Working until 7PM poses frequent happy hour problems in my weekday schedule, being that most of them are just ending when I’m finally experiencing my workday freedom. Living in NYC, happy hours are crucial for those of us on a budget, especially when the desire strikes to try one of the classier bars/restaurants in town. I had plans all week to get a drink with my friend Ana Sofia, who works in Flatiron (I work in Midtown East.) While attempting to stumble upon a good spot in between our two workplaces, I found a plethora of hot spots I’d been wanting to try for awhile; Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, and Ilili, just to name a few. I checked out the Ilili website first, and to my utmost surprise, happy hour is until 7:30. I didn’t even bother going to the other websites– this was our choice.

Ilili is located on 27th and 5th, just a few blocks away from the Flatiron building. I’d heard a lot of buzz about this restaurant, specifically their delicious cocktails and eccentric twist on Middle Eastern cuisine. While the waiting area to be seated was a bit packed, I had no problem getting a seat at the bar at 7:15, just in time to get one round of happy hour drinks. The seasonal cocktail menu was brimming with some obvious summer favorites, including basil cilantro infused vodka, minty cocktails, and gin/elderflower creations. I settled on the Arabian Julep, bourbon based cocktail mixed with St. Germain, squeezed lime, and mint. The magenta colored drink was both tangy and refreshing; a perfect summer cocktail. Despite not being hungry, I ran my eyes over the small plates menu, which included Lebanese classics like hommus and falafel croquettes.

The trendy, bustling ambiance of Ilili is a definite must-try for any foodie or cocktail lover in New York. For those on a budget, stop by Monday-Friday between 5:30 and 7:30 for $9 cocktails and $7 house wine. Add a few bucks more for a Lebanese inspired small plate.

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