Nairobi is not a fair city to live in, especially if you are on a tight budget. Circa 2010 an energetic music group aptly captured life in the city in a catchy song. The group was P-Unit and the song was Una. Since then, 8 years later, nothing much has changed. In fact, when it comes to prices, the sky seems to be the limit.
For young people like me, this limits our options. As a matter of fact, the reality on the ground has forced us to reconcile our dreams. We are no longer looking to own penthouses and German machines by 26. Making do with a bedsitter seems more logical. Moving closer to the office to save on fair is a wise move. Carrying lunch is looking more attractive – forget that guys shy away from bundling with last night’s rice and cabbage in a jav.
In the same breath, we are the same guys that need to let loose. Enjoy a few nights on the town. But clubs are the least friendly places on your finances. Unless you have a large trust fund, wheel dealing in city hall or in some shoddy import and export business, you are careful to exploit as many happy hour spots as possible.
Now here’s the thing about happy hours that I like; they respect your budget and occasion. Whether you’ve just been paid and you’re going out on a date or it is smack in the middle of the month and you’ve been cooped up in an office all day dealing with everyone’s BS. Happy hours offer sweet relief. Or do I need to remind you of the little pleasures that lie in that first sip of the day?
This article is a random guide (there is no ranking whatsoever) to some of Nairobi’s happy hour spots and what they have to offer.
Let me just say Artcaffe is a restaurant that attracts a certain ilk of people. It does not struggle to look approachable. You are either for it or not. And it is that attitude that gets it on the list. From 4PM-7PM you can enjoy a 2 for 1 offer on selected cocktails.
PS: You can choose to only buy one cocktail for half price. But, being the expert here – take two. My take, try the New York Sour.
Their prices vary from KES 650-KES 950
2. Brew Bistro
Brew Bistro first started out on Ngong Road. It was new, hip and exclusive. It had a limited floor space, and most times getting a seat after 6 was an impossible task. But not anymore, they now have branches in Westlands and Langata. Their crowning jewel was the fact that they brewed their own beers, served from the tap, fresh and icy cold.
For their happy hour, you get a 2 for 1 offer on their draft beers and selected cocktails. Now here is why I love Brew Bistro, their offer on beer covers beer by the mug or by the pitcher. You can perch up there as a group and have a good time from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Beer goes for KES 400 for a 500ML mug or KES 1500 for a 2L jug. (Remember you get two)
Cocktails on happy hour go for KES 750
I would recommend a draft beer but beer is personal – much like choosing underwear
Marquee sits on the rooftop of The Westerly in Westlands. At night the soft hues of blue (or is it purple?) neon accentuate the night sky. The balcony is a great place to sit on warm Nairobi nights but it gets breezy. It is, however, good to note that they do have lantern heaters. So it is not all that bad.
Here, I enjoyed their long island ice tea. The long island is a potent cocktail that is very easy to screw up. These guys do not. They balance out the flavors nicely and still maintain its potency. For their happy hour, you get a 2 for 1 deal that runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Also, the club has an elegant finish and is pretty good for date night drinks.
Prices range from KES 750 – KES 900
4. The Tav
Located on the ground floor of the Mirage which is off Waiyaki Way, the Tav is a joint that has a rustic type of feel. Sitting on a building that holds one of Nairobi’s open office spaces it attracts a young crowd. Mostly people from various start-ups. It is a place where you’ll feel right at home but remember to bring a friend or two. It is always better that way.
Their happy hour is on select cocktails (aren’t they all?) where you buy one and get one free. And an exceptionally good treat on Fridays and Saturdays where you get bottomless cocktails for only Ksh 2,000. The offers run from 6 p.m to 8 p.m.
5. Attic Park Inn
More hotels are adopting the trend of having bars. These bars are not the old boring carpeted bars from back then that entertained salespeople. They are making them trendy and upbeat. A place you’d bring yourself to hang out without necessarily wanting to spend a night in the hotel.
At Attic, the story is the same. Though, their happy hour is pegged to a condition that your drink should be above Ksh 900. On the plus side, it is a 2 for 1 offer.
6. Igiza Lounge
The first time I ever heard about this place was from a friend. He sang praises to the earth’s ends on their cocktails and just how good they were. It is located at Kenya National Theater. A nice walk away from the CBD. Or a quick boda ride.
Their happy hour is pegged onto local beers. They come at a reduced price. The same applies for select cocktails as well. The offers run from 5PM-7PM and it is a good joint if for you the CBD hits closer to home. On their happy hour menu cocktails appear to range be around KES 350 (arguably the most affordable) e.g. a whiskey sour and local beers go for KES 200.
7. Charlie’s Bistro
Despite the initial experience, you cannot deny them a spot on this list. They are good at cocktails. Heck, even if they made you wait a year for a cocktail it would be worth it. Also, other than my experience here, folks I have talked to convinced me it was more an exception than the rule as they’d had stellar service. I believe them.
At Charlie’s, you get cocktails at a slashed price. You buy them for Ksh 500 bob. This runs from 5 p.m to 7 p.m. Word of advice though, if you are planning on going there on a Friday, leave work early. It gets full.
8. 40 Forty
I doubt if the joint has an affiliation to the chain of Jay-Z nightclubs. But even if it doesn’t it still has a bourgeoisie up-scale vibe to it. The place reeks of luxury. At first sight, you freak out a little. You are not sure what a night out here would cost you and you probably do not want to find out.
And that is the good news. You do not have to find out. Just pop in for their happy hour where it is 2 for 1 on selected cocktails. Plus it might be the longest happy hour on the list running from 5PM-9PM.
Honorable mention – News Café
These guys deserve to be on the list. They’ve been iconic in the Nairobi happy hour scene. I did not have the best cocktail at their Ad-Life branch a while back. It was watered down. But a few weeks later I had a really good one from Sarit Center. I cannot say the branches have anything to do with it but switch it up and see how it goes.
Do not, however, expect a 2 for 1 offer. They slash the prices to some of their cocktails during their happy hour. For instance, you can get what they refer to as a classic cocktail (Margarita, original mojito, Cosmopolitan, and a Strawberry Daiquiri) for only Ksh 400. Their happy hour runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
PS: They have food too 😉
And that’s it. Let us know which one your favorite spot is (even if it is not on the list).