Happy hour returns to Hoosier state


Happy days are here again in Indiana. At least, by the hour.

Signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb in March, House Bill 1086 went into effect July 1, allowing retailers and craft manufacturers to “reduce or increase the price of alcoholic beverages during a part of the day” — marking the return of happy hour for the first time in the Hoosier state since 1985.

Patrick Tamm, president and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association, said the initial ban on happy hour almost 40 years ago was a “knee jerk reaction” to some tragic alcohol-related events. Since the ban, the state has allowed all-day drink specials but not “happy hour” designations.

Tamm said the change was bipartisan and includes several restrictions. Happy hour can only run until 9 p.m.; 2-for-1, bottomless drinks and contests involving alcohol are prohibited; and happy hour is limited to four hours a day and 15 hours a week.

“There was a lot of work done with the Alcohol and Tobacco Commision to make sure it was done in a way that was responsible,” Tamm said, adding that most establishments will likely opt for happy hour promotions in late afternoon and early evenings, Mondays through Thursdays.

“It really allows a restaurant to take a look analytically and historically to see when they are slow,” Tamm said. “Each business owner will make those decisions, and it will be day-by-day and week-by-week.”

Tamm said the amended law included a “cocktails-to-go” measure, which allows a bar or restaurant to prepare, sell and deliver alcoholic beverages for carry-out to a customer in sealed, nonoriginal qualified containers.

“It means margaritas, punches, vodka and soda to-go with the purchase of a carry-out meal,” Tamm said. “If (a retailer) has signature cocktails, they can sell that… It’s a good option for customers if restaurants choose to utilize that privilege.”

Read the text of the bill at iga.in.gov/legislative/2024/bills/house/1086/details.