I was at one of my regular Happy Hour haunts, The Social in Newhall, when I noticed that the bar was completely packed at 5pm, much like it is at Olive Terrace Bar and Grill and Salt Creek Grille when we venture over to the other side of the valley and Le Chene when we want to go even further.

And then I noticed that the people that were packing these bars weren’t 20 somethings…not even 30 somethings…they were people that have “cultivated” their palates for a couple of decades longer than that.

There are lots of great Happy Hours all over Awesometown and we used to do a round-up of their menus annually just to share what they offer. (The last one is our 2016 version you can read here.) The four that I mentioned just happen to be the ones we have been going to of late…at least the past 10 years or so.

So why do we prefer these bars over others? They aren’t particularly loud or noisy, have comfortable seating and, as drinking at 5pm is a precursor to dining at 6 or 7, it seems to work for our seasoned age group.

Of the Happy Hours we go to - the ones that specifically were full very early in the evening - they also offer small bites for free or nominal prices, and some larger plates culled from the main menu. The libations extend from beer and wine to excellently crafted cocktails; one even doesn’t offer any kind of price deal on the drinks at all, just a Happy Hour menu of food. (And that one just happens to be our favorite. Why? Well we can walk there - we’ve said this many times, and yet we never actually have walked there! It’s the neighborhood bar and we often run into people we know. The owner gives us a welcome hug, maybe a peck on the cheek, and we know some of the servers and bartenders. Maybe at a certain age we just like to feel welcome...)

So, as we dined on dishes from appetizers to pastas we noticed how nice it is to dine early, have a well-made cocktail, linger a bit, then go home and…be asleep by 9pm. (And well on our way before the young’uns took over the bars.) However many younger people do go out to Happy Hour - when we were younger these were places with deep discounts, we could get a little rowdy with pals and we would end up staying for dinner as well. (Many were/are family friendly – we weren’t really hip on the idea of bringing our daughter to a bar or winery, but to each his own.) Back in the day that meant the party was to be found at places like TGI Fridays and El Torito. (The latter, if you stayed long enough even offered dancing in the bar. Anyone else remember the Discos of SCV? LOL.)

I feel like the next step for us will be the early bird dinners at iHop, and no cocktail at all…? I hope not. I do know that older friends of mine have pulled back from wine club memberships – at least from wines that are meant to sit in our cellars for 10 years or more – because my pals in their 70s are buying more splits (half bottles), trying to drink through what they already do have and/or are looking for wine brokers to sell their wines to. They do go out…or at least join us for wine on the porch sometimes!

Life is an every changing highway. I’m hoping by the time we start dining at 4pm we’ll be in a place like Atria assisted living, where my mother has happily camped for nearly a year now, and be having cocktails by 2pm and up to two glasses of wine with dinner…now that doesn’t sound too bad does it?

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a "certification in first globally-recognized course" as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com