Happy hour is one of the greatest inventions in history. If you're really honest with yourself, I think you'll agree that only wide-screen TVs, frozen pizza rolls, propane barbecue grills and Victoria's Secret compare. And like the last of these, happy hours have had a major social impact, giving first yuppies, then Gen-Xers and now whatever they (Oprah and Dr. Phil) have decided to name this latest bunch of twenty-somethings somewhere to congregate and, with any luck, learn a little something about the birds and the bees. Victoria's Secret, in collusion with the Democrats and the Sex Lady from Oxygen, has made sex more public, allowing people to be more brazen when at social events; before you know it, women everywhere will be comfortable wearing their thongs above their pants at formal dinners, funerals and their own weddings. As long as Heidi Klum can pull it off, I'm sure it will be deemed socially acceptable.
But while going to the lingerie store may seem like a satisfying experience, loitering outside Victoria's Secret could be seen as a social liability (that's why they distribute the catalogue to all guys between the ages of thirteen and 43). We at the Institute of Drinking Studies encourage actual human interaction, which is why we endorse the happy-hour concept -- particularly since you can get away with just about any human interaction at a good, local happy hour.
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Happy hour has long been romanticized as an environment where questionable morals and poor judgment predominate. If you look back at old TV shows and movies, they depict happy hour much like an orgy, only with clothed people. As social responsibility was forced upon us, things cooled off a bit -- if only because you never know whether that attractive person you just ordered a drink for might harbor flesh-eating bacteria or collect earlobes for a hobby. But now we seem to have swung full circle, with bar and beer advertisements as well as word of mouth touting the best happy hours for hooking up or just seeing beautiful people.
After work one day recently, we headed for Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse (8100 East Orchard Road, Greenwood Village), eager to experience what had been described by one professional drinker as a happy hour filled with attractive socialites and young professionals from the Denver Tech Center. Things started out well, as we were greeted by a bevy of beautiful girls acting as hostesses, one of whom I swear was Lisa Loeb, whom I haven't heard much about lately, probably because she's moonlighting in Denver. They all had immaculately constructed hair, skin and nails, bright smiles and the requisite black dresses with the fronts cut halfway to their belly buttons. Our bartenderess, Stacy (I think), promptly brought well-made, overpriced drinks. As our vodka input increased, our Neanderthal output skyrocketed commensurately. The Head of Drinking Regrets, in typically aggressive fashion, cornered all twenty of the hostesses with the ice-breaking maneuver of soliciting names for his new boat. I rapidly ended the conversation -- in the process determining that the humor level at Del Frisco's was at the molecular level -- when I suggested "Clothing Optional." (As of press time, this name was still the front-runner.)
8100 East Orchard Road, Greenwood Village
While our trio made up 20 percent of the bar population, we accounted for about 99 percent of the volume. You could see heads turn and shake as we retold some of our stories for the 52nd time. (They only get funnier with time and drinks.) I think Stacy was getting nervous or getting some heat from the management, because she tried desperately to engage us in more appropriate conversation. But her efforts were to no avail, because we used every ploy to drag her down to our level of mentation. And finally, we had to ask: Where the hell was the happenin' happy hour? There were still maybe twenty people in the bar, all engaged in hushed conversation with no apparent courting activity. One researcher said he felt like he needed a walker to fit in. Stacy had no explanation for the gap between the popular perception of Del Frisco's happy hour and reality. But then, she probably didn't want to say anything that would inspire us to launch into another thirty-minute discourse on love and perversion.
I love Del Frisco's, the restaurant, which serves peerless steaks -- but its happy hour failed miserably. For a real, old-school, questionable-character, wonder-who's-next-to-you-the-next-morning happy hour, I suggest you look elsewhere. Perhaps the nearest Victoria's Secret.