(credit: The Florentine/e2hospitality.com/florentine-chicago)

by Amy Cavanaugh

When five o’clock hits and you don’t want to go straight home, happy hour is the perfect solution. Skip sugary bombs and limp wings and check out our monthly pick for an affordable, delicious happy hour.

Located in the J.W. Marriott Hotel at 151 West Adams Street, The Florentine serves up excellent, though pricey, Italian dishes. But the restaurant’s happy hour is a little-known steal—from 4 to 6 p.m. each weekday, grab a seat at the bar or lounge for a free pizza with a drink purchase.

Cocktails, which are $12, include the Brown Sugar, made with caramel vodka, maldon sea salt, and marcona almond stuffed olives, and The Devil’s Haircut, a combination of gin, grand marnier, vermouth, and burnt orange bitters. Italian wines are available by the glass or 1/3 of a bottle, which will run you $11 to $17.

The cheapest option is to order a beer, and the bottle list includes $6 and $7 choices like Gumballhead, Miller Lite, and Corona. The better bet is to select your suds from the draft list, which is made up of locally focused brews that are $7 to $9 a pour. Running from the tap are selections like Great Lakes Brewery’s Holy Moses, Capital Brewery’s Wisconsin Amber, and Goose Island Beer Company’s Matilda.

(credit: The Florentine/e2hospitality.com/florentine-chicago)

Once you’ve settled on your sip, choose from one of six pizzas. The thin-crust pies have a great ratio of toppings to base. The two I had are worth ordering again—the goat cheese comes with leeks, onions, smoked bacon, and garlic, while the mushroom is topped with two types of mushrooms and cheese. Other options include a classic margherita, and prosciutto with smoked mozzarella and arugula.

The ambiance is sleek and sophisticated, but you won’t feel out of place if your office lets you wear jeans. And go hungry—the pizzas are good-sized, meaning you just got dinner and a drink for less than $10.

Amy Cavanaugh, CBS Chicago