Creative Ideas for Your Next Happy Hour

Guest Contributor: Robyn Budgell, Ambassador of Buzz, Fytics Inc/Vinocount

You probably already know that a happy hour is a great way to generate sales during traditionally quiet hours. But do you know how to turn your happy hour into a rip-roaring success? Read on for creative ideas for crafting a popular and profitable happy hour program.

Why Host Happy Hours?

Increase sales during low points of the day. Most bars and restaurants tend to be slow between 3-7pm, when most people get off work. A happy hour is one of the best ways to get people in the door during these less-trafficked hours. If someone was planning to head to supper at 8pm, early deals at your bar might encourage them to go at 6pm instead and take advantage of the specials you are offering.

Attract guests who otherwise would not visit your business. Many people tend to stick to the same places over and over again, but if you have a happy hour that is successful, new people will be intrigued and want to give it a try. Plus, a happy hour is the perfect way to turn new customers into returning customers.

Increase your online reach with promotions. People love a deal, and happy hour specials are a great way to give them one. You’re guaranteed significantly more traction with an advertisement for 2-for-1 martinis than a single $12 beverage.

Happy Hour Food Menu Tips

Don’t offer your regular, everyday menu. It can be tempting to simply shorten and discount your regular menu but don’t be tempted! Make a special menu with food options and prices that are specifically for your happy hour.

Focus on small portions and appetizers. People usually come to happy hour with friends for a drink after work or before dinner. Therefore you need to cater to that demographic. Serve items that are small and light and  pair well with a drink.

Load up the menu with shareables for the whole table. Shareable items are a huge hit when people want something light before dinner. Take advantage of this with your menu! Even though you want to keep the menu somewhat short, make sure you still include a variety of choices to appeal to different types of customers and to encourage them to try something new. We love these ideas from Food52.

Happy Hour Drink Menu Tips

Create theme nights. Having a theme night will help you create an amazing atmosphere for your customers and craft a memorable menu. Themed nights also tend to get more attention on social media, which is another great way to get people in your bar or restaurant. Consider promoting your theme night on social media. You could even use a themed hash tag to encourage posting! Try out some fun nights like “Tiki Thursday,” “Flashback Friday,” or another from this list!

Focus your happy hour around the drink deal of the day.  Another creative happy hour strategy is having a different drink special for each day of the week. If someone is not into Martini Monday, she can come for Tapas & Trivia Thursday! There is a lot you can do to create a successful happy hour; by mixing up drink specials and events, you’re giving people a reason to come back on a different day of the week.

Develop signature cocktails. In order to get people in during happy hour, it is a good idea to have signature drinks that are only offered during these hours. Try these ideas. This way, if people like it, they have to come back to happy hour to order the beverage again.


By creating a happy hour, you are creating a relaxed way for customers to try your establishment. Having unique offerings will entice people to return and thus build your list of repeat customers. If your atmosphere is great and people are having a good time at happy hour, it is also possible for them to want to stay for dinner, which will boost sales.

Timing is everything when it comes to happy hour. You want to be sure that you are catching people at the right time. Having a happy hour from 5-7pm tends to work the best. As this is the time most people get off work, and the time they will be most likely to stop in for a drink. Another important thing to remember is to keep these hours consistent! You want customers to know exactly when the happy hour starts and ends without having to check online for the times. Keeping the time, and also the menu, consistent ensures that people will be able to make your happy hour reliable to them. You can use TapHunter to automate menu updates and stay connected with customers over social media. To track which day of the week your happy hour is bringing in the most sales, and which drinks are selling best, you can use a system like Vinocount.