Social drinking is a huge part of our culture here in 2018, and probably isn’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future. Now, for an influential gentleman, there are clearly right and wrong ways to go about social drinking. We will never advocate going to the bar at 9 and stumbling out at 1 am to not-so-subtly vomit into an alleyway. That’s not classy, and we’re all about being classy.
Moderation is vital in social drinking situations, and the happy hour setting is a perfect way to drink in moderation, be social with friends and colleagues, and save a bit of money as well.
Happy hour origin story
If you don’t care about history, you can skip to the next bold section header, but I find happy hour history to be pretty interesting. The term “happy hour” was originally used by William Shakespeare, a man to whom we owe thousands of words and phrases in our English language. Happy hour referred to a “time of merriment.” If you know your Shakespearean works, you’d know that even King Henry agreed in the magic of happy hour, proclaiming to his lords in the first act of King Henry V (written in 1599), to “omit no happy hour.”
The U.S. Navy furthered the term in the 1920s by providing periods of organized entertainment on their ships in order to allow sailors an escape from long days of work while spending even longer periods at sea. These periods of relaxation and enjoyment after a long day were vital to morale.
Prohibition was ironically where alcohol entered the picture as the main idea behind happy hour. Since the 18th amendment outlawed alcohol, “happy hour” was adopted as a time where individuals would meet in secret before dinner to have a few drinks.
Happy hour today
Nowadays happy hour is essentially an extended after-work period with discounted drinks to help everyone unwind after a day at the office. We can head out with coworkers before going home for dinner, or we can meet up with our friends from outside our jobs to relax and forget about the work day’s grind.
Regardless of who and where you meet, happy hour is a great example of social drinking done right. This isn’t the time to binge drink or see how many shots you can rip before dinner. This is a time where you engage in conversation with friends or coworkers. With the latter group, you can learn about those you work with outside of a business setting, getting to know more about them and develop friendships. If you’re with friends, you can offer advice to each other about your work lives, or help each other forget about a stressful day. Conversational opportunities are endless, and a couple drinks simply aids in helping you unwind and open up a little.
And remember the best part of happy hour: discounted drinks. This is where some research is involved, because not all happy hours are equal. Some offer a dollar off drafts, others offer half-priced cocktails and appetizers. Trial and error is key here. Try out a few different places that are close to work or home and see which have the best deals.
Don’t go overboard
Remember, this is about socially drinking in a responsible manner. A phrase I like to use a lot is that “alcohol should enhance the entertainment, not be the entertainment.” Drinking for the sake of drinking is what gets us into trouble.
Happy hour is perfect because you’re most likely going to have to drive home within an hour or two, so one or two drinks, maybe 3 if you’re going to be a while there, is perfect and shouldn’t lead to any incriminating behavior. Obviously you should know your limit here, since all of our tolerances are different and you should never operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
So, text your buddies or talk to your coworkers this week about hitting a happy hour. I find a Friday happy hour is perfect for starting the weekend off with some reasonable drinks and excellent conversation, but any day is great to relax at the end of the day. Pick your friends, pick your day, and spend some time unwinding.