How you doin’? It’s Happy Hour time! Do you know where the term happy hour comes from? The words "happy" and "hour" have appeared together for centuries when describing pleasant times. In Act I, Scene 2 of William Shakespeare's King Henry V, he says, "Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour/That may give furtherance to our expedition..." The use of the phrase "happy hour," to refer to a scheduled period of entertainment is also of a more recent vintage.
One possible contemporary origin of the term "Happy Hour," in the sense of a scheduled period of entertainment, is from the United States Navy. In June 1913, the crew of Arkansas had started referring to their regularly scheduled smokers as "Happy Hours." The "Happy Hours" included a variety of entertainment, including boxing and wrestling matches, music, dancing, and movies. By the end of World War I, the practice of holding "Happy Hours" had spread throughout the entire Navy and was moving closer to the heartland of America.
The idea of drinking before dinner had its roots in the Prohibition era. When the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act were passed banning alcohol consumption, people hosted "cocktail hours", also known as "happy hours", at speakeasys before eating at restaurants where alcohol could not be served. Cocktail lounges continued the trend of drinking before dinner into today’s restaurant lexicon.
In our restaurants, “happy hours” included 99¢ well drinks and mixed cocktails, free appetizers and light entertainment. One of the house favorites was the Old Fashioned. As cocktail recipes come and go by the season, the Old Fashioned seems to have remained and prospered. It represents everything a well-crafted cocktail should be—perfectly balanced. It’s simply the best, and you can easily make them tonight in the comfort of your own “quarantined” home.
Making the perfect Old Fashioned is the essence of simplicity. A good American bourbon whiskey, a little sugar and a dash of bitters, stirred up with quality, clear ice and garnished with an orange peel — that’s all there is to it! So, here’s what you need and how to do it.
Prep time: 3 minutes
Yield: 1 Old Fashioned cocktail
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
1/4-ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 large clear ice cube
Orange peel, for garnish
ChefSecret: There is one female bartender who makes a killer Old Fashioned at Eataly in Century City, California… sorry, I didn’t catch her name. When in SoCal, after the “lock-down” is over, try the roof top bar, you won’t be disappointed.
I wanted to know how popular an Old Fashioned is around the country. I consulted my special liquor consultant—Google—to see how it still stacks up. Here’s what I found (see list below). How does this stack up to what you and your friends are drinking right now? Let me know, we want to hear your comments.
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