Happy hour

Happy hour
"Happy Hour" sign on a pub in Jerusalem. (in Hebrew: all draft beers, 1 + 1 free)

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


Basic information

Typically, it is in the late afternoon Monday through Thursday, usually taking place at some period between 4 PM and 7 PM. Many bars also have a late night happy hour for afternoon shift workers from 10 PM-1 AM. 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.

The term also is commonly used to describe the gathering of work colleagues at a restaurant or bar after work hours, possibly outside the period of 4 PM and 7 PM.[citation needed]

The specifics usually differ from country to country. In some European countries like the Netherlands, the price of an alcoholic drink is regulated, and selling them at half price is prohibited. During happy hour, a customer gets double the amount of drinks instead. In Italy, a customer often pays the same price or even more for the drink but is offered free fingerfoods. In the United States it typically entails finger foods and discounted drinks.

Happy hour can also be referred to as the period prior to dinner, where appetizers and drinks are served at one's home.


One possible origin of the term is from the United States Navy. In the 1920s, "Happy Hour" was slang for a scheduled entertainment period on board a ship during which boxing and wrestling bouts took place; this was a valuable opportunity for sailors to relieve the stress accumulated during the long periods at sea.[1]

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 on military life in 1959.[citation needed]


United States

Massachusetts was one of the first U.S. states to implement a state-wide ban on happy hours in 1984.[2]

In 1984, the U.S. military abolished happy hours at military base clubs.[citation needed]


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.[3]

In Ontario, while establishments may vary liquor prices as long as they stay above the minimum prices set by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, they are not permitted to advertise these prices "in a manner that may promote immoderate consumption." In particular, the phrase "happy hour" may not be used in such advertisement.[4]


Happy hour has been illegal in the Republic of Ireland since 2003 under the Intoxicating Liquor Act.[5]


Glasgow has banned happy hours to reduce binge drinking.[6]


  1. ^ Johnny Acton, Tania Adams and Matt Packer (2006). Origin of Everyday Things. Happy Hour (p. 107). New York, Ny: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. ISBN 978-1-4027-4302-3.
  2. ^ Happy hour ban starts in Massachusetts bars New York Times (11 December 1984}
  3. ^ Alberta sets new rules to improve bar safety:Minimum drink prices, restricted happy hours among new policies to curb binge drinking. Alberta News Release, July 3, 2008.
  4. ^ [1]:Pricing and Promotion of Liquor by Liquor Sales Licensees. Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Information Bulletin, July 2007.
  5. ^ Happy hour to end at midnight RTÉ News (17 August 2003)
  6. ^ City bans happy hours to curb binge drinking

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Happy Hour — Happy Hour. Die Happy Hour (englisch für Glückliche Stunde) bzw. Blaue Stunde ist diejenige Stunde des Tages, ab der dem gesellschaftlichen (englischen) Comment gemäß nach Arbeitsende der Konsum von Alkohol angemessen ist und gestattet erscheint …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Happy Hour! — Happy Hour! …   Википедия

  • happy hour — {n.}, {informal} A time in bars or restaurants when cocktails are served at a reduced rate, usually one hour before they start serving dinner. * /Happy hour is between 6 and 7 P.M. at Celestial Gardens./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • happy hour — {n.}, {informal} A time in bars or restaurants when cocktails are served at a reduced rate, usually one hour before they start serving dinner. * /Happy hour is between 6 and 7 P.M. at Celestial Gardens./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • Happy hour — Happy hour. La Happy hour (hora feliz en castellano) es una estrategia de márketing por parte de algunos bares, pubs y discotecas de varios países del mundo, en el que se ofrecen bebidas durante momentos concretos a un precio más barato.[1] …   Wikipedia Español

  • happy hour — happy hours N VAR In a pub, happy hour is a period when drinks are sold more cheaply than usual to encourage people to come to the pub …   English dictionary

  • happy hour — (ingl.; pronunc. [jápi áuar]) f. *Hora feliz …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • happy hour — n [U and C] a special time in a bar when alcoholic drinks are sold at lower prices …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • happy hour — happy ,hour noun count or uncount a short period of time when drinks in a bar cost less than usual, usually in the early evening …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • happy hour — early evening period of discount drinks and free hors d oeuvres at a bar, first recorded 1961 …   Etymology dictionary

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