Happy hour is actually a lot longer than an hour these days. Most of the time the happy “hour” starts about four or five in the evening and goes until seven or so. Here at B. our Happy Hour runs Monday through Thursday starting at 3pm until 6 pm.
So, if it’s not actually an hour, where did the term “happy hour” come from? Well, we take a look at the supposed origins of happy hour. When it was first mentioned and when it became what it is today actually goes back a long time.
Of course, if you want to come visit us for our happy hour to experience our signature lavender honey beverage or a Wednesday night of seasonal wine flights and live music, just book a table.
When was the first mention of happy hour?
Combining the words “happy” and “hour” together probably goes back centuries with William Shakespeare merging the two words in one of his plays, for example. Shakespeare makes mention of “happy hour” in his play Henry V.
Contemporary standards of happy hour being an hour of entertainment provided seems to come much later in human history. Some say the phrase may go back to 1913 and may be connected to the U.S. Navy.
During this time, it was common for women’s social clubs to arrange for entertainment for men of the navy during certain parts of the day. Although it is certain there was drinking of some sort, it was not necessarily meant to be an activity for drinking. Boxing matches, dancing, movies and music were often provided as forms of entertainment.
Originally, these “happy hours” were focused on the USS Arkansas, one of the Navy’s large battleships, but soon proved so popular they spread throughout the Navy. This became especially important during fighting in World War I.
Prohibition and happy hour
When we think of happy hour today, we think about gathering with friends before dinner and enjoying some drinks before a meal is served. Of course, dinner can happen at the same place as happy hour (like at our restaurant, for example), but it doesn’t have to be.
The popularity of having an adult beverage before dinner came about during the Prohibition era when the 18th Amendment banned alcohol. Due to this, people had to seek out their beverages with a bit more secrecy and they could no longer drink during dinner.
Illegal, hidden, “speakeasies” sprouted up all over the country. Since alcohol could not be consumed at a restaurant before or during a meal, adults would stop by their local speakeasy to enjoy beverages before heading out for some food. Once Prohibition ended, the practice had become so popular many venues created “cocktail lounges” where customers could have a drink before dining.
Other possible happy hour origins
There is, of course, some dispute as to the actual origin of happy hour as we know it today. Some have said the concept of having afternoon drinks at a bar came from a Saturday Evening Post article about life in the military which first appeared in 1959. However, there is evidence showing happy hours have been mentioned in print going back to the 1800s. Once again, however, it seems they often connected these to the military, particularly naval bases.
Happy hour today and at B.
Happy hour has continued to evolve over the years. Today, food is often part of happy hour, at least in the form of appetizers. It also has expanded to include time which extends much further than an hour. The term for getting drinks before dinner or during the late afternoon/early evening, seems to have stuck around despite not being strict in terms of actual time allotted.
At B. we offer customers beverages, food such as appetizers, and live music throughout the summer months. For those staying at the resort – Oak Brook Hills – we offer late night happy hours, too, so guests can end their day with a beverage.
If you’re looking to try our signature Manhattans, made with Whistle Pig whiskey, or want to try our signature honey-lavender summer surprised beverage or want to listen to live music on Wednesday nights while enjoying seasonal wine flights, book your table reservation today and come see us.