Definitions

Happy hour

Happy hour

"Happy hour" is a marketing term for a period of time in which a restaurant or bar offers discounts on alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine and cocktails.

Typically it is in the late afternoon Monday through Thursday, sometimes Friday, usually taking place at some point between 4 PM and 7 PM. This promotion is intended to boost business on what may otherwise be a slow day. In most cases the "happy hour" lasts longer than a single hour.

Origin

The term originated in the United States Navy. In the 1920s, “happy hour” was Appendix:U.S. Navy slang for on-ship performances. “Happy” in this context meant slightly drunk.

The idea of drinking before dinner has its roots in the Prohibition era. When the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act were passed banning alcohol consumption, citizens would host “cocktail hours”, also known as “happy hours”, at a speakeasy (an illegal drinking establishment) before eating at restaurants where alcohol could not be served. Cocktail lounges continued the trend of drinking before dinner. "Happy hour" entered civilian use around 1960, especially after a Saturday Evening Post article in 1959. Happy hour has become a tradition for many workers, white and blue collar alike.

Backlash

The push against drunk driving and alcohol abuse has curtailed the use of the happy hour to some extent.

In the 1980s, bars started providing free hors d'oeuvres to lower the blood alcohol content of patrons.

Glasgow has banned happy hours to reduce binge drinking, as has the Republic of Ireland.

In 1984, the U.S. Military abolished happy hours at military base clubs.

Massachusetts was one of the first U.S. States to implement a state-wide ban on Happy Hours in 1984.

The Canadian province of Alberta created restrictions to Happy Hours that took effect in August 2008. All such promotions must end at 8 PM, and drink prices must conform to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission's minimum price regulations at all times.

Despite the controversy, happy hour still exists around the globe. Today in the United States, "Happy Hour" culture consists largely of junior and mid-level professionals getting together for a drink to unwind after work. In the United Kingdom, the cocktail hour serves a similar purpose, but traditionally begins at 5pm and ends an hour later.

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