So Happy Together

Among the many things Kansas City is not, it’s not much of a happy-hour town; it’s more of a let’s-go-out-at-11 type of place. In fact, one of the better things about KC is that some bars don’t close until 3 a.m., so we must take advantage of that whenever possible.

However, we also love the concept of happy hour. Nothing brightens our workday more than getting an e-mail with “hh?” as the subject line. We’re especially huge fans of the non-Friday hh; it just makes the week go by faster.

Still, there are certain hazards involved in the hh. One is that, after so many cheap drinks at 5, the rest of the night is pretty much shot. Starting around 9, people will start mumbling about how they need to get some food when they really mean they want to go home and pass out. Another peril endangers new employees, who should know that the hh is a sneaky tool of office politics. To know your coworkers better, you must attend the hh. If you refuse to go twice in a row, you will be 86ed from future mass e-mail invitations. This warning should be included in every employee handbook.

One place trying to revive Kansas City’s flagging happy-hour tradition is Garrett’s Corner Market, the sleek grocery store and deli in the City Market. With its exposed brick walls, orange sputnik lights and artfully arranged groceries on metal shelves, it looks like an Ikea in restaurant form. It’s modtastic. Equally cool are its happy-hour specials: $1.75 domestic beer, $2 margaritas and a selection of $3 mixed drinks from 5 to 8 p.m.

When we went on a Wednesday, the experience was fairly low-key and very much the drinking-in-a-deli scene, though we did see Bryan Busby skulk in for some food and were later offered free pastry around closing time.

Things were livelier on a Friday, though. The lights were dimmed and a Matthew Sweet look-alike strummed his guitar and sang alt favorites like “Driver 8” and “Karma Police.” He later lived up to his appearance by breaking into a rousing rendition of Sweet’s “Girlfriend.” The just-off-work crowd was clearly represented, along with guys in ties and the graphic-designer, loft-dweller types, one of whom was a Judge Reinhold doppelganger. “Loved you in Vice Versa,” quipped a member of our party.

There is no way to resist a $2 marg, so we went with that. Served on the rocks in a tall, skinny glass, it was a pleasant blend of sweet and sour enhanced by the salt clinging to the rim. As we kept drinking, we noticed the place clearing out around 8. Then, in walked City Councilman Troy Nash and a few pals with a bevy of sororityesque lady friends, two of whom sported cheap versions of the shearling jacket.

“You were a St. Teresa girl!” one of Troy’s friends exclaimed in loud mock amazement to one of the ladies. “It all makes sense!”

That’s when it made sense for us to leave. By then, we had been at Garrett’s for a long time. And though the night was still young, it was no longer happy hour. Time, then, to drink elsewhere.

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