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(post, Luke Hull)
We all work hard, and after a long day of keyboard jockeying and dealing with other people’s problems, most people deserve some sort of reward. The thing many look most forward to is catching up with friends after work by enjoying local happy hour spots. Happy hour is a fun, affordable way to unwind after work and grab something to eat before heading home for the night. But not all local happy hour bars are made equal. To have the best experience, it all comes down to the basics: good drinks, cheap food and, in the case of B.J. Willy's, a chance to try some of the best [cafe.bjwillys.com "pizza West Linn"] offers. Since that is pretty specific, here is a look at some tips for Culinate users when it comes to happy hour selection. Cocktails are art Beer is great and many people only swear by their favorite brewski. But many local happy hour bars give great deals on some of their best cocktails, so take advantage of those precious few hours and get get something exotic on the cheap. In fact, many bars require the purchase of at least one drink to access the happy hour menu. Many places will also offer substantially reduced prices on at least some of their beer, wine and well drink options. The best value is to spring for one of those specialty cocktails, however. Beers, wine and well drinks may be only be a dollar or even just 50 cents off. Great food deals One of the best reasons to hit a local happy hour bar is the tasty, cheap food. Luckily, most bars offer great specials on certain food items during happy hour, which is usually sometime between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., with many extending both earlier and later than that window. The best bars will offer nice deals on food options to fit any price range, from cheap snacks like chips and salsa to slightly more expensive — and more filling — options such as a burger. Expert happy hour fans will buy a couple of small plates for a meal that is both filling, adventurous and cheap. See and be seen Some people might not like to admit it, but one of the guilty pleasures of going to a local happy hour spot is to see and be seen. It is hard to pin down exactly what gives a bar the perfect happy hour atmosphere, but there are some things to keep in mind. If it is happy hour and there is no one in the bar, that is probably a bad sign. No one wants to spend the night somewhere dead. However, if it is too crowded, service is going to be poor and finding seats for a large group can be challenging. The best plan is to simply get to the bar long before happy hour is over so there is plenty of time to enjoy the evening and no one feels rushed to order food and drinks before the specials are over and things go back to full price.