If you’ve ever been around me, you are probably familiar with my favorite response to the phrase Happy Hour. “That is my middle name.” All jokes aside, who doesn’t love discounted drinks? Living in New York City all my life has gotten me accustomed to many things: A 24 hour metro system, stores closing past 6pm and Happy Hours.
What is the Happy Hour culture? Besides a good excuse for drinking, it is a social activity that in New York City, can be any day of the week. The peak of Happy Hour culture is evident on Thursday and Friday nights. With a hard working corporate culture, it’s common to find relief in after work happy hours. It’s more than having cheap drinks. It’s a great way to meet new people, for backpackers to mingle and not go broke and discover new venues.
Some good examples of New York City happy hour:
- 5 shots of anything – $10 all day / all night
- 4 – 8pm – everything’s $2-$4
- 8pm – 4am – everything’s $2-$6
- $4 well drinks
- $3 and $4 drafts
- $2 cans and $10 buckets (6) of PBR, Natty Light, and Rolling Rock
- Monday – Friday 4pm – 8pm
- All beers, house wines and spirits $4
- Weekend Brunch Special $10 includes Brunch + 2 Complimentary Drinks
But I’ve noticed in other parts of the world that Happy Hour isn’t as big of a deal as we New Yorkers make it. It’s normal to just go out for a drink after work in The Netherlands. Meanwhile, we have after work parties dedicated to drowning ourselves away from our work related issues.
In South America, happy hour existed to cater to backpackers. In a hostel in Ecuador, 2 for 1 Caipirinha’s were $1.75/USD (Luckily, they use the currency I use which makes this a ridiculous deal.) But when you visit local venues, there isn’t a great emphasis on happy hour. (Even though drinks are already cheap, for locals, there is no Hora de Feliz!)
Why does New York City capitalize Happy Hour?
Spotted: Tons of tourists in Times Square with the same clueless look on their face. Many are backpackers or budget travelers like you and me, looking for a pint on in a bio, overwhelming city. With lots of foreigners who want to sit down after a long day of sightseeing and throw back a couple, a suitable happy hour is perfect!
Of course, tourists are travelers. But, New York is also a place where many travelers stay for a while. It may be an expensive place to travel, but for those who might be couch surfing or staying with family, or even studying abroad, finding that local spot you always go back to is helpful. I always take people across the River to Hoboken, NJ for cheap drinks. (Technically, not New York City, but close enough!)
Travelers seem to love the idea of a social happy hour; for it is a good reason to drink! New York City seems to be the capital of many (recent) travel tweetups! It is a great way to meet and greet your favorite bloggers or travel media companies. You’ll always remember that great Irish Pub you drank too much at with this blogger or that backpacker. Happy Hour + Travelers = A good time.
Part of the New York lifestyle is budgeting without sacrificing quality. Happy Hour doesn’t have to mean poor quality drinks in a hole in the wall. The purpose of happy hour is to cater to fast paced New Yorkers and wandering tourists. To entice us, providing a substantial variety of choices in a decent place is fair game.
As a native New Yorker, in such a fast paced city, it is great to unwind after a long day at a great local spot. There is always a new face to see and familiar faces of course, but it has grown on me as a must do in New York City.
Do you enjoy happy hour? Do other cities compare in this social lifestyle?