Happy Hour capital of North America is where?

Bet you can’t guess where the Happy Hour Capital of North America is?  It is definitely not in one of the 23 US states that have banned happy hours. And, it is also not in Alberta where, in 2008, the Alberta Liquor Board set strict pricing guidelines for all drinks limiting Happy Hour pricing to 8pm. So where is it? 

The Sauce magazine waiting for us with some other goodies at Hotel Monaco, Seattle.

Happy Hour Fun

One of the take-away memories of a recent trip to Seattle was the Happy Hour Experience. A magazine called “The Sauce (The Definitive Guide to Eating and Drinking in Seattle)” provided us with a comprehensive list of all Seattle Happy Hours - I stopped counting at 600.

Arriving on a Wednesday at the historic Mayflower Park Hotel we were informed there are two Happy Hours – one in their Oliver’s Bar where there were free appies and one with free wine tasting in their lovely Andaluca Restaurant.  

Mayflower Park Hotel's Oliver's Bar before happy hour. 

Happy hour at Andaluca restaurant in Mayflower Park Hotel is very civilized. 

A few days later, when we moved to the  Hotel Max iknown for its incredible contemporary art collection, we found out they have a free craft beer Happy Hour.  Yes, every day, guests wander back to the hotel lobby (aka living room) to enjoy free draft beer, meet and chat with strangers and watch the wonderful sidewalk ballet on the street outside through the big picture windows.  The early birds get the good seats, as this quickly becomes a standing room only event.

The Happy Hour fun didn’t stop there. The Hotel Monaco with its captivating, comfy guest rooms (ours being like an Andy Warhol installation with lots of bold accent colours, playful art and cloud wallpaper over the bed) was tough to leave. But again, a free wine tasting downstairs was too big a draw. Each day. The concierge picks a different wine to feature; often sourcing wines from boutique Washington wineries. And with very liberal pours he invites you to comeback for seconds. 

Samuel Beckett watches over happy hour at Hotel Max. 

Everyone loves happy hour at Hotel Monaco often moving to the restaurant and their signature cocktail the Sazerac (Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, Peychaud's Bitters, Sugar, Lemon Peel and Absinthe Rinse. photo credit: Evan Johnson

 A full pour at Hotel Monaco.

 A full pour at Hotel Monaco.

YYC Happy Hour Fun

Calgary is not without its Happy Hour culture. Ask around and you will discover Calgary’s after work socializing is on the rise. Hotel Arts, on Thursdays from 4 to 8 pm, offers free live music curated by local singer/songwriter Amy Thiessen paired with $4.99 pints and trendy RAW Bar cuisine. 

Mikey’s Juke Joint in SunAlta offers a Friday Happy Hour with free live music.  A musician from Mikey’s stable of musicians hosts each one, including two of Calgary’s most talented musicians - Tim Williams (winner of the 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis) and Steve Pineo (Calgary's entry into the 2015 International Blues Challenge).

Google "Calgary Happy Hour" and you won't find a comprehensive list of 600 happy hours anywhere, the best I could find was a November 4, 2014 list by John Gilchrist, published in Avenue Magazine title "25 of Calgary's Best Happy Hours."  

Calgary is a changing…

For a long time, Calgary’s downtown and surrounding urban neighbourhoods were criticized for not having a robust, after work Happy Hour culture like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver do.  In the mid to late 20th century, Calgary’s downtown workers were commonly known to quickly flee to the ‘burbs after work. However, this had changed significantly in the past decade with the emergence of Stephen Avenue Walk (SAW) as one of Canada’s best restaurant rows.  The 300 block of SAW, with its 200 floors of offices, is centre ice for downtown GABEters (geologists, accountants, bankers, brokers, engineers) with the likes of The Metropolitan Grill and Local on 8th. 

The 21st century has also seen the emergence of Calgary’s Beltline as one of North America’s best urban communities with its warehouses along 10th Avenue (replacing 11th Avenue or Electric Avenue as it was known in the ‘80s) as the hangout spot for the “young and restless.” Here, mega beer palaces like CRAFT Beer Market, National Beer Hall and Commonwealth Bar and Stage are bustling places helped by the fact the Beltline is a haven for 25 to 34-year olds in Calgary (a whopping 43% of the communities population falls into that YUPPIE age bracket). It is not uncommon to see a line up waiting to get into their favourite Beltline watering hole at Happy Hour.

Kensington Village is also emerging as an after-work hot spots like the Oak Tree Tavern.  Bridgeland too is now home to the very chic and cool Cannibale cocktail bar.  While Calgary may not have as comprehensive a “Happy Hour” culture as Seattle, it does have a mushrooming “after work” socializing culture.  

If you like this blog, you might like:

Beltline: GABEters Capital of North America

Calgary vs Seattle: Capturing the Urban Tourist's Imagination

Top 10 things the Everyday Tourist learned about Seattle


Flaneuring Austin & SXSW


Guest Blog from GABEster (geologist, accountants, bankers, brokers and engineers) G. Taylor an Everyday Tourist wannabe. This is a steam of consciousness blog consequently the different fonts and text sizes and casual grammatical structure. Enjoy!

We got to Austin today safe and sound and got picked up by Dave’s wife (air b&b renters). She was super nice as we headed into the heart of Austin. Once getting in we checked out our apartment (which is quite nice) and then headed to Whole foods on Lamar street (the ORIGINAL whole foods).

I forgot to pack any socks or briefs so I needed to get me some organic briefs at a high marked up price. When we got inside, wholy shit!

Brisket & Beer 

Brisket & Beer 

This place had quality organic everything that tasted amazing - a coffee roaster that continuously roasts coffee in store. A fresh seafood restaurant and a BBQ joint that makes killer brisket. 

And yes, a bar that serves liquor and has taps for draught beer in a grocery store. 

Essentially whole foods has everything from red bananas to organic cotton briefs for the desperate traveler.

We went to the Ginger Man Bar and had a few drinks to end our night!

The mother ship Whole Foods store! 

The mother ship Whole Foods store! 

City of no plastic bags

One of the reasons I really like this city is how they take hard stances on subjects like no plastic bags allowed. Very few businesses are allowed to use them, resulting in a lot of bio degradable paper bags.


The first day of SXSW was dripping in anticipation for me. Having been in Austin for about two days before it began, I wasn’t sure if this festival was as big as I had heard. The night before the streets were empty. In the morning there was sparse traffic but people started to percolate through Austin’s grid system streets and avenues.

And then like an explosion, everyone was here. And everything was happening, right in that same moment, all at the same time!

Dumb ass

FIRST EVENT: panel on SXSW film tips

Really good information but also a VERY great way to start channelling some positive energy,  feel extremely fortunate to be here. The one thing I want to mention was the MC told a story about how one year he was walking down the street looking for a free lunch (which legitimately free food and drinks everywhere during the interactive festival). A girl was yelling, “free lunch! Free lunch!” holding a sign. He decided to go in, and lo and behold, it was an intimate chat with the founder of Yahoo!

This describes the true heart of this festival - it is literally an adventure, no one knows everything that is going on, and with that, no one knows what the “best thing” is going to be - you have to guess and walk through many doors for no reason other than your curiosity.

SECOND EVENT: let’s walk around Austin

We went for a long walk through the downtown of Austin and found a big exhibit Google had put on showcasing new wireless technology that allows insane bandwidth. They also show cased virtual reality tech they are working on including a bird simulator which you fly like a bird (really fun) as well as… Wait for it… Card board box virtual reality glasses that use your smart phone. Don’t believe me? Well I got to take one home, so I can show you!

cardboard mask

FILM EVENT: 808 - 4.0/5.0 - Documentary

We saw the world premiere of 808, a film about the Roland 808 and how it is in EVERYTHING YOU HEAR!! Insane. I knew a lot about the 808 through my musical journey and software but had never seen one and b)never knew what the fuss was about. Highly recommend this movie for anyone who listens to any music. Also some very funny interviews in the movie (50 artists interviewed). The best being beastie boys, but I won’t ruin it.

FILM EVENT: 7 days in hell - 4.0/5.0 - Comedy Short

Andy Sandberg and crowd make a ridiculous short mockumentary about a tennis match that never happened. Definitely for the young adult that enjoys the SNL and lonely planet humour. One of the best parts was the Q&A at the end where Will Forte and Andy Sandberg face time in through two separate iPhones and then end up talking to each other’s face timing phone.

MUSIC EVENT: Hotline Miami 2 Release Party w/Magic Sword

As if my day couldn’t get any better after seeing two world premieres, I convinced Justin to come with me to a video game release party. After the intro DJ these two guys took the stage, hooded in cloaks with LED masks (very Daft Punk esque). The music blew me away, and it was a super intimate concert.

It is a very big deal when I find new music that impacts me so this was almost sensory overload from an already amazing day. We were supposed to see another movie across the river, which meant we had to leave mid act. As I fumbled for my words trying to mention we had to leave soon, Justin responded with why would we leave this?! Which made me extraordinarily happy that we could finish the act.

And… Then we saw a midnight screening world Premiere (yes, this day seemed like I never end with awesomeness).

FILM EVENT: The Invitation - 4/5 - Thriller/Horror Creepy cult movie that was actually quite good. Adult milk shakes were amazing.

Stay tuned for more!