Coordinating all that summer camp action can drive a parent to drink! So with just a little extra coordination, Irene and I make time each summer to check out some of the newest local happy hours. Following is a sampling of our recent reconnaissance:
Catch & Release (catchandreleasela.com): Great signature cocktails? Check. Seafood? Check. That’s all we need for the perfect Happy Hour. Located just a few minutes from our house across from the Marina Marketplace, this Marina Del Rey restaurant is run by veteran chef Jason Neroni (Spago, Le Cirque, Superba). We tried the HoJo Clam Strips and some oysters and washed it down with a Kitty Cocktail, made with red wine, ginger, lime, soda (Irene) for $6, and a Tequila Maid, mixed with fresh lime, cucumber and mint (me) for $7. Excellent stuff. *NOTE: In lieu of a gratuity, C&R tacks on an 18% service charge to all orders (“in hopes of providing a living wage for our entire team,” says a disclaimer) but will remove it if said service has not met your expectations.
The Independence (independencetavern.com): We took the kiddies here because this Third Street Promenade spot was giving adventurous little foodies their very own grilled octopus app compliments of the house over one early summer weekend. Each nicely prepared tentacle was accompanied with smoked beans, grapes, celery and pickled chili. Seated at a communal high-top, the adults sipped on Happy Hour cocktails (a Doheny – bourbon, apricot brandy, bitters, $6, for me, and a Laurel Canyon – gin, lime, honey ginger, organic egg white, $5, for Irene). We also ordered some Happy Hour snacks including Hanger Steak Skewer with Chimichurri (3 for $6) and Sriracha Lime Chicken Wings ($7).
Happy Hour here is from 5 to 7 p.m. daily with Scandinavian and Turkish menu items. We tried a herring dish that was okay and a too-smoky mashed eggplant. Not a bad selection of reduced-priced beers and wines but not sure I would find myself coming back to this rustic corner bar.
After sampling some Happy Hour small plates at the bar, we did return to this place with the kiddies and sat on their back patio. Also located just down the road from our house on Lincoln, Santino’s is a family-owned affair, a festive yet laid back spot where you can kick back with a bottle of sangria while the kiddies share plates of calamari, empanadas and other Argentinian fare.
We will definitely be returning to Clutch with the kiddies after our initial visit, where we sat at the bar, ordered some excellent grilled, smoked oysters and sipped on local craft and canned beers. From the same owners as Oscar’s Cerveteca and Venice Wines on Rose Ave., Clutch (in the former building that housed Benny’s Tacos) features wood-fired tacos and Sonoran-style barbecue, complete with a smoker out in the parking lot.