Happening Happy Hours
The Edison’s legend extends far beyond its Los Angeles address. Standing at the forefront of the classic cocktail/mixology
resurgence, the bar is proving nightly that clas-
sic cocktails can be produced quickly while still
retaining refined taste and presentation. The venue
serves an average of 1,200 covers a night on
Thursdays and Fridays, and it was with the masses
in mind that Aidan Demarest, director of beverages
and spirits, developed a 35-cent Depression-era
cocktail happy hour on Thursday nights and a soup
kitchen happy hour on Fridays.
“In 1908 when the building originally opened,
the drinks were 35 cents,” explains resident
mixologist Marcos Tello (pictured). “On Thursdays
from 5 - 7 p.m., we have 40 percent off all spirits.
We have a featured sponsor each week, and we
pick a classic cocktail or our variation on a classic
that runs at 35 cents. Originally you could order that drink in small portions for 35 cents, but
it got way too rowdy, and people were ordering 20 at a time. So now we hand everyone
who comes in a token, and that token gets you one of the featured drinks for 35 cents.”
On Friday nights from 5 - 7, Soup Kitchen attendees get two tokens. One is for a free
sample of mini grilled cheese and tomato soup and the other is for a choice between the
401K cocktail (a Gin Daisy) or a Bailout (a Ward 8).
“We have been doing the Thursday nights for over a year and Friday has been at least
eight months, and both nights are packed,” Tello says.
While word of mouth has been the biggest marketing tool for the promotion, fans can
join a mailing list on The Edison’s web site. Weekly newsletters are sent out to participating
patrons, letting them know what’s going on for the week.
Part of the proceeds from each happy hour event go to the Midnight Mission, which
provides service to homeless people in Los Angeles, and the downtown community.
Crystals and Cocktails
With three locations to fill nightly in Las Vegas, the staffs at Sierra Gold venues have to work overtime to promote unique and fun happy hours. Every Saturday from 6 - 9 p.m., the Sierra Gold
taverns in Las Vegas host “Ladies Night at Sierra Gold” where they give away Swarovski crystal necklaces
and Gold’s Gym memberships throughout the three hours. Drink specials include $4 Casa Noble tequila
cocktails, MGD 64 and Sobe and Belvedere vodka cocktails (each company is an event sponsor). Belvedere
provides four crystal necklaces for each evening, which are given away every hour from 6 - 10 p.m.
“The necklaces are valued at $125 and are shaped like the tree on the Belvedere bottle,” explains
general manager Tami Wells. “With each purchase of a Sobe/Belvedere cocktail, you get one entry to win.
We do different drinks each week, like our Agave Lemonade. The women come in for the necklaces, and
the guys come in for the women. In this economy it works well to offer your patrons an incentive to come
and spend money.”
To market the happy hour, Wells and the other employees send out e-mail blasts, pass out fliers in the
casinos and work in word-of-mouth marketing on-site.
During happy hour, Seattle’s Spur Gastropub offers patrons something
they may never have again — depending,
of course, on their own response.
“The promotion doesn’t really have
a name,” explains bartender Kevin
Langmack, “but basically our two chefs
use happy hour as a testing ground for the
The chefs come up with interesting new
dishes in bite size portions that are served
Sunday through Thursday from 5 - 7 p.m.
Ranging from $3 to $5, these mini bites
are listed on a giant chalkboard, and the
bartenders usually get in on the action
with cocktail pairings.
“We play around with drinks priced at
$6 during this time, and since normally
they are $8 to $10, people are more
willing to try them out. A week or
two ago, the chefs made a blackberry
sorbet, and I went in the kitchen, got
blackberries and did a whiskey blackberry
smash,” Langmack explains.
Comment cards are given to each guest
who orders off the happy hour testing
menu, and in addition to getting a feel for
what might work as a permanent addition
to the menu, the staff also gains valuable
knowledge for future marketing purposes
such as e-mail and mailing addresses.
Additionally, the manager in charge of
Spur’s Facebook page uses this information
to find customers on Facebook and request
them as friends for the restaurant.
“A lot of the regulars for this happy
hour are industry regulars,” he continues.
“They come in to take a dinner break
during these hours. I’d say 75 percent of
these dishes have morphed into something
that ends up on the menu. This has been
going on since last November, and Seattle
is such a happy hour town that you have
to have one. But this has been truly great
8 Nightclub & Bar Magazine | OCTOBER 2009