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Virginia restaurants can now promote happy hour

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – After being given final approval earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced today that restaurants are now allowed to advertise drink specials using the phrase, “happy hour.”

Happy hour advertisements weren’t previously allowed due to fears of underage drinking, drinking and driving and alcohol abuse.

Now bars and restaurants may promote their hours of drink specials via social media, website, print and TV ads and signs outside of the business.

Although happy hour advertisements are allowed, businesses are not allowed to include specific drink specials, because of possible price wars between restaurants.

See the chart released by Virginia ABC below for examples of acceptable promotions.

Statement Acceptable
Happy hour from 4–7 p.m. daily Yes
Join us for happy hour drink specials Yes
We offer drink specials from 3–8 p.m. Monday–Friday Yes
Offering the best happy hour in Chesapeake Yes
Enjoy discounted margaritas from 4–7 p.m. No. The word discounted may not be used; the only approved phrases are “happy hour” and “drink specials.” Also, the drink type may not be listed (margaritas).
Beer and wine specials from 5–9 p.m. daily No. Drink types may not be listed (beer and wine).
$2 off highballs No. Drink types may not be listed (highballs). Also, specific discount amounts may not be promoted.
Thirsty Thursday: beer specials from 4–8 p.m. No. Drink types may not be listed (beer). In addition, “Thirsty Thursdays” or “Wet Wednesdays” or any other alcoholic beverage-related phrase cannot be promoted with the time frame. But, if it said only “Thirsty Thursday drink specials,” that would be permitted because “Thirsty Thursdays” would not be referring to a specific time during which alcoholic drinks are discounted.
2-for-1 rail drinks during happy hour No. 2-for-1 drink specials are illegal anytime and any place
Valentine’s Day package: shared appetizer, pasta entrée, and dessert plus a bottle of Virginia-made wine for $50 per couple Yes. Food and alcoholic drink package pairings may be promoted if an exact amount of alcohol is specified
Happy hour 6–10 p.m. daily No. All happy hours and discounted drink offerings must end by 9 p.m.
New Year’s Eve package: One night at a hotel, dinner and brunch for two, and unlimited champagne for $175 No. Licensees may not offer unlimited alcoholic beverages
Introducing our new drink, The Pilot, featuring Barcardi Limon rum. Only $7 Yes. If The Pilot is always $7 (anytime on any day), the drink may be advertised with both the cost and alcoholic beverage included as long as no manufacturer or wholesaler money is involved in the retailer’s advertising
20 wings and pitcher of Bud Light for $15.99 from 5–7 p.m. Yes. If the beer is regular menu price and the ad is not being paid for by a manufacturer or distributer, discounted food may be advertised


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