Cool libations and gourmet bar bites all along the coast are calling your name, tempting you to happy hour
By Jennifer Pellerito
Watching the workday fade away has never been easier thanks to the latest happy hours that have blossomed around our beach cities just in time for summer. Like a Siren’s song, longer, warmer days and the unofficial start of vacation season—Memorial Day—call for you to slip out of work just a tad early, especially with small plates and drinks as good as these. Whether you plan to drink yourself silly or feast on food offerings instead, you can’t go wrong either way. When the last call, text message, or email is done for the day, power down and sink into these Westside happy hours refreshingly setting the mood for summer.
Feel the Mediterranean @ Massilia
Do as the Europeans do and take it slow by savoring the food and drinks at Massilia in downtown Santa Monica. Brown brick walls, curling ivy-green foliage and tiled floors set the scene for the cuisine, infused with French, Italian, and Spanish influences. Imagine the Pacific’s coastal breeze as that of the Mediterranean, and you’ll quickly feel transported to Europe and back.
Start off your happy hour excursion with crispy socca chips and a tapenade and peas hummus, a topping so refreshing you’ll feel as if you’ve been dipped into a sea of cool water. Take the next step with piping-hot Spanish albondigas meatballs marinated in a saucy red sauce. A robust merlot pairs well. Or try that dish with Massilia’s spicy margarita ($11), which surprises each sip with a delightfully tart bite. If you’re still hungry, go for the flatbread comte cheese pizza, another item that sprinkles in a pleasant tingle of spice.
Take your time by sipping down another drink – perhaps an Aperol spritz ($8) or a classic Negroni ($11) if you’re dreaming of your favorite bar in Napoli. Enjoy it all on Massilia’s recessed patio or indoors; both settings evoke the buzzing social atmosphere of a modern European café.
Enjoy $3 tapas with the purchase of any drink from 3 to 6:30 p.m. daily | 1445 5th St., Santa Monica | (310) 319-1995; massilia.com
Hit Refresh with Tocaya Organica @ The Point, El Segundo
Head down to the South Bay to unwind with happy hour specials at Tocaya. The casual atmosphere, lighthearted interior design and friendly staff make it a restaurant worth experiencing all on its own. Add in the fact that the food and drinks are made only with the most high-quality, local and sustainable ingredients, and it’s a restaurant worth fighting traffic at 5 o’clock for. (You can also find locations in Santa Monica, Venice and Playa Vista.)
Try the lively passionfruit cocktail and sip your worries away with its sweet and sour, tangy citrus twist. The pretty-in-pink prickly pear cocktail surprises with salty and sweet flavors topped off with a flower for garnish. For an after-work pick me up, go for the spicy margarita, made with fresh jalapeno, cilantro, lime, and topped with tajin salt.
Better yet, Tocaya’s happy hour menu features a variety of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Go for patatas bravas or street corn for flavor that delivers. Although not on the happy hour menu, the Baja taco—made with fresh catch-of-the-day fish, shaved cabbage, sweet chipotle sauce, cilantro and vegan chipotle crema—is not to be missed.
Discover discounted drinks and $2 small bites from 3 to 6 p.m. daily | 850 S. Sepulveda Blvd., El Segundo; 12150 Millennium Dr. #101, Playa Vista; 507 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; 1715 Pacific Ave., Venice | tocayaorganica.com
Up Your Influencer Status @ Shutters on the Beach
This Santa Monica luxury hotel has made a name for itself over the years with its knockout location and exclusive beachfront guestrooms. As a trendy spot for hip Angelenos to convene, an afternoon at Shutters is the best way to see and be seen. Cozy on up to the pop-up Botanical Beach Bar, an alfresco patio facing the Pacific, and toss back
a carefully crafted libation all while getting your people-watching (or Instagram) game on.
Sip down color-changing cocktails as surreal as Hollywood itself and cool off with ocean-inspired libations like the Citrus Whale Tail Spritzer, made with Grey Whale gin, lemon, mint, agave, and seltzer. It’s your lucky day if you score one of the exclusive spots at the Botanical Beach Bar; it only seats 8 to
10 people and demand is off the charts. If you slurp slow enough, you might even be able to watch the colors of the sky blend into the ocean at sunset.
Make the day even better by ordering the Ahi Tartare, a small plate appetizer as refreshing as the ocean’s spray. Small cubes of fish seasoned in avocado ponzu are served with tortilla chips on the side, offering a satisfying crunch. The Botanical Beach Bar only lingers until June 20, but never fear! A pop-up serving the unofficial wine of summer—Rosé—rises to take its place on the first day of actual summer: June 21.
Experience Botanical Beach Bar libations for $20 or bar bites for $10 from 3 p.m. to sunset on weekdays & 1 p.m. to sunset on weekends | 1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. | (310) 458-0030; shuttersonthebeach.com