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Beer for a blind pig

india Updated: Sep 14, 2012 18:43 IST
Serena Menon
Serena Menon
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

A-man-drinks-out-of-a-bottle-with-banana-flavoured-beer-brewed-in-Belgium-with-60-fruit-ingredients-from-Brazil-are-on-display-in-Dortmund-western-Germany-during-the-Fair-2011-an-exhibition-for-fair-trade

Sure, the concept of ‘happy hours’ came into being so entrepreneurs could pull in crowds during times of the day when business is low. But corporate working timings aren’t the only things that deserve credit. A few days ago, when Escobar in Bandra introducing ‘happy hours’ made so much news, I, like all responsible drinkers, decided to find out how and why these blessed deals originated, only to discover a world of blind pigs and tigers (read on for the explanation).

As per a piece written by author and cocktail expert AJ Rathbun, ‘happy hours’ was first mentioned “in the 1920s, thanks to the failed experiment called Prohibition (in the USA), when citizens gathered for pre-dining hours focused on consuming then-illegal cocktails at a speakeasy or home bar”. Like all good things, happy hours too seems like a product of rebellion on some level. But what deserves special attention here is the concept of a “speakeasy”, which would — in some universe — make for a stupendous attraction at Mumbai’s bars if introduced. Back in the day, speakeasies (or home bars, as Rathbun says) were also called ‘blind pigs’ or ‘blind tigers’. Imagine what you must, but the Internet was kind enough to explain why:

Once upon a Prohibition, poor citizens of America were starved of social drunken gatherings. That’s when a bunch of very creative bootleggers decided to find a solution. Since they were not allowed to sell alcohol during Prohibition, they decided to charge people a certain amount of money to marvel at random attractions (a pig or tiger?) located at a store or secured location. In return, the owners would give customers a ‘free’ drink or two. Usually functional before dinner, apparently, this practice evolved over the years and came to be called ‘happy hours’.

This is one of the many stories that date back to the 19th century. Whether it’s true or not, only Mr Pig or Mr Tiger can say. But it’d be nice to believe in stories of drunken farm animals chilling with the king of the jungle while occasionally tossing a drink to the average onlooker.

Next time a zoo in Gujarat charges you some obnoxious amounts to get a glimpse of their ‘dandiya dancing monkeys’, you may want to go in with an open mind, a full stomach and a happy liver.