History of Happy Hour

10 November 2021

November 10 is Happy Hour Day.  Of course, that is a specified time usually at a restaurant that offers discounted drinks.  It actually started as far back as 1914 with the U. S. Navy.  During Prohibition, it was a method of early drinking at someone’s home or a speakeasy before setting out for dinner or the theater…a little surreptitious snort.  Post World War II it became an enticement for the booming economy.  It continues in popularity today.

From a table of little old ladies to working folk stopping in at the local watering hole after a long day, it is a time for half-priced drinks and special prices on hors d’oeurves or small plates.  Realize it can be far more than an hour.  Some places will start as early as 4:00 p.m. and most end at around 6:00 p.m.

Smart business owners will schedule a happy hour special on days of the week or times when business is usually slow.  It can go by other names like trivia night where beers are cheap but other drinks are full price.  Sports nights are another popular choice.  Take a $1 or two off a burger or wings and you will find that the bar area is filled.  If you pay attention to these things, you may also notice special prices on mocktails for the non drinkers or designated drivers.  Servers like it because, although their tips might not be as large as on a busy night, it makes it worthwhile to take shifts on a Tuesday to secure a Saturday slot for the more lucrative pay off.

Part of the restaurateur’s hope is that in tasting the food and enjoying the ambiance, you will want to return at a time when the prices are at full tilt to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, promotion, or date night.

Patrons like happy hours because, well, they are money saving.  The main thrust of the evening is socializing and this is the perfect excuse for gathering and chatting in a relaxed atmosphere.  The special pricing or event is a chance to try something new and to break out of the mundane.  It can also be a place for networking.  It can give co-workers or potential clients a chance to see you as a relaxed, personable individual rather than the stuffy, practical worker.

Not everything about a happy hour is great, especially if it is with co-workers.  It is fine if you have a lot of extra time.  However, if you have children at home or other responsibilities, the time having a drink may only add to the stress of your life.  When it is an office function, you may feel obligated to attend even though you have had enough of them or just a particular person for eight or more hours most days.  It can be awkward to come up with a reasonable excuse.

So, if you like to mingle once in a while, enjoy saving a dollar or two on drinks and appetizers, can handle a diverse crowd, and enjoy the entertainment, then hit your local establishment and try their specials.  It will help with the economy and give you a break.  Just drink responsibly.

Here is a list of bars and restaurants in the Finger Lakes. Contact them to ask if they have a happy hour special.

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