Because apparently Minnesotans love standing in the cold and waving at stuff, the Holidazzle parade (6:30 p.m. Thu.-Sun. through Dec. 23) is a beloved winter tradition. But even better than staring at light-up floats is cruising Nicollet Mall at happy hour. Strike a balance between getting soused and holiday joy (we guess) at these nearby bars and restaurants.
McCormick & Schmick's
800 Nicollet Mall, Mpls. • 612-338-3300 • www.mccormickand schmicks.com
If you're going to freeze your fingers off in the name of seasonal spirit, you might as well please your palate first. Layer and liquor up before the float fest with this seafood restaurant's 4-6:30 p.m. weekday happy hour, with $4 wells, $4-$5 taps, $5 wine, $6-$7 cocktails and martinis, and $3-$6 bites.
931 Nicollet Mall, Mpls. • 612-904-1000 • www.the-local.com
Brace yourself for a potentially frigid affair with a shot of whiskey or whatever satiates your taste buds at Nicollet's longstanding Irish bar. From 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. weekdays all taps, wells and house wines draw $4.50, with $6 apps running from 2 to 6 p.m. The cozy but expansive pub is a more-than-suitable pre-parade party spot.
80 S. 9th St., Mpls. • 612-332-4700 • www.hells kitcheninc.com
Just a block off the Mall, this subterranean haunt is a solid place to warm up before or after the 'Dazzle [insert joke about hell being hot, or something]. Its daily 3-6 p.m. happy hour (Sundays till close) accommodates weekend parade-gazers with $2-$4 beers, $4.50 wines, $5.50 cocktails and $3-$6 grub. Belly up too long and you'll be grinning as dopily as the float-riders.