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Happy Hour Promotion Restrictions Eased

What You Can and Can’t Say

As of January 29, 2014, restaurants may use the phrase happy hour and promote the time span of drink specials on flyers and posters, social media, their website, a sandwich board located on the sidewalk outside their business and in print and broadcast ads. In the past, Virginia restaurants could only advertise happy hour inside the establishment or on a 17-by-22-inch sign attached to the outside of the business.

Here are some specific examples to let you know what is considered acceptable promotion under the new regulation changes.

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.
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


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