans, $1 off appetizers
TIP: Shay’s motto is “Good Food. Good People. Good Times.” It prides itself on providing great service in a laid-back environment.


Three of Strong Spirits
35B Diamond St., Portland, (207) 899-4930, threeofstrongspirits.com

WHEN: Noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday
WHAT: $1 off kegged cocktails
TIP: The Muthah Truckah food truck will be on site selling its griddled sandwiches. Pair the Lola (roasted turkey, cheddah cheese, house-made bacon jam) with a $5 Limonito (lemon, mint and Brightwater rum).


106 Exchange St., Portland, (207) 805-1469, timbersteakhouse.com

WHEN: 4-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday
WHAT: $7.50 glasses of wine (selection of 30); $4 Shipyard Export drafts; $7 daily premium cocktail made with top-shelf alcohol; $8 appetizer specials, such as teriyaki beef skewers, mini smoked duck and cheese board, and steak tip chili with cheese fries.
TIP: Maine’s only all-Prime, 100% Black Angus steakhouse, Timber also has the state’s largest collection of bourbons. Its fruit purees and sour mixes are made in house, and all juices are fresh-pressed. Reservations highly recommended.


182 Ocean Ave., Portland, (207) 358-7970, tiporestaurant.com

WHEN: 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
WHAT: $6 drinks (Aperol Spritz, draft prosecco, select wines, draft beers); $5 or $8 snacks, such as sardines, meatballs, arancini, pizza and paninis
TIP: Italian-inspired neighborhood spot with a lovely patio.


327 Commercial St., Portland, (207) 808-8840, tiqa.net

WHEN: 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
WHAT: $1 off all drafts, $5 house red and white wine, $5 prosecco, half-price select bar plates
TIP: Tiqa is known for its pan-Mediterranean flavor profiles, so don’t miss the hummus. One of my favorite patios in Portland.


Get $3 off meat and cheese boards during Tuscan Table’s happy hour. Photo courtesy of Tuscan Table

Tuscan Table
390 Gorham Road, South Portland, (207) 536-0240, tuscantablemaine.com

WHEN: 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
WHAT: $2 off wine and draft beer (six are Maine craft beers), $2 off draft prosecco, occasional cocktail specials, $3 off meat and cheese boards
TIP: Tuscan Table recently added seven outdoor tables. A happy-hour favorite is the rotating cheese board, which includes a local honey, a house jam, house-made crostini and roasted nuts.


Wilson County Barbecue
82 Hanover St., Suite 8, Portland, (207) 956-7788, wilsoncountybarbecue.com

WHEN: Noon to 10 p.m. Monday, 2-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
WHAT: $5 wines, $5 house draft beer, $3 Miller High Light on draft, $5 snack items
TIP: Pit-smoked North Carolina BBQ. Check out the new chicken and waffles snack while relaxing in the spacious interior or on the dog-friendly patio. Under no circumstances should you leave without trying the buttermilk biscuits.


The Yard
82 Hanover St., Suite 7, Portland, (207) 466-4040, yardportland.com

WHEN: 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday
WHAT: $4.50 well drinks and house wine, $5 Lone Pine, $6 Cosmos, $3 house chips with jalapeno dressing, $4 tacos, $6 pretzels with mustard, $8 S’mores board, $8.50 BLT with house chips
TIP: While you’re enjoying either the patio or the indoor seating, add pub cheese to your BLT and pair it with the $6 Cosmo for a phenomenal flavor combination.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

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