Every Day Deserves a Few Happy Hours
A guest journal entry from one of Archer’s friends — A.J. Rathbun.
There are hours you dream of as more mundane minutes tic away. Big hours – transatlantic vacations, birthdays, weddings – sure. But, also, those smaller moments which turn an every-day into an extraordinary day. Those particular hours when the day’s winding down, the hours you think of longingly while waiting for them to arrive, the hours when you can drop off your cares and worries like they were an old jacket as you amble inside a bar, the sparkling hours, the happy hours.
Happy hour, as a named ideal, has been around over a hundred years, starting as a phrase for off-duty navies before taking grasp of the national psyche in earnest in the 1920s. The silly failed experiment called prohibition helped to underline the escape, the mood, and the cocktails and drinks ingrained into a memorable happy hour. It’s a revered time of day, work or scheduled routine in the rear view, dinner and the night to come not yet arrived, a time – when elevated to effervescent heights – that leads to those involved “drinking together friendly,” to paraphrase Shakespeare in Henry the IV, Part II. Shakespeare, who loved a great happy hour, even if the terminology wasn’t in place during the 1600s.
The rub, though, is that not any old happy hour elevates the mind and spirit properly. You need to be at a quintessential bar, tavern, watering hole, lounge, or pub, one where that particularly joyous happy hour feeling permeates the atmosphere like the vermouth in a well-stirred martini. The bar must be a haven from the cares of the world, with bottles and glasses twinkling, one where, as poet Patricia Beer said, “every traveler stops.” When you walk in, you should automatically smile. Laughter and clinking ice filling the air. Bartenders smiling back at you. Because without grand bartenders, mixologists, ice-crackers, sturdy stirrers, bottle-top-twisters, cork un-corkers, story-tellers, and cocktail makers, the bar and happy hour falls short. You must have ones who both make drinks the gods would sing of and make the whole bar jollier by their presence and person.
Whether you come in by yourself or with others, during a proper happy hour, you’re never alone. Fantastic friendly bartenders and waitstaff are a start. The people are friendlier, as well. Work’s done, frenetic dressed-up evening affairs haven’t yet started, the inclination is decidedly chill, to coin a modern phrase. Relax, the bar calls to you, there’s no stress here, only convivial conversation, friends you know and those you’ll soon know, snacks to entice and not spoil your appetite, and well-made welcoming drinks. Not too heavy pours – we’re not at a cattle trough. Drinks crafted with care, balanced, heavenly. Each sip, the taste and atmosphere lingers. But even that’s not all – in the best happy hours, the legends, in the pantheon of pre-dinner party spots, you feel the history, as you partake, from memorable happy hours in the past. You become part of a communal historic early-evening revelry as your cocktail or wine is consumed, refilled. Shakespeare in one corner, Dickens in another, you in a third, a past patron of this very bar in a fourth.
You’re in the right place, and you deserve it, the right happy hour reminds us, whether you’ve spent the day slaving in front of a screen or scampering up a mountain, visiting a history museum or making house calls. A hard day working or a hard day on vacation. You deserve to drink better. Laugh longer. Be happy. You’ve made it here, where you belong. Have a cocktail, share a smile.
Because every perfect day needs a few happy hours.