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The term “happy hour” is synonymous with drinking, but that wasn’t always the case. The history of the happy hour began with the Navy and wasn’t a daily thing, but a weekly hour of entertainment to relieve the boredom of a life at sea. Once prohibition hit in the 1920s, the happy hour began to take on the meaning that we all know today.

First Happy Hour

History of the Happy Hour

The Happy Hour concept began in the Navy during WW1 in 1914 and was an hour of entertainment meant to break up the monotony of life at sea. Initially, alcohol was not a part of the happy hour concept. After all, it was wartime, and our boys needed always to be ready and alert. That didn’t mean that there wasn’t plenty of downtime on the ships. To combat boredom, a weekly hour of entertainment was held featuring music, dancing, and often a movie or a boxing match. It wasn’t until prohibition that the happy hour evolved to a secret drinking hour.

Happy Hour and Prohibition

When prohibition hit in the 1920s, many Americans started using the term “happy hour” as a secret code for “let’s get together and drink some of this contraband I have hidden in my basement.” Sometimes, happy hour was code for meeting at a local speakeasy, other times, happy hours were held in private before going out to dinner. This law-breaking ritual soon because synonymous with the modern-day cocktail hour.

Modern-Day Happy Hour

Gaslamp Denver
Join us for a fun, modern-day happy hour at Gaslamp.

When prohibition ended in 1933, the happy hour was no longer secret and began to evolve into the happy hour concept we know today. Because drinking was no longer outlawed, restaurants and bars began to capitalize on this concept to bring people out, away from the at-home cocktail hour. Thus, the discounted cocktails and snack concept was born, and the modern-day happy hour took full effect.

Join us at the Gaslamp for delicious happy hour cocktails while socializing with friends and watching sports on TV.