The reasoning behind the term “Happy Hour” seems pretty self-evident. It’s when a bar or venue schedules an hour, or sometimes several, of cheap drink deals that, therefore, make the patron “happy” (or sometimes sick). However, the phrase has origins that many might not be aware of, and the American Sector Bar & Restaurant at the National WWII Museum is staying true to the term’s military roots.
The words “happy” and “hour” have been combined for centuries to describe pleasant periods of time, and can be found as far back as some original Shakespearean plays. But in the early 1900’s, the term also began being used to describe scheduled entertainment when members of the US Navy on board the USS Arkansas started weekly event nights. These events included music, movies, boxing, wrestling, and more. By the end of WWI, “Happy Hours” became a common practice for the entire US Navy.
The modern and most common conception of a “Happy Hour” has its roots in the Prohibition Era. Speakeasies would host “Cocktail Hours”, or as we know it, “Happy Hours”, during the early evening so that people could get a couple drinks in them before heading to dinner at restaurants where alcohol could not be served. So there it is, the history behind the time of day when your local bar gets extremely crowded.
The American Sector is tipping its hat to the Navy origins of the term “Happy Hour”, as well as combining it with the phrase’s more recent usage in the drinking spectrum. They will now be hosting a Happy Hour from 4 to 7 p.m. every Monday through Friday. Drink specials include half-price cocktails, half-price draft beer, and half off of wine and spirits. Chef Eric Cook will offer delicious small plates and appetizers on Fridays, and a large portion of the food revenue will be donated to the Hogs for the Cause festival.
The American Sector Restaurant & Bar at the National WWII Museum, 945 Magazine St., 504-528-1940, nationalww2museum.org/american-sector