No matter where you’re from I can assume that you you have heard of happy hour, but do you know where it originates from? While in Europe last week we were often given Aperitifs before our meals. Although I had heard the word before, I didn’t know how it connected to anything in my life back home. After researching I found a very interesting connection.
Aperitifs are beverages, usually wine, liqueur or dry champagne, served before the meal to stimulate appetite. We were often given a champagne toast before our dinners on our cruise or invited upstairs for a 45 minute happy hour. Aperitifs were introduced in France in the 1800s as a way to get quinine into soldiers before heading off to northern Africa, where they encountered Malaria ridden mosquitos. The drink became so popular it spread throughout Europe. By the late 19th century aperitifs became quite popular in Italy and soon made their way to the United States. The European aperitif soon became happy hour in the United States or what we may know as before dinner cocktails.
Now this all made sense, I love learning the history of activities that I would assume have no significance in the past. But then the apricot schnapps shots were brought to us almost nightly after our dinners. This sort of post dinner beverage is served after the coffee course and is known as a digestifs. Digestifs are brandy, liqueurs or liquors meant to aid in the digestion of the meal. The reason we were given apricot schnapps as our digestifs were due to their popularity in Austria and Eastern Europe.
So the next time you head to happy hour before dinner remember that it was first introduced to save soldiers from getting Malaria. And if you are interested in a post meal shot, assume that you are doing the healthy thing, by aiding in the digestion of your meals.