New policy could allow bars to advertise happy hour on social media

Posted at 8:57 PM, Nov 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-13 00:03:58-05

Some people prefer a glass of wine at Sonoma Wine Bar and Bistro in Virginia Beach.

Others jump at the chance for a cold brew at Baxter's Sports Lounge in Downtown Norfolk.

It’s just a little something to hit the spot after a long day in the office.

But since the 1930's, happy hour in Virginia has been banned, at least when it comes to advertising.

Bars around the state cannot promote their happy hour specials on TV, radio, or even the Internet.

Trying to tip toe around the ABC's rules, bars have taken to Facebook and Twitter.

Like Keegan's in Virginia Beach, promoting "Appy Hour" with 1/2 price appetizers or Public House in Norfolk, calling patrons to join them for "Hoppy Hour" beers.

“Now that we are becoming a digital age, social media is so important. Before, the laws weren't even written to take that into consideration,” says Emily Ann Wagener of Sonoma Wine and Bar Bistro.

Add to that the fact that ABC stores themselves bend the rules by advertising on the internet for their black Friday specials.

Bar owners wonder why they can't do the same.

The potential penalty includes up to 12 months jail time, up to a 2500 dollar fine, and the revocation of a bar's ABC license.

So for the past 18 months, the bar industry has been lobbying hard for changes to the Virginia code.

And this month, the ABC board finally made the decision to join the 21st century.

New rules on happy hour are headed to the governor's desk just waiting to be signed into law.

Soon, bars will be able to advertise their happy hour times, with a list of specialty drinks just as long as they don't mention actual prices.

TV, radio, Facebook, Twitter—nothing is off limits any longer for local watering holes trying to entice you to spend time at the bar after work instead of the interstate.

Is ABC bending rules by Facebooking their Black Friday specials?

Virginia ABC stores announce Black Friday sales