Heroic New Happy Hour Debuts at Schooners
April 25, 2011
As with corndogs, bacon and hot sauce, I have inherited from my ancestors a deep-seated hankering for happy hours—enough so, in fact, that I take it personally when a place does not honor the great American tradition of shaving a couple bucks off for us working stiffs, however briefly. It's not just good community karma, after all, it's good business, giving a typically quieter time a little more buzz and often getting patrons a little pickled so they’ll spend more stimulating monies once happy hour expires.
So, even though I loved ocean-adjacent Schooners Bistro on the Bay (part of the Monterey Plaza Hotel, 372-2628) almost as much as corndogs, bacon and hot sauce, I always carried a little chip on my shoulder—what, you guys can't throw us schmucks a lil' happy hour love?
The love is no longer lost—and their nascent evening bargains suddenly make it one of the best happy hours around: Roasted Castroville artichokes, herb-seasoned Monterey Bay calamari, wood-fired flat bread pizzas and hot wings are only $3 Monday through Thursday 4:30-6:30pm. Draft beers—Stella and Widmer, Big Sur Amber and Kona Longboard Lager—are $3, wines including Kenwood, Estancia, Lockwood, Colores and Solaire are $5. Sassy and fancy cocktails are $7.
The flat bread pizza—which shift shape daily according to chef inspiration and are roasted over oak—came off, well, flat (and doughy) but at $3, it didn't matter. It's still a silly good value.
The wings sport a light but lively chili sauce with a mild spice and accompanying celery salad and peanut sauce.
The fried calamari comes tasty, crispy and zested up with fried slivers of lemon.
Castroville's finest export, meanwhile, lands nicely roasted with a creamy garlic treatment on top.
The signature cocktails include (from left to right) the Schooners sunset, the passionfruit cosmo and the island paradise. They are all delicious—with these sipping and sharing comes as naturally as the beautiful views—with the sunset scoring my top honors for its coconut rim and smooth fruity-marshmallow character, though the rare passion of the cosmo distinguished itself as well.
The Schooners mojito, meanwhile, gets a creative and flavorful lift from a chunk of pineapple and a stick of sugar cane.
Then there's the "whale watcher" ($21 anytime)—which could also be called the green monster—56 ounces of several spiced rums, OJ, pineapple juice, blue curacao, modeled here by marble-smooth Restaurant Manager Grant Dobbie.
Call for back-up. If they can fine-tune this Incredible Hulk so it's not so sweet, you'll have a better chance of getting past ounce six than we did.
Long live Schooners happiness.