August 12, 2019

It's Prime Cocktail Time: The Origin of the Happy Hour

There’s a particular time at Cork when the sun hits the right height in the sky at our restaurant. For two hours every weekday, the crowd seems a little more joyous than usual. The wine and beer seem to flow just a little more smoothly than at any other time of the day. And when this magic time ends, a good time was had by all. We are, of course, talking about happy hour.

Almost any bar or restaurant throughout our area has some version. It usually occurs just before dinner and features discounted alcoholic drinks and snacks. But where did this fabulous phenomenon begin?

In The Navy

Although the origin of the happy hour is unknown, it may be traced back to the United States Navy. Back in the early 20th century, a weekly entertainment program called “Happy Hour” was created aboard the USS Arkansas to help relieve the boredom of being at sea. There were a variety of activities during a this time, including boxing and wrestling matches, music, and dancing. These programs grew more and more popular and by the end of World War I, “Happy Hours” were being held throughout the entire Navy.

Over the years, the term became more about drinking than entertaining. According to a 1959 Saturday Evening Post article detailing the lives of government contractors and military personnel in the Caribbean, it was a term used for afternoon drinks in a bar.

“The Cocktail Hour”

The concept of the happy hour came into its own around the time of Prohibition. When alcohol became illegal across the country, people would begin hosting secret “cocktail hours” at either the local speakeasy or at a friend’s home. They would sit back, have a couple of cocktails, and then take a trip to the restaurant where alcohol could not be served.

Once Prohibition finally ended in 1933, the “Happy Hour” had caught on. As a marketing ploy to increase business, restaurants and bars began holding happy hours with discounted food and beverages. It became so popular that restaurants started coming up with different strategies for their happy hours to entice more and more people to stop by.

However, not all states take kindly to happy hour. Currently, cocktail hour is banned in eight states: Massachusetts, Alaska, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont.

Stop in for Our Happy Hour

At Cork, our happy hour runs every Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Toast the day, have a bite to eat, and then stick around for dinner! Reserve your table today or give us a call at 570-270-3818. And always enjoy responsibly!