Ah, happy hour! Time to hit the local watering hole to reward yourself for making it through the working day! It’s where you catch up on the workplace gossip and enjoy discounted drinks before dinner. But have you ever stopped to think where did the happy hour tradition begin?
Happy hour dates back as far as 1914 and was first associated with the Navy, although in those days it was generally a little more innocent. It involved gatherings to watch movies or boxing matches rather than consuming large amounts of discounted alcohol. In fact, the first advert for happy hour featured in the Washington Times on May 1st, 1914.
The Washington Times. May 1, 1914 (Click Image To View Full Size)
Still, there was some alcohol consumed at these events but it was more so created to be a social gathering.
After a while, alcohol consumption started to drive negative behaviors within the workplace. Happy hour kits were even being sold so that workers could make their own drinks and enjoy at their desks.
1970 Southern Comfort advertisement / Image Credit: Vintage Paper Ads
This revolution drove a “happy hour ban”, meaning restaurants could not legally sell alcohol before the dinner period. Clearly, this didn’t sit too well with many people and “happy hour” drinking was done in secret often meeting before dinner to drink rapidly before heading out. Some speakeasies even provided alcohol despite the prohibition. This “happy hour ban” certainly drove a social and somewhat habitual tradition of pre-dinning drinking. The Ban didn’t last long, of course, driven by poor sales performance within the hospitality industry, the ban was forced to be lifted.
Fast forward to the ’70s and ’80s in the states, the happy hour became associated with discounted drinks, usually from 5-6pm. It is unsure what exactly drove this movement but the economic thinking behind this strategy was that the increase in demand for cheaper drinks offset the decrease in cost. Not to mention if you find yourself a few beers deep at the end of happy hour, the chances of leaving straight away are less than likely.
Whatever the reason was for this magical creation, we are glad that the happy hour tradition has stuck around all these years! It’s a great chance for team building, making friends and meeting new people and letting down your hair after a long week!
P.S. Left Bank Melbourne has something big coming…. Watch this space! You don’t want to miss it!