“Work is the curse of the drinking man,” my grandfather always says. It’s true that the cost of going out and enjoying your favorite drink can whittle away at your paychecks. Fortunately, there’s no better way to save a few bucks on drinks than to get them for free! With buy one get one free specials now standard across most of Suzhou’s bars, happy hour is here to save the day for drinking men and women the city over.
Suzhou’s customary afternoon/evening happy hour may very possibly have originated at Blue Marlin. Its downtown location no more, Blue Marlin’s Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) and Suzhou New District (SND) locations have provided patrons with the vaunted drink special from 4-7 for years. Inclusive of cocktails, spirits, and even premium beers, the buy-one-get-one-free special is the most comprehensive in town. But what really makes happy hour unique at Blue Marlin’s SIP branch is the crowd. Hardly a weekday goes by where the bar isn’t packed with expatriates of all ages; as well as a considerable local following. A house band and billiards table are large draws for many customers, but the hectic beer orders made just before 19:00 point to the success of Suzhou’s best-established happy hour. Pints of beer run just 15 RMB during the special.
For a place that is Suzhou’s liveliest after 23:00, it’s surprising how nonexistent happy hour deals are on Shi Quan Street. Many bars run daily specials, but almost all are shuttered until 19:00 or 20:000 (except for Jane’s Pub Bar, which runs a happy hour special with 20 RMB draft beer from the wee hours of 03:00). Some of the better specials on Suzhou’s premiere bar street are free-flow deals at Pulp Fiction, Whiskey Jack’s, and Dream Hollywood. Saturday flip night at the Drunken Clam lets you try your luck at guessing a coin flip to get each of your drinks for free.
Too much happy hour? Photo:matthewclayfield.com
Elsewhere in the SIP, Zapata’s and Big and Whistle offer happy hour deals to customers who wish to enjoy the scenery of Jin Ji Lake along with their brews. Casa Zoe and the restaurants and bars in nearby Singah Plaza also have deals including buy-one-get-one-free or free-flow on draft beers in the evening hours. This area is remarkable for having changed from a “restaurant-only” venue to a place where bars seem to be having success with their specials. The number of choices for dining and drinking are impressive, and with Li Gong Di just a 10 minute walk away, it’s a great launch pad for a night on the town.
Li Gong Di continues to fulfill its prophecy as a Bar Street, despite its early start as a clubbing destination. Tunnel Bar and affiliated venue, @ Ollie’s, are continuing the success the Southern Cross Group has had for years in Suzhou (operators of Pulp Fiction and Southern Cross near Guan Qian Street). Nearby Garbo’s has run a successful happy hour for years now. The continuous addition of restaurants, bars, and clubs to this area are a relief to taxi-weary SIP residents who can opt out of going downtown in lieu of hitting this neighbourhood hotspot.
In the SND, Shanghai’s Malone’s restaurant is offering its amazing and productivity-destroying happy hour: buy-one-get-one-free on select drinks from 14:00-20:00. That makes it Suzhou’s lengthiest happy hour by time, and a tempting destination for a juicy burger along with however many drinks one can imbibe within six hours. As one who has taken advantage of this deal on a weekend, I can honestly say, it’s hard to remember anything about that afternoon!
Lastly, TGIFriday’s continues its mission as Suzhou’s “neighbourhood bar and restaurant”, and has begun offering a happy hour on top of its famous: last Friday of each month free-flow cocktail deal. This unique twist shows how TGIFriday’s is hoping to expand on its solid dinner business: happy hour is from 20:00 to close. Buy-one-get-one-free on most beers is a deal that entices customers to the impressively large bar to watch news or movies on satellite TV, or to play Jenga and other games. This late-night happy hour allows for dangerously cheap binges, as one could chain together other happy hour specials with this one until 12 or 1am. If you’re able to stand, let alone dance, Suzhou’s many clubs offer further destinations for your bar crawl.
Suzhou’s happy hour crowds tend to be well-established and fiercely loyal. Still, if you’re new here, or looking to try out a new venue for a change, look among dozens of options as local bars vie for allegiances among working (and drinking) people.
TGI Friday’s Restaurant & Bar 星期五餐厅 View In Map
Add: 1/F, Xuanmiao Square, 820 East Ganjiang Lu, Suzhou
Tel: 0512 6801 7777
Blue MarlinView In Map
Add: 168 Xinghai St., SIP, Suzhou / 98 Shishan Rd. SND, Suzhou
地址: 苏州市园区星海街168号 /新区狮山路98号
Tel: 0512 6288 9679 / 0512 6808 7316
Zapata’sView In Map
Add: A1 Rainbow Walk, SIP, Suzhou
Tel: 0512 6767 2780
Southern CrossView In Map
Add: 72 Luoguaqiao Xiatang, Suzhou
地址: 苏州落瓜桥下塘72号, 临顿路,碧风坊路口
Tel: 0512 6581 0067
Casa ZoeView In Map
Add: Block 22 Singha Plaza, SIP, Suzhou
Tel: 0512 6253 4118
TGIFriday’sView In Map
Add: 1/F Xuanmiao Square, 820 East Ganjiang Lu., Suzhou
Tel: 0512 6801 7777
Malone’sView In Map
Add: Regalia Shopping Mall, 318 Changjiang Lu, SND, Suzhou
Tunnel Bar 隧道酒吧 View In Map
Add: 1912 Bar Zoon, Ligongdi, SIP, Suzhou
Tel: 135 848 86864
Ebony 艾伯耐西餐厅 View In Map
Add: B113-114, Singa Plaza, 8 Jinjihu Lu, SIP, Suzhou
Tel: 0512 6761 2432
Jane’s Pub Bar 简施咖啡 View In Map
Add: 621 Shiquan Jie, Suzhou
Tel: 133 3800 0976
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Keywords: Happy hour deals Suzhou drink deals Suzhou happy hour Suzhou best happy hours Suzhou
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