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MPC Events Blog

Happy Hour Chicago

What is a Happy Hour?

Imagine that a few hours in the evening, around when most people get off work, drinks and food at your favorite bar were cheaper. Maybe you and a couple co-workers or friends could get together and relax after a stressful day at work during the weekday. Wouldn’t that be awesome? If only this idea was a reality. *sigh*

Oh wait, it is, and it’s called a “Happy Hour”.

All jokes aside, Chicago recently legalized happy hour specials in July. When I first moved here, I thought they were joking when they said happy hour specials were illegal in Chicago. “Wait, forreal doe?” was my response. I didn’t get why they were illegal so I read up on it. In order to understand why, we have to go back to a time in America when even alcohol was illegal: The Prohibition. To combat “the evils of the drink”, alcohol was outlawed from 1920 – 1933. But like most things, when humans aren’t allowed to have something, they will actually try harder to get it. And so “evils of the drink” related incidents skyrocketed over these 13 years where alcohol was consumed in underground taverns, called speakeasies, hidden from the public.

At the same time, after the First World War, seafaring sailors were allowed to relax during a period before dinner called “Happy Hour”. At this point, this was a common event among Navy men, where they would have wrestling or boxing matches, music and dancing. So when these men came home to their country which had outlawed that which they associated with relaxation, it wasn’t going to stand. So the term slowly started associating itself with alcohol but it wasn’t till the 1960’s and 1970’s when restaurants and bars started to actually use the term as a marketing technique. Profits were high, but so were fatalities related to drunk driving since cheaper drinks meant more indulgence. I guess you could call it “evils of the drink”. This caused over half of the states to outright ban happy hours and until recently, some states are loosening up, including Illinois. 

Alright, history class is over and now you’re on your way to your next class: Happy Hour 101. The only material required for this class is your attention and a cocktail, so be sure not to forget!

10 Reasons You Should Go to Happy Hours

1) Relaxation – Some days, work can be stressful. For some people, EVERYDAY is stressful! Every once in a while, you need to lay back and not worry. You’ll live longer, be happier and work harder because you’ve been refreshed. Some people find drinking to be an avenue of relaxation, others don’t, and that’s fine. I’m not telling you to get obliterated and start dancing on tables (if you do, make sure they’re sturdy tables…trust me), I’m just saying a few drinks once in a while with your friends doesn’t hurt.  Happy hour is perfect for this, especially since the specials are usually from 4 PM – 8PM when most people are done with their 9 PM – 5 PM grind. Grab food, grab a delicious drink and laugh. You’ll thank yourself later.

2) Make new friends – At a happy hour you’ll notice that there aren’t very many super young or super old people hanging out. Most people are professionals in pretty similar age groups, right? And they’re doing the same thing you are for the same reason you are! Boom. Easy to start a conversation and make a new friend. Another plus is that the friendship won’t just be a drunk camaraderie kind of thing, you’ll most likely see the same person again if you both frequent the same bar enough which can lead to a deeper friendship.

3) Mingle with your co-workers – Most of the time, you’ll be attending happy hours with your fellow co-workers after work. Establishing a relationship outside of work with your co-workers can be a little tricky, but nonetheless a great way to increase not only your productivity, but your whole teams productivity. Studies have proven it. I know I never cite the scientific studies I mention, but you’ll have to just trust me! Working alongside someone you know more makes you care more about the work you’re doing. You’re no longer apart from the person you sit next to, you’re in it together. Don’t miss opportunities to create this phenomenon.

4) Good food for a cheaper price– Come onnn, we’re all guilty of eating out once in a while, not just me! And you can’t beat happy hour specials on food at your favorite bar. $6 for scrumptious BBQ wings and $2 tacos?! Shut up and take my money. Don’t stress yourself out, throw down an extra $10 for food. Your stomach will thank you.

5) Change of routine – As I mentioned earlier, taking a break once in a while is actually good for you. Spice things up, be spontaneous and kill the monotony of daily routine for once! Being certain all the time is boring isn’t it? Don’t have plans for once and just go with the flow. “Be the ocean dude, be the waves.” But seriously, a break from the norm can refresh your senses and maybe even put important things into perspective.

6) New experiences – Don’t limit yourself to the same bars unless you live somewhere there aren’t many options. If you live in downtown or near downtown Chicago, you have a plethora of options. I highly recommend going to different bars and finding your personal favorites. Along with that, a lot of bars have really interesting food items and drinks during their happy hours. Take a chance and try something new, maybe it becomes your new favorite!

7) You learn more about yourself – Trying new things, meeting new people and being around something out of your comfort zone can put something’s into perspective for you. I know this one may seem a little out there, but trust me, I’m not on drugs. Doing different things can help you learn what appeals to you. Maybe you never tried sushi and one day you go out to a sushi place for a happy hour on a whim and end up loving it. This happened to me and I was bummed because I could’ve been enjoying sushi for all of these years! I asked myself why I never tried it even though I had many opportunities to. I realized I had this grossly exaggerated image in my head of how I thought sushi was made and after actually seeing how it was made by the chef in front of me, I realized it was literally nothing like my weird imagination had been putting in my head.  From this I learned to assume less and find out facts before I turn down something I don’t know much about. Sushi changed my life *cries*.

8) Become a better socializer – Like anything, being social is a skill. Knowing what to say and how to say it, is something you don’t usually think about and just kind of do…BUT actually we just don’t realize that we are constantly practicing this skill. Try not going out at all and having very minimal social interaction for a few weeks and then try to talk to someone. Betchya it’ll be a little awkward. Going to happy hour is a great chance to hone your social skills. What do you want to work on and make better? Maybe your intonation, joke telling or pace of speech. Practice during your happy hour conversations in a subtle manner. People will never know! Social skills are becoming a commodity in today’s world with thing like Facebook and Twitter so it doesn’t hurt to have ‘em!

9) Know where the hot-spots are in town – Never be at a loss when your friends come over and ask where they should go if they have a specific taste. With you going out to different places for happy hour, you’re well equipped with that knowledge. You know the food, the drinks, the atmosphere, the staff and the prices. Knowing everything can help you make a choice and surprise your friends by giving them a memorable experience.

10) A break from technology – Social media addiction is the #1 leading cause to basic behavior in humans (ok, I actually don’t have a study to base this off of, but still!). Get off the interwebs and have a conversation during a happy hour, like the good old times! Hear the tone of the person you’re speaking with so you know when their being sarcastic and don’t have to guess. See real life emojis: their facial expression and eyes. Actually laugh out loud. Funny how we’ve created complicated ways to express something we can perceive so simply by a face-face conversation.

So have I convinced you yet?! Get out there and enjoy yourself at a happy hour. If you don't know where to find a happy hour, you're always welcome to join one of our many happy hours we do each month. Check out the events page here for our next happy hour. Lastly, as a parting note, please stay safe out there and always know your limits. We all want happy hour specials to stay legal in Chicago!

It's 5'o clock somewhere so cheers,


Sam Amir | Superhost | Meet People Chicago 
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