The ever-enjoyable Gridskipper posted a roundup of Boston’s best happy hours yesterday. They highlighted some great bargains (we’re definitely going to try the special at Noir, which was also mentioned in this week’s Dig), but left out one big piece of information: to the great dismay of those Bay Staters who enjoy a cheap tipple, happy hours are technically illegal in the great state of Massachusetts.
Massachusetts abolished happy hours in 1984 in an attempt to limit drunk driving. Although the vast majority of Massachusetts residents know that it’s illegal to offer specials on drinks, many are not familiar with the more arcane provisions of the law. The happy hour law not only prevents bars and restaurants from offering discounted drinks during certain days or hours, but it also prohibits open bars at anything except private events (yet another reason that New Year’s Eve is difficult in the Hub), giving any patron more than two drinks at one time, and (in what is clearly the law’s most sensible provision) serving pitchers of beer or mixed drinks to individuals. Interestingly, although the law’s stated purpose was to reduce drunk driving, the number of fatalities involving alcohol and cars didn’t drop dramatically until 1991, seven years after the law passed. As a fan of both cheap drinking and responsible alcohol consumption, we’ll pine for a day when Massachusetts allows us to do both at the same time. Until that day (which, we’re willing to admit is most likely the neverteenth of Nevuary, two thousand and nevern), we can at least take comfort in the fact that our liquor laws are less weird than those of Pennsylvania.
Boston’s Best Happy Hours [Gridskipper]
“Happy Hour” Ban Starts In Massachusetts [New York Times]
Notice to All Local Licensing Authorities [Mass.gov]
Massachusetts Drunk Driving Statistics [Alcohol Alert!]
Pennsylvania Liquor Laws Explained [MenuPages Philadelphia]
[Photo: Neon Boston]