Purr (1518 11th Ave, 325-3112. Happy hour: Mon–Sat 3–7 pm.)

Remember when Purr was those other forty thousand bars? Good times. These days she seems a little cleaner, a little quieter. Barbie is the barkeep now, and she'll greet you with a big blond smile and a menu. Taking a seat among Purr's somewhat sparse happy-hour crowd, I opted for the appetizer menu's most expensive snack: breaded chicken strips impressively renamed "Fiesta Fritters" and served with chipotle sour cream ($7.95). These satisfied my drinky palate's demand for salty-crunchy, but hit my taste buds like a starchy thud. The fritters were redeemed by my humble rum-and-Coke (happy-hour well drinks are $3.50, beer pitchers run $5); perfectly icy and exquisitely mixed, each sip felt like a fresh little ice pixie in spicy alcoholic slippers dancing down my parched throat. Yes, exactly like that.

C.C. Attle’s/The Men’s Room (1501 E Madison St, 726-0565. Happy hour: Mon–Fri 8 am–midnight.)

Welcome to the Men's Room! This is where the server hates his job and lets you know it! This is where 1994 came to die! The Men's Room happy hour runs practically all day, almost every day, and this might lead you to assume that this little gay anachronism is a very happy place indeed. This assumption would be false. I got the feeling that our server would have been happier to stab us than take our order; it seemed as if we'd interrupted him while performing brain surgery on the Pope. We ordered what seemed to be freezer-bag fries from Costco ($5.25), mini corn dogs ($6.75), and drinks ($2 draft beer, $4 well drinks). While we ate, the special features from the DVD of Madagascar played very loudly on a loop. This is happy?

The Wildrose (1021 E Pike St, 324-9210. Happy hour: Tues–Sun 3–7 pm, Mon 5–7 pm.)

The Wildrose is the most hospitable girl in the gay booze business. The Rose happy hour has a theme that changes daily: Taco Tuesdays ($1 tacos and rotating drink specials) and Cheap Date Thursdays (with $2 wells and "corn dogs and tots"). Warm banter and helpful menu tips from the servers are de rigueur—heck, the cook even emerged from the kitchen to let us know the status of our food (coming right up, darlin'!) plus she gave us 15 free songs on the jukebox to entertain us while we waited. Before long, a veritable Everest of perfect nachos ($8.50) arrived at the table—hot, mountainous, and delicious. They were complemented flawlessly by a frosty draft pint ($2.50 for domestics, $3 for microbrews and well drinks). The only thing missing was a fully appreciative crowd; for all of the bar's splashy nighttime action, the Wildrose happy hour is strangely underpopulated. But packed or not, the Rose always treats her visitors right. recommended

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