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October 8, 2009

Why is it called happy hour?

I completely missed the boat on the Dining@Large discussion about happy hours from a few days ago. But after several minutes of intense deliberation, I have come up with my own theory of why it's called "happy hour" and why it routinely lasts for more than one hour ...

Let's break it down. First, the "happy." That's an easy one. You see, drinking makes most people happy -- especially when drinks are half price. Maybe what I mean to say is, moderate drinking makes most people happy.

Heavy drinking tends to stir up drama, and, sometimes turns stomachs inside out. Happy hour usually runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The less publicized drama hour is more like 8 p.m. to midnight (on weekdays).

Now, the "hour." The front door of most bars is so much more than just a door. It's actually a time portal. Once you step inside, everything slows down. One hour inside becomes two or three hours outside. This is a scientific fact that most women just don't seem to understand.

You see, when a guy says he's going to a bar for an hour, that could easily become two or three hours -- because of the time portal. It's not his fault. That's why happy hour is usually much longer than one hour.

There you have it, a thorough (and scientific) explanation of happy hour. Cheers!

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:33 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs



Thanks for explaining the time portal concept to my wife. She would have never believed it if it came from me.

I have noticed this space-time dilation with women too. Consider the phrase, "I will be ready to go in two minutes."

According to Wikipedia:

"The term originated in the United States Navy. In the 1920s, “happy hour” was slang for on-ship performances. “Happy” in this context meant slightly drunk.[citation needed]

The idea of drinking before dinner has its roots in the Prohibition era. When the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act were passed banning alcohol consumption, citizens would host “cocktail hours”, also known as “happy hours”, at a speakeasy (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 in 1959.

The push against drunk driving and alcohol abuse has curtailed the use of the happy hour to some extent.

In the 1980s, bars started providing free hors d'oeuvres to patrons in order to reduce the rate of absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, in an attempt to lower blood alcohol content.

Happy hour has been illegal in the Republic of Ireland since 2003 under the Intoxicating Liquor Act.[1]

Glasgow has banned happy hours to reduce binge drinking[citation needed].

In 1984, the U.S. Military abolished happy hours at military base clubs.[citation needed]

Massachusetts was one of the first U.S. States to implement a state-wide ban on Happy Hours in 1984.

The Canadian province of Alberta 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 minimum price regulations at all times. [1]"

Its remarkable what a Google search can accomplish these days.

I do like the "time portal" allegory. Similar concept mentioned in my reviews of Idle Hour and MRT on Baltimore Liquid

Ah.. the time portal.. so when most women say they are going shopping for an hour, and come back 3-4 hours later, it's a parallel situation, no?

Also, other time portal examples for you men:
PS2, X-Box, etc: I'll be done soon, just one more game, I'll beat it this time..

Home Depot- I just need a ladder, be back in 15 mins. What? It's been 2 hours? Oh, yeah, well there was this sale on tools, and gas grills and 2 x 4's..

Point is, we each have our weaknesses..

I have a friend with whom I always joke that she thinks she has some kind of transporational portal through which she can call from White Marsh, say she's stopping at the library and the wine store, but will meet me downtown in 15 minutes.

how about happy hour happiness stemming from not being at work? i know i am much happier with a cold beer in my hand instead of a blueprint.

Get Happy!


Are there an Speakeasys that became bars and still in operation like Chumley's in NYC.
It's been closed for repairs for the last two years.

Wikipedia on it's colorful history:

GDA, the Owl Bar opened in the early 1900s, then became a speakeasy, and is still going strong (as a bar) these days.

I've always loved the Owl Bar. It has a distinctive feel that no other bar in Baltimore has. One thing that I always found amusing about it though is the fact that the art glass windows over the bar with that well-known English verse depicted pane-by-pane has always been incomplete. It reads something like "A wise old owl sat in an oak. The more he sat, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard". And there is where the verse ends at the Owl Bar. Each of those above three lines is illustrated with words in a separate large panel of leaded stained glass window. Unfortunately, at some point in the past, panel number four must have been lost, broken, removed, or stolen. It is supposed to read "Why can't we be like that wise old bird?". Questioning folks about it at the Owl Bar just gives a puzzled look with a lack of any type of response other than "Oh yeah, I thought it sounded like something was missing!" So, whatever happened to the last panel of glass, and when did it go missing?

I think the Owl Bar could be so much more. The last couple times I was there it was Latin Night! Is that the best they can come up with? Just seems like a little revamping is in order...

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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