The History Of The Happy Hours

happy hours

Now, this piece is all history (history buffs unite!) If you’ve been enjoying your alcohol long enough, the concept of ‘Happy Hours’ isn’t alien to you. We are pretty sure you’ve checked out or inquired about happy hours at your favourite pub! To the uninitiated, Happy Hour means a time when bars and pubs slash their alcohol offerings at a discounted rate. Now, who wouldn’t be happy by that?

The concept originated in the early 20th Century in the maritime practices of the United States Navy. The Navy sailors and officers were sea-bound and spent a lot of time in the water, with very few options for entertainment, company, food and drink. So, every time they docked and came to land during their very scheduled periods for entertainment and drinks, those periods became known as Happy Hours!

Then, in the 1920s, America was plagued with the Prohibition Era, a time when alcohol was banned from 1920 - 1933 in an attempt to “heal an ill society” from the devilish clutches of alcohol. This meant that no bar or establishment was allowed to serve alcohol. But, there were always risk-takers who defied the law and those places that illicitly served alcohol in secret at unknown and surreptitious times of the day. Bar owners started calling those specific time slots the ‘Happy Hours’ where patrons could enjoy a drink without getting into trouble. 

But when the prohibition was lifted in 1933 because of the Great Depression as a way for the then-political leaders to gain public sympathy and affection for all the other problems they’d caused, bars and pubs redefined Happy Hours as a limited time slot when they would offer drinks at a discounted rate to attract more customers. The tradition actually became a lot more prominent and important after World War II as returning veterans, survivors, and volunteers frequented pubs and bars to make more connections and find people who could understand what they had experienced together. Apart from being a time when alcohol was served cheaper, it became a time of communal harmony where people could seek friendship and comfort over a drink. 

Since then, Happy Hours has been a celebrated and common practice across bars and pubs all over the world and it has now become a marketing term. However, it’s not uniform all over the world. Every country has its regulations and laws pertaining to Happy Hours which all establishments are required to follow strictly or else have their licences revoked. A lot of countries are rightly concerned about the consequences of excessive drinking during Happy Hours, which has caused them to put in place practices, which bars oblige with. 

In contemporary times, Happy Hours isn’t just about getting deals on drinks. Establishments also offer good deals on food to create a more satisfying experience for their customers. And even as Happy Hours continue to evolve with time, it’s interesting to see how sustainable practices and lower-alcohol cocktails have been initiated to promote safety and responsibility. Our tip to you would be the same: watch your drinking! 

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