Food & Drink

Rejoice, Illinois: Happy Hour Is Finally Coming Back

Published On 06/01/2015 Published On 06/01/2015

In a rare act of doing something cool, the Illinois General Assembly has approved a measure that would end the state's ban on happy hour because -- believe it or not -- it's been illegal statewide since 1989. 

The Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act revises the state law to finally allow happy hour specials, or drink discounts during certain timeframes -- you know, the half-priced drinks the rest of America enjoys from 5pm to 7pm. Under the existing law, bars and restaurants can offer daily drink specials -- like $3 drafts every Tuesday -- but they have to last all day, which is a really long time to drink $3 beers. You can also say goodbye to the ban on food and alcoholic drink pairings, and preparing house-infused spirits, among other new changes.

But bill also includes some restrictions. Establishments can have happy hour specials for a total of only 15 hours per week, no more than four hours per day, and no later than 10pm, for example. Oh, and the law would still ban glorious two-for-one drink specials, so don't plan on that automatic double fisting bonus. That is all to say: you'll get happy hour back, but bars have to plan it all out.

The Illinois Senate voted 52-1 to approve the bill on Sunday after it passed in the House last week, ostensibly because both parties like to party (get it?), sending the bill to Gov. Bruce Rauner. The bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, said she thinks Rauner will likely sign it, since it's a pro-business move that will also increase tax revenues. Once signed, the law would take effect immediately, and local governments will be able to bring the post-work drink specials back to the masses.

"I'm very excited about it," Feigenholtz said when reached by phone. "I have always lamented that Chicago didn’t have a happy hour."

Someone owes this woman a happy hour drink.

Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and doesn't miss not having happy hour in Chicago now that he's soaking it up in NYC. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.



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