Did you know there are 23 states have banned restaurants and bars from selling "alcoholic beverages during a fixed period of time for a fixed price? Thank goodness Mediterrano is in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Although it is believed the term comes from American Naval slang in the 1920s where “Happy Hour” was an allotted period of time on a ship where sailors engaged in various forms of entertainment (mostly athletic like wrestling) to relieve the boredom of the seafaring life, many think that a Saturday Evening Post article from 1959 that mentioned the happy hour in regards to military life introduced the expression to the public.
There are other possibilities from journalism which may more directly associate it with drinking such as a 1961 Providence Journal article referencing Newport policemen “deprived of their happy hour at the cocktail bar”. However, it wasn’t until the '70s and '80s that the general vernacular eventually became the food and drink specials we know today.
Happy hour these days is clearly linked to getting slightly intoxicated without making too big a dent in your wallet. More importantly though it’s a great way to spend time with friends after a hard day’s work.
Typically “Happy Hour”, or perhaps we should say ‘hours’, is held between 4pm and 8pm. For a restaurant or bar, it is a commonplace way to boost sales on slow weekdays and to let their customers relax to make them “happy” before dinner.
But the concept of the “Happy Hour” isn’t merely a marketing strategy, and the history of hitting the sauce at half price has a surprisingly strong—if not varied—connection to American history as the idea of drinking before dinner may has its roots in the Prohibition era.
When the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act were passed banning alcohol consumption. During this period, people would host "cocktail hours", also known as "happy hours", at a speakeasy before eating at restaurants where alcohol could not be served. Following the repeal of prohibition in 1933, cocktail lounges continued the trend of drinking before dinner.
Fortunately today, we can enjoy not only a cocktail before dinner but with it.