As many young adults graduate from college and go into the working world, going to happy hours with colleagues and friends becomes your new reality. However, after participating in your first few happy hours, you’ll quickly find that happy hours are not quite what you expected.

Happy hours are home to both newcomers and seasoned experts alike. As for newcomers, you don’t have to worry if happy hours aren’t what you expected, because even happy hour experts don’t know what to expect! After all, it’s the nature of happy hours to be fun and unpredictable. Having said that, here are some Happy Hour expectations vs. reality that will give you an idea of what happy hours are like, and as for seasoned folks, I’m sure this will give you a bit of a chuckle. View the infographic.

Expectation: Being lured in by a new happy hour sign an expecting an amazing menu selection

Reality:…only to find out that the menu consists of pickles, some salted nuts, and a pint of the cheapest grade beer.

When you’ve been to the same few happy hours a bunch of times, it’s easy to fall prey and get excited when you see a “New Happy Hour” sign. The promotions for drinks look great but ever notice how they often don’t mention any food? Think about it: those A-frame signboards with quirky, witty one-liners–often even embellished with fancy calligraphy. They all emphasize how you should “live like it’s happy hour” and enjoy a drink for a super cheap price. These signs are often inviting, promoting the best single offer to lure you in and once you’re trapped, the job is done.


Expectation: Getting a couple of drinks with friends to catch up on the latest gossip.

Reality: Starting off with one gin and tonic or vodka cranberry and the next thing you know you’re five drinks deep, stumbling into a cab to get home.

I’m sure many whom have watched a typical comedy movie or chick-flick often watch scenes of a few close friends or workers meeting at the bar, casually sipping on their drink (or downing it depending on how their day was). Then you watch them get up and leave the bar completely fine. This, of course, is not the reality many of us experience. Instead, we stumble our way home completely blasted, mentally and emotionally preparing ourselves for a hangover the next day.


Expectation: Finally going to the happy hour that everyone’s been talking about…

Reality:…only to find out that it’s been discontinued.

This is something many have experienced. Your friends telling you about a great promotion online or in-stores and when you finally bring yourself to check it out, the deal has expired. Well, happy hours are no different. The saddest part is just you standing there, taken aback, thinking to yourself: “Now what? Do I awkwardly leave or do I pay for the $15 cocktail while crying on the inside?”


Expectation: Telling my friends: “I’m going to take it easy and drink less.”

Reality: Texting my friends: “Happy Hour, anyone?”

Many of us have told ourselves, “I’m going to chill this week and I won’t drink much.” But the next thing you know, you’re walking into your favorite bar, greeting your favorite bartender, ready to have a good time and do some damage once again.


Expectation: Going to the popular bar’s happy hour down the street…

Reality:…only to see your boss there and he spends the whole time talking about work & emails.

Remember when you were a kid and you’re out at the mall, and in the distance, you see your principal walking down your direction. And your first instinct is to turn around and quickly walk away? Well if you thought you’ve finally escaped that part of your life, think again.


Expectation: Thinking you will save money on cheap food.

Reality: Splurging on tons of because “treat yourself”, am I right?

Yes, food is so much cheaper during happy hours. But are you really going to pass up the chance to treat yourself after a long, tiring day at work? As the iconic Retta’s character, Donna, in Parks and Recreation once said:


Expectation: Enjoying a great happy hour…

Reality:…only to find out that your waiter “accidentally” charged you for regular price (on one too many occasions).

After a fun time with friends at happy hour and your waiter places the bill in front of you, you find that you were charged regular prices instead of happy hour prices. And then you brace yourself for the awkward conversation coming up, where you have to politely tell your waiter that you were charged wrongly. Yikes. At least you got a 50% discount, am I right?


With all that’s said, our take on Happy Hour expectations vs. reality gives you a glimpse of what happy hours are really like. Happy hours are perfect for catching up with old friends or making new ones. There is an abundance of happy hours available all around the South Bay that offers great deals on drinks and food (real food, I promise). As working young professionals and adults it’s often hard to find time to search for happy hour deals for different kinds of restaurants or bars, which is why we wanted to make it easy for you with our mobile happy hour finder app.