The expressions “Happy Hour Club,” “Happy Hour Social Club,” and similar names, have been in use as the names of social clubs since at least the early 1880s. By June 1913, the crew of the USS Arkansas had started referring to their social gatherings as “Happy Hours.” Their “Happy Hours” included entertainment, boxing and wrestling matches, music, dancing, and movies. In 1914 at the end of World War I, the practice of holding “Happy Hours” had spread throughout the entire Navy. Ending World War 1 on June 1, 1914, the Secretary of the Navy issued General Order 99 prohibiting the use or introduction of alcohol on any ship or station. It was a course well run by the Navy, but the name “Happy Hour” wasn’t the only alcohol-related item inspired by the military. Happy Hour requires drinks, and here are a few well-known drinks inspired by armed forces the world over.
1) Gin & Tonic – Douglas Fir brandy, fresh squeezed lime juice, tonic water. This legendary drink was introduced to the army of the British East India Company at the height of the British Empire. Malaria, a constant problem with officers and troops in India, was treated at the time with quinine, which tastes bitter and terrible. So the officers started mixing theirs with sugar, lime, and gin to make the stuff drinkable. Today’s tonic water is much sweeter, contains less quinine, and is much less bitter as a result.
2) Cuba Libre – Cognac, splash of rum, and coke. Cuba Libre’ was the battle cry for the Cuba Liberation Army during the war of independence from Spain at the turn of the 20th century. Coca-Cola first came to Cuba in the bags of U.S. troops who invaded the island as part of the Spanish-American War in 1898. In 1900, the cola started being exported to Cuba. According to Charles A. Coulombe, a bartender in Havana named Fausto Rodriguez first served the drink to a U.S. troop named “Barrio” who frequented his bar. Yes, this is a brandy with rum & coke, but it’s so much more.
3) Gunfire – Cognac with hot black tea. A less known drink, this concoction was served to the lower ranking members of the British Army in the 1890’s to give them a bump of courage before a morning attack. More recently, British troops in the Korean War would give it out to U.S. military policemen after recovery missions. Some UK troops still consume Gunfire on special occasions, especially Christmas when officers serve it to their troops.
4) Sidecar – Cognac, Cointreau, fresh squeezed lemon juice. Legend has it the Sidecar was created when a WWI Army Captain couldn’t beat a cold. At his favorite bar in Paris, the bartender made this libation and named it after the motorcycle sidecar in which the Captain was usually chauffeured.
5) French 75 – Cognac, fresh squeezed lemon juice, topped with Champagne. World War I fighter pilot Raoul Lufbery was of French and American descent, flying with the Lafayette Escadrille, American aviators who wanted to fight against Germany, even though the United States had not yet entered the war. For French pilots, champagne was the drink of choice. For Lufbery’s American side, that wasn’t enough – so he spiked his champagne with cognac, a mix he said made him feel like he was hit by a French 75mm howitzer.
Cognac flight – 1/2 price
A reminder we will be hosting the WNC Writers’ Network on Wed, 7/14 from 7-9 and will send out particulars, including sign-ups on 7/9.
Another note we are still offering the “bitters workshop” on the 21st of July with specifics on their way! Class includes everything you need for your first 5 bitters!