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The Call to Happy Hour

Living the Low Life


===A New Publication for Your Reading Pleasure: Land of the Rising Penis: Peculiar Park in Korea===

I remember working in restaurants and hating the “early bird” menu, a perk that seemed to draw in the tight pocketbooks of senior citizens, who spent less thus tipped less despite the work being the same or often more. From 5:00-6:30 every evening, I’d curse under my breath with each ice tea delivered, each 6 oz. rib-eye done medium-well: Cheap bastards.

Being a waiter, at least my experience of being one—fine dining black-and-whites and wine lists— turns you into a snob. I’d get off my shift and go to the bar to partake of Ketel One gimlets (vodka and lime juice) and spend half my tips on being more refined than the patrons who’d left them. Truth be told, I’ve worked across the world, literally, and have never made as much money as when I was a waiter, age twenty-four.


To the point, the young twenties’ early bird special, for all intents and purposes, is called happy hour. It’s a time when house boozes are poured in abundance, low quality beer goes for low quality prices, and those of us with budgets chug it all down as quickly as possible because, when the bell chimes, we’ll have to call it a night.

Somehow, in my twenties, I managed to skip all of this. When most college students were pleased with a case of Milwaukee’s Best, I was drinking single malts, cognac, and $10 six packs. The days of my youth slipped away, or it seemed they had: The price of becoming a full-time expat is that I’ve lost my exquisite taste, or better put, most of my money now goes into traveling. In short, my ears now perk to the call of happy hour.

Consequently, every Friday, my wife Emma and I plot out our happy hour destination. At around six, we head to some unsuspecting bar in Antigua to loiter as we sip drinks specials. We might order an appetizer, but usually slamming three or four rot-gut cocktails or Brahva Extras (Guatemala’s Pabst Blue Ribbon) is enough. Usually, we settle for Ramen noodles when we get home.


Recently, thanks to a friend Eric Fry, we discovered a place that offered two beers for the price of one—all day long. On a recent Saturday night, we took full advantage, about seven hours’ worth, at the end of which, our bill amounted to just under thirty dollars. In the morning, I would have paid sixty to have thought better. I spent Sunday, the last gorgeous day of our spring vacation, with the curtains drawn.

Shortly thereafter, it occurred to me that there was a higher mission in what we were doing, perhaps a grand adventure to come from it. Emma and I had been wasting time, sampling new happy hour places here and there, piecing together a playlist happy hours that occurred between six and eight, as if we were early bird pensioners. I needed to be better than that, but I also needed those happy hour prices.

So, I shrugged off the constraints of time? In Antigua, I learned, there are enough bars with enough varying horas felices that it's possible to plot out an afternoon, evening, and night to remember. Starting at noon: A new happy hour at a new place every hour until ten o’clock at night, when my shift at the restaurant used to end. That sort of irresponsibility could never be confused with early-birding.

As a expat travel writer, it seems my duty to sample as many places as possible, but I want to do it all in one, fun-packed day. So, good people of Antigua, guests and residents alike, shall we toast to our youth by getting toasted in our fair city? If you are interested in the Antigua all-day happy hour, contact me in the next couple of weeks, and I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s going down.

Posted by jonathonengels 14:48 Archived in Guatemala

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Fantastic idea: wish we could join you in Antigua. Instead why don't we attempt this over a fun weekend in Playa del Carmen, say June time?! Great photo of Mr Hall also! x

by lewyandkerri

I'm in. Also, two of my favorite, very cheap dives in Antigua:
-Sierra Verde (7 calle, east of 1 avenida)
-La Diligencia (on the backside of the market

by jeffrey duncan

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