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How Happy Hour Started - go!
Travel & Food

The Secret History of Happy Hour

And some places in Metro Manila to get your fix

No longer feeling productive? After-work fatigue getting to you? It may be time for a midweek respite from the grind. Here, treating yourself to a cocktail or two during a happy hour session might just do the trick.

Do you know how happy hour came about, though? This is the secret history of the all-time favorite 5-to-9 PM pastime and where to do it in Manila.

The Origin of Happy Hour 

It all started in the United States, first documented in 1914 and coined by the Navy. “Happy hour” held an entirely different meaning, though, and had little to do with alcohol at the time. The term referred to a weekly entertainment line-up in the form of dancing, live music, boxing, and wrestling matches, or movie showings set up to alleviate boredom while at sea.

After the Prohibition era, Americans depicted happy hour in the same manner as we do today—except, of course, this was treated as a hush-hush affair. Knocking back a few in secret, law-breakers would congregate at a friend’s home or at a speakeasy to drink before having dinner.

Happy hour as a practice continuously garnered interest with more civilians engaging in the illegal activity until the end of the Prohibition era. During this period, restaurants and bars opted to take advantage of its momentum by making it public, eventually leading to the commercially-accepted happy hour by the 1960s. This brought discounted cocktails with bar food to the table to entice customers before dinner. 

Customers in Philadelphia after Prohibition toasting together at a bar.

As the Prohibition era came to an end, Americans celebrated by visiting their favorite bars for happy hour. Photo: Shutterstock

The Best Places for Happy Hour in Manila

With more bars opening throughout the metro, there are a few establishments that have withstood the test of time. This is because of their deals, in part, and their delectable array of spirits. If you haven’t popped by these places yet, now’s the time.

A group of friends having a toast.

Wind down after work with a drink (or more) at these bars. Photo: Shutterstock

Long Bar at Raffles and Fairmont

Inspired by the Singaporean bar with the same name, Long Bar is a popular spot for locals and foreigners. It’s located in Makati, one of the busiest business districts in the capital, and houses a number of options for happy hour. Starting at 5 pm and ending at 8 pm, the bar serves unlimited drinks: from local and imported beer, red and white house wine, to cocktails costing P840+ per person.

Several glasses of cocktails placed on a bar table.

Long Bar serves unlimited drinks during happy hour. Photo: @longbarmakati on Instagram


Known for its Japanese-Peruvian fusion, Nikkei is also where you’ll find delicious cocktails for a decent price. The restaurant kicks off its happy hour promo of three drinks for P595 from 2 pm until 6 pm—a perfect place to have your afternoon meetings.

Nikkei Restaurant Façade

Nikkei’s happy hour is perfect for winding down after work. Photo:

Dr. Wine

A well-loved rooftop bar located in Poblacion, Dr. Wine isn’t only for wine lovers but should be on your list for their other boozy choices. Similar to Long Bar, Dr. Wine offers free-flowing cocktails from 5 pm to 8 pm, which can be enjoyed along with a Makati rooftop view. A second option for your consideration? The Dr. Wine branch in Burgos Circle.

Dr. Wine’s rooftop bar with the city skyline.

Dr. Wine offers free-flow cocktails during happy hour. Photo:

The Palace

Well-liked by Manila’s night owls, Revel, Xylo, Yes Please, and the Island are all open at The Palace for pica-pica as well as meals. The Island currently holds its happy hour from 6 pm to 9 pm, but here’s a fun treat: Globe Postpaid customers can check out the special Globe 917 Happy Hour menu this month from 9:17 pm onwards at all venues, offering discounts on the Mojito, Vodka Sour, Tequila & Tonic, Bramble, and Tiki Drink if they want to keep the party going.

The Palace

Globe postpaid customers can use the special Globe 917: Happy Hour menu at The Palace. Photo:

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Art Matthew Fetalver

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