is a marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...
term for a period of time in which a restaurant or bar offers discounts on alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine, and cocktails.
Typically, it is in the late afternoon Monday through Thursday, usually taking place at some period between 4 PM and 8 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 usual period.
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
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...
. 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.
The idea of drinking before dinner has its roots in the Prohibition
Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, is the practice of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, import, export, sale, and consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the...
era. When the 18th Amendment
The Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution established Prohibition in the United States. The separate Volstead Act set down methods of enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment, and defined which "intoxicating liquors" were prohibited, and which were excluded from prohibition...
and the Volstead Act
The National Prohibition Act, known informally as the Volstead Act, was the enabling legislation for the Eighteenth Amendment which established prohibition in the United States...
were passed banning alcohol consumption, citizens would host "cocktail hours", also known as "happy hours", at a speakeasy
A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, is an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverages. Such establishments came into prominence in the United States during the period known as Prohibition...
(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.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...
was one of the first U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...
s to implement a state-wide ban on happy hours in 1984.
In 1984, the U.S. military abolished happy hours at military base clubs.
The Canadian province of Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...
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
The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission is an agent of the Government of the Canadian province of Alberta, and regulates alcoholic beverage and gaming-related activities...
minimum price regulations at all times
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....
, while establishments may vary liquor prices as long as they stay above the minimum prices set by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is a quasi-judicial Crown agency which regulates the alcohol and gaming industries 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.
Happy hour has been illegal in the Republic of Ireland since 2003 under the Intoxicating Liquor Act