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Happy Hour in New York

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In this post, we explain what happy hour is, its roots, and offer some resources to help you find happy hour deals in NYC.

Those of you who are familiar with Happy Hour, you know why we call it ‘happy’.  

For those who aren't familiar and like a good beer or drink and are on a budget, Happy Hour is a must-know activity in New York City.

 

Happy Hour in New York

 


WHEN IS HAPPY HOUR?

Happy Hour is a time of day when many bars, pubs, lounges, and even some restaurants offer drink specials such as reduced prices or 'buy one drink, get the second one free' (often listed as 2-for-1).

"Happy Hour" is almost always longer than one hour and usually starts in the late afternoon and ends in the early evenings.

Most commonly, Happy Hours last from 4 pm to 7 pm but establishments vary in schedule and in which specials are offered.  

New York is the city that never sleeps and you can find happy hours at all times of the day.

You may find a Happy Hour with specials that starts at 12 pm and ends at 9 pm or a late-night Happy Hour from 11 pm to 1 am.

There are hundreds of establishments offering Happy Hours throughout the city and to find the best deals with drinks you like and an atmosphere you enjoy, you need some guidance. 

 

Craft beer

 


HOW TO FIND HAPPY HOUR DEALS

Here are the best websites and apps to help you make the most of this fun, money-saving opportunity.

The Drink Deal is very user-friendly and you can search for Happy Hours with additional features like live music, outdoor seating, and food specials like free appetizers such as Buffalo (chicken) wings, a popular American snack at bars and pubs.

Drink Owl is a website that allows you to search by neighborhood, day of the week, and even the type of drink you'd like- be it wine, beer, or mixed drinks. 

If you’d like a quick and easy way to find a happy hour, Drink Owl has an easy to read calendar that lists happy hours by the day. 

For those on the go, they have an app for iOS and Android.

If you are on the go and want a drink at that moment and nearby, the Village Voice Happy Hour mobile site is an up-to-date comprehensive way to locate the nearest places offering deals at the time you search. 

Even better is their Village Voice Happy Hour app for iOS and Android.


WHY IS HAPPY HOUR CALLED SO?

In case you ever wondered where the expression "Happy Hour" came from, its historical roots are grounded in the 1920s.

Sailors on U.S. Navy ships were given a specific period of time to enjoy themselves with different forms of entertainment such as wrestling or boxing matches, and yes, a bit of alcohol as well. 

This break from regular duties was a happy time for the sailors and came to be known as "Happy Hour".

 

US Sailors Fleet Week

 

Ironically, the use of this term spread to land at the same time "Prohibition" began. From 1920 to 1933, the production and sale of alcohol were made illegal in the United States.

You could drink it, only if you could get your hands on some!

Secret clubs called "speakeasies" that sold bootleg alcohol opened all over the country and it was in these illegal establishments, or in private homes, that people would gather for pre-dinner cocktails.

These few hours before dinner used the sailor's term "Happy Hour."  ​

When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the U.S. was drinking again, after work, before dinner ​and that period of time between 5 and 7 pm came to be known forever after as "Happy Hour".

About The Author

Courtney

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: October 3rd, 2021
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