What’s better than a great drink? A great drink for a great price. Enter, happy hour. Across the country, happy hour has become synonymous with drinking culture. But it wasn’t always.


How did Happy Hour Start?


You might assume that happy hours started at some New York City bar, but they actually have roots in the U.S. military. Sailors in the Navy started throwing “happy hours” every week that were more like social clubs for the servicemen to have some fun and relieve some boredom. 


Happy hours back in those days weren’t even about drinking. They’d often include activities like boxing, movies, or ice cream, as a break from the day-to-day of life at sea. 



When did Happy Hours Start in Bars?


Say it with us: Prohibition! That’s right, the drinking trend caught on when it was illegal to drink. Speakeasies took the term from the Navy, and used happy hours as a way for customers to get drunk before they had to go to an alcohol-free dinner later in the night. The term ‘happy hour’ became a sort of code word for these secretive cocktail hours. 



What is a Modern Happy Hour?


Walk into any bar or restaurant today and you can almost guarantee they’ll have a happy hour. Most likely, it will be more than an hour, running from around 4-7 on weekdays, and feature discounts on drinks and appetizers, as a way to bring in more business during slower times. Experts in the business will tell you that bars and restaurants will make more money during happy hour than they do the rest of the week, despite the discounts they offer. Patrons will tell you they have more fun, too.


Where is Happy Hour Banned?


Not everyone (or at least not all government leaders) are happy about happy hour. These states all technically have bans on happy hour drink specials.


  • Alaska
  • Indiana
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
  • Rhode Island


Outside of these states, happy hour has become a century-old tradition across America. What’s your favorite place to spend happy hour? Let us know in the comments!