How to Happy Hour Like a Tech Bro on an 'I Only Live in Oakland Because My Apartment is Rent Controlled' Budget 

Ten options for taking it up a notch on the cheap.

click to enlarge Onion rings at the Starline Social Club.

Bert Johnson

Onion rings at the Starline Social Club.

Happy hours exist so you can get day drunk without totally breaking the bank. Dirt-cheap drinks in dive bars are always nice, but sometimes the occasion calls for taking it up a notch with patio drinking, bar snacks, and $5 margaritas at classy establishments. Happy hour is the perfect reason to branch out and try one of those delicious-looking cocktails with the weird ingredients. Here are ten options:

Grand Lake Kitchen: Come for the view, stay for the meat platter and $5 Bellinis. Grand Lake Kitchen boasts an excellent patio for all your day-drinking and people-watching delight, so start your day off nice and easy. The fruit in the Bellinis rotates daily, with exotic options such as prickly pear and lychee popping up. 4-6 p.m. daily. 576 Grand Ave., Oakland. 510-922-9582.

Nido: Five-dollar margaritas and $3 tacos? Perfect. While margarita aficionados might be suspicious of a $5 bargain, rest assured: There is no pre-bottled, store- bought sour mix here. It's all fresh lime juice and other fresh ingredients, at a sour mix price. With a touch of industrial harbor décor, Nido is the perfect pit stop before leaving downtown to head back east. 3–6 p.m., Tue.–Sat. 444 Oak St., Oakland. 510-444-6436.

Cana: Yet another option for patio drinking and cheap cocktails, Cuban style. Cana is known for its mojitos — during happy hour, they're only $5. If you're in the mood for beer and wine, those are discounted, too. Satisfy your hunger with tasty empanadas, sliders and wings. 5-:6:30 p.m., Mon.–Fri. 530 Lake Park Ave., Oakland. 510-832-1515.

Forge: You had me off at half-off pizzas. Sounds like as good a reason as any to eat a late lunch. You also had me at the beautiful view of the bay, as well as $5 well cocktails and $8 specialty cocktails. 3–5 p.m., Mon.– Fri. 66 Franklin St., Oakland. 510-268-3200.

District: District features a $6 happy hour menu with $6 well drinks, beers, wines, and appetizers. But the best part of the $6 happy hour is the $1 oysters. If you're looking to gorge yourself on oysters without breaking the bank, District is your swank, Old Oakland destination. 4–6 p.m., Mon.–Fri., and 5–7 p.m on Saturday. 827 Washington St., Oakland. 510-272-9110.

Tigerlily: There's nothing quite like an afternoon in the Gourmet Ghetto to kick off your craving for a cocktail classic like a martini or a gimlet. At $7 a pop during happy hour, Tigerlily is the place to go. Also offered are tasty bar bites such as deviled eggs and meatballs. 4–5 p.m. daily. 1513 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. 510-540-7900.

Fauna: If you're looking to sip cocktails in a classy bar before hopping on 19th Street BART, Fauna is calling your name. The cocktail menu is filled with classics and classic-inspired cocktails, and it's $2 off throughout the week before 7 p.m. Bottles of wine are half off during happy hour, making this perhaps one of the best reasons to skip the cocktails and just go for a bottle. 5–7 p.m., Mon.–Sat. 1900 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 510-286-0100.

Revival Kitchen: An afternoon in downtown Berkeley can only mean one thing: swarms of Berkeley High students. If you're looking to avoid the teenage mob, slip into Revival Kitchen to try $8 cocktails and $2 oysters with the classy 21-plus crowd. Not that you need an excuse to try one of the quirky cocktails with fun ingredients — but why not? 3:30–6 p.m., Tue.–Fri.; 8 p.m. to close on Sunday. 2102 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. 510-549-9950.

Tribune Tavern: If you need of something better to do than wait for your BART train at 12th Street during rush hour, look no further. Tribune Tavern offers pitchers of margaritas for $22 during their happy hour, as well as $16 pitchers of beer. That's a lot of booze for really cheap. Chow down on snacks like jumbo fried shrimp and fries while you're there. 3–7 p.m. Mon.–Fri. 401 13th St., Oakland. 510-452-8742.

Starline Social Club: Starline offers 30 percent off food, cocktails, wine, and beer, which feels like a lot of math but basically means that everything on the menu is just cheap. With delicious cocktails like the Cocchi Rosa Parks and a locally-sourced, seasonal food menu filled with steak and fried chicken, it's a deal that can't be missed. Happy hour happens every day, which means you can show up early and drink cheaply before Sunday karaoke or any of the bar's other exciting events through the week. 5–7 p.m. daily. 2236 Martin Luther King Way, Oakland. 510-593-2109.

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