It’s 5 O’Clock Everywhere

Happy hour and drinking customs in other countries can be decidedly different from what we’re used to in our cosmopolitan Magic City.
Text by Sandy Lindsey | June 17, 2018 | Lifestyle

Sit back, relax, have a drink. It’s the end of a long and productive workday and you deserve it. In Miami, we take happy hour and our vast selection of chic bars and great drink deals for granted. But did you know that in Ireland, famed for its pubs filled with loyal customers, happy hour has been illegal since 2003? We didn’t, which spawned the following global quick-trip.
We found another surprising law just north of our national border in otherwise laid-back Ontario, where the Alcohol & Gaming Commission sets minimum prices for drinks. Additionally, bars and restaurants there are not allowed to advertise in a manner that would promote immoderate consumption. For example, venues aren’t allowed to use the term “happy” hour. That’s “sad” news indeed.
A bit further from home, The Netherlands and more European countries than you would expect also control the pricing of alcohol. For example, in The Netherlands it’s illegal to sell drinks at half price. The clever bar owners easily get around this law by doubling the drinks. In Italy, discounted drinks are not the norm. Instead, they offer free finger foods. Thinking about it, this may be an even better deal as you can pretty much make a meal of the generous offerings of gnocchi, bruschetta and more.
Similarly, Spain, too, makes happy hour all about the food with their famous tapas. This is not a new tradition. It reportedly goes back to King Alfonso X who made the local inns — the popular drinking spots of the time — provide food to reduce intoxication. In fact, the name tapa means “cover” in Spanish and dates back to the days when diners had to protect their libations from insects and used pieces of cheese or meat to cover their glass and simultaneously act as a handy snack.
But drinking customs are not confined to just happy hour. In Japan, anytime you’re drinking in a group, it’s considered anti-social to pour your own drink. The Japanese pour each other’s drinks to show friendship and respect. Big drinkers will be happy to learn that the ultimate goal is to have enough rounds so that every person in the group gets to pour at least once for everyone else. And don’t pour your own drink when with a group in Korea, either. When it’s your turn to pour, serve the elders of the group first and never fill a glass that’s still partly full.
In the end, no matter which hemisphere you’re throwing back a couple in, the key is to have fun and enjoy the company you’re with. Who knows? You might just begin a new drinking tradition of your own one day for the world to follow…if you haven’t already.