The History of Happy Hour (In Honor of Our New Menu!)

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Terrace Restaurant Features $4 Happy Hour Small Plates

Happy Hour, as we’ve come to know it, is a great way to unwind from a hard day’s work, chat with friends over discounted food, cocktails, and beer, and maybe even get a little buzzed before dinner (if you can drink fast enough). But where and when did this time-honored tradition start? In honor of Terrace Restaurant’s new Happy Hour menu, we’ve cracked open our history books to discover the origins of one of our favorite weekday pastimes.

“To Drink or Not To Drink”

Shakespeare First Used the Term "Happy Hour" in 1599 - Terrace Restaurant Blog

Shakespeare may have been the first person to actually put the words “happy” and “hour” together in print. The term appears in Act I, Scene II of King Henry V (probably written around 1600): “Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour That may give furtherance to our expedition…” Using the phrase to denote a scheduled period of fun or entertainment, however, did not happen until 18th Century…

“A La Votre”

In 18th Century France, "Green Hour" Became a Popular Way To Stimulate One's Appetite - Terrace Restaurant BlogOriginally a cure-all tonic developed by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, Absinthe rose to popularity as an aperitif in late 18th-Century Paris. Because Absinthe had a higher alcohol content than the typical spirits of the time (brandy, usually, or whiskey), it was customary to have only one drink, and affluent Parisians in particular began scheduling their days around the l’heure verte, or “green hour”. Absinthe, it was believed, also sharpened the appetite, making pre-dinner the idea time to indulge…

…You Can Put Your Mind at Ease

The United States Navy Brought Happy Hour into Mainstream Culture - Terrace Restaurant BlogThe United States Navy, surprisingly, played perhaps the biggest role in bringing the modern-day Happy Hour to life. In 1913, a group called the “Happy Hour Social Club” organized “semi-smokers” on board the U.S.S. Arkansas, eventually referring to these get-togethers simply as “Happy Hours.” More than just an excuse to get boozy, these Naval parties included boxing, wrestling, music, dancing and movies. By 1918, the practice of giving sailors a weekly reprieve in the form of “Happy Hour” had spread throughout the U.S. Navy.

Don’t Stop The Party

Prohibition-era Speakeasy - Terrace Restaurant BlogWhen the 18th Amendment (also known as Prohibition) effectively banned alcohol in 1919, illegal drinking establishments sprang up across America. Borrowing the naval slang, these “speakeasys” began offering “Happy Hour” specials—generally moonshine, or whatever spirits the bar could get their hands on—to patrons looking to imbibe surreptitiously. Though Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the concept of Happy Hour persisted.

Today, the tradition has been co-opted and marketed by the food-service industry as a “win-win” situation for both restaurants and customers. See an example of Los Angeles’ best happy hour specials here.

Happy Hour Specials at Terrace Restaurant & Lounge