215 N. Main St.
Thursday and Friday, 5 to 7 p.m.
Thursday and Friday afternoons belong to Rathskeller. The $2 bottles of Miller Lite and Arcadia Brewing Company beers and, more importantly, accompanying free taco bar on Thursdays and wings on Fridays, keep the bar beneath the Heidelberg consistently packed. Handicapped by its distance from campus, the bar still manages to produce a large turnout of money-conscious college students eager to take advantage of the free food and get a head start on the weekend. The loud, crowded atmosphere can lengthen the wait for drinks and food, but it gives you a chance to play Erotic Photo Hunt, which features an amazing collection of soft-core ’80s pornography harkening back to the days of Sony’s Betamax.
314 S. Main St.
Weekdays, 4 to 6 p.m.
The key to any great happy hour is the opportunity to eat or drink items you couldn’t normally afford. The newest entrant into the bloated Main-Street-fine-dining-scene follows through with the best happy hour in town, offering 50 percent off their extensive wine list, beer list, and appetizers and sushi menus created by a former chef from New York’s Nobu Restaurant. While a dark basement under Conor O’Neill’s playing Buddha-Bar mixes on repeat doesn’t exactly register as the most appropriate or inviting place for afternoon drinks, the wide selection of appetizing choices more than compensates. The awkwardness observed as the crowd turns from poor, drunk college students to spiffed-up couples and B-school recruiters is also a plus.
401 E. Liberty St.
Weekends, 4 to 7 p.m.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but the strip mall chain, Bar Louie, has one of the best happy hours in Ann Arbor. Over 20 beers on tap for $2, buy-one-get-one-free appetizers and $5 martinis make the trip worthwhile, even if you have to deal with middle-aged Ann Arborites fresh off work dropping their best post-divorce pickup lines. Swallow your pride about going to a chain bar, the last frontier of national branding in America. It’s happy hour, the haven for white-collar sell-outs, so what better place to glimpse your future?
216 S. State St.
Weekdays, 3 to 5 p.m.
Zanzibar is a tropical bar featuring 50 percent off drinks. The sparse crowd allows for attentive service as you try to make the most of the special deals, though on one visit they inexplicably ran out of orange juice, a seemingly crucial ingredient when it comes to tropical drinks. The choice of martinis, mojitos and cocktails made with top-shelf alcohol buoy Zanzibar’s happy hour reputation, but it’s hard to justify wings costing one dollar each as a “special,” especially when you’ve got a view of Buffalo Wild Wings across the street.
The Earle Restaurant
300 S. Thayer St.
Monday to Friday, 5 to 8 p.m.
Twenty percent off the wine bar and beverage menus. More importantly, 12 steamed mussels in wine, garlic and tomatoes for $2.50 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Grizzly Peak Brewing Company
120 W. Washington
Every night, 4 to 6 p.m.
$2 pints, $8 pitchers and $1 off wines and well drinks. Pizzas and appetizers are $1 off as well.
The Brown Jug
2104 S. University
Every night, 2 to 5 p.m.
The early-bird special has 50 percent off appetizers, $2.50 well drinks, $2.25 domestics, $1 off draft beers and $4.50 Grey Goose and soda.