You've seen and heard it mentioned in movies, on TV, and in books. They even made a whole sitcom out of it called "Cheers." Yes, it's Happy Hour, that time that always seems to attract crowds to local bars and pubs. But what is happy hour? Where does it come from? When is it? Who has happy hours, and why is this hour so happy? If these are questions that have occurred to you when you heard the phrase "happy hour" mentioned, this article may be able to help answer them for you.
Happy hour is a term used in advertising to denote a period of time when alcoholic drinks are cheaper than they are normally. Happy hours (which are often longer than an hour - typically three to four hours) help bars to get people in their establishment for the hours that are slow for business - usually the hours between work getting out around 4pm to the time people decide to head out for evening entertainment around 8pm. There is no set standard for happy hour, however, so you'll have to check with your favorite bar. Special thanks belong to DowntownTorontofoot.com
During happy hour, patrons are happy because they get cheaper drinks. In places where liquor prices are regulated by the government, businesses may offer two drinks for the price of one. Again, since there are no standards for happy hours, prices will vary from bar to bar, so check out the area around you to see which bar is the cheapest. Some bars are not allowed to advertise happy hour as happy hour because it seems to be encouraging people to excess consumption, so it may be called something else. Ireland, Scotland, and certain States have banned happy hours altogether.
Because bar happy hours generally occur after work, happy hour has also come to mean the time after work when employees get together to hang out, usually in a bar or restaurant, to blow off steam and engage in team building. There is usually some mild drinking involved in after work happy hours, but rarely excess drinking, as most employees will then need to drive themselves home. These types of happy hours are mostly for the camaraderie, not the liquor. As a result some restaurants and bars will offer cheaper food as well as drinks during the after work period.
The term happy hour originated with the Navy, which had a designated time for sailors to blow off steam through drinking and sport, but the usage has since broadened considerably. You can have your own happy hour by serving cocktails to your friends before serving the food at your dinner party.