A Happy Hour Tale of Two Cities

CaneTable

We are walking back and forth on one block of Decatur Street in New Orleans trying to locate the entrance for Cane and Table which should be right next to Maximo’s. We must look like the perfect target for the panhandler shakedown and so it goes. He tries to be helpful, asking us what we are looking for, and giving us a free copy of Off Beat magazine. As his luck would have it, about 10 feet away a door with the Cane and Table logo painted on it swings open and he exclaims, “There it is, right there! Can you spare some change for a cup of coffee?”

At 5 p.m. the skies have finally cleared after a morning of heavy rain and thunderstorms. We opt for seating in the courtyard and for a short while we have it all to ourselves. To our delight, it’s happy hour until 6 p.m. The menu selections include ten different cocktails at $6.50 as well as beer with shots and appetizers. Our round one is El Presidente and Ti Punch. Both cocktails are balanced and well-made. My Ti Punch is served in a silver cup topped with tiny ice balls. This cocktail is made with just three simple ingredients; Rhum Agricole, cane syrup, and lime. Rhum Agricole is a style of rum originally distilled in the French West Indies from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice rather than molasses. The scent of freshly mown lawn transitions to a grassy flavor. The sweet and tart of the syrup and lime counterbalance the burn of the rum.

The happy hour menu offers five different appetizers priced at $6, or a combination platter for $24. We order the Triple Pea Hummus with Fresh Yucca Chips. The three beans in this case are red beans, black eyed peas, and chick peas. The chef uses a smoked cashew tahini instead of the traditional sesame tahini used in most hummus. The chips are crunchy and strong enough to dig out the firm bean dip. The Triple Pea Hummus is a delicious and creative new spin on a dish that has become too commonplace.

For our second round of drinks we order the American Flyer for me, and Mexican Firing Squad for my husband. I’m hoping that the American Flyer, made with white rum, lime and sparkling wine, will be a bit less potent than my Ti Punch. Or not, but the combination of classic daiquiri and fizzy wine is luscious just the same.

From the low key entrance to the private courtyard, and an emphasis on carefully crafted cocktails, the New Orleans vibe of Cane and Table has us feeling very happy this hour.

Two thousand miles away another happy hour begins at McCormick and Schmick’s in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Our experience in Atlantic City can be summed up as the art of the deal. You don’t need to be a big-spending gambler to score a complimentary room. What could be better than partaking of happy hour before retiring your free room?

McCormick and Schmick’s is a nationwide chain with a location in Harrah’s Resort and Casino. Their website advertises them as the number 1 happy hour in America as per USA Today. The drink menu includes a variety of beers, house wines, well spirits, and cocktails ranging in price from $3.50 to $7. The food menu spans small snacks such as bruschetta and pretzels to full meals of burgers and fries or fish tacos priced from $3 to $6.

Going to happy hour at McCormick and Schmick’s several times gave us the opportunity to sample a good portion of the menu. The first round I play it safe with a Sam Adams seasonal while my husband orders their signature M&S Iced Tea cocktail. His Iced Tea is tasty enough for him to order a second one while I decide to try the popular Perfect Lemon Drop martini, made with Absolut Citron and fresh lemon, for round two.

Having enjoyed the Lemon Drop the day before, I think it might be fun to work my way down the martini list. While hubby stays with his favorite Iced Tea, I move on to the Apple, made with Absolut and Sour Apple followed by the Cosmopolitan. Unfortunately, something is off with the cocktails today. They all taste way too sour. We leave the mixed drinks behind and move on to the happy hour food and wine.

The bruschetta is served on very crunchy crostini. The balsamic drizzle is a nice touch. Calamari includes both rings and tentacles and isn’t overly chewy. The cheeseburger with fries is large enough to call it dinner. Our general impression is that McCormick and Schmick’s happy hour serves good pub grub, not too fancy, but a great bang for the buck.

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