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FOOD HISTORY: The History Of Happy Hour

Bloody Mary With Peppadew
[1] Among the most popular cocktails in the U.S. are the Bloody Mary (photo © Bonefish Grill)…

[2] The Martini (photo © Ruths Chris Steak House)…

[3] The Cosmopolitan (photo © Inspired By Charm)…

Classic Margarita
[4] The Margarita (photo © Casa Noble Tequila)…

Classic Daiquiri
[5] The Daiquiri (photo © Tempered Spirits)…and…

[6] The Moscow Mule (photo © Smirnoff).


November 12th is National Happy Hour Day.

If you work anywhere near a bar or lounge, you’ve probably seen a sign for Happy Hour.

Happy hour is a marketing term for a time when venue (such as a restaurant, bar, bowling alley, stadium, state fair, or county fair) offers discounts on alcoholic drinks.

Free appetizers and discounted menu items are often served during happy hour.

But it hasn’t always been that way.

While the words “happy hour” have appeared for centuries to describe enjoyable times, its use to refer to a scheduled period of camaraderie is of much more recent vintage.

Since at least the early 1880s, the terms Happy Hour Social, Happy Hour Club, Happy Hour Social Club and similar names, had been in use as the names of women’s social clubs [source].

They did not include alcohol, nor did the Navy’s version.

In 1913, the crew of the U.S.S. Arkansas had started to refer to their regularly scheduled “smokers” as “Happy Hours.”

There was no alcohol allowed onboard. Instead, these Happy Hours were a weekly entertainment for bored sailors at sea.

They included boxing and wrestling matches, movies and music. By the end of World War I, these “Happy Hours” had spread throughout the entire Navy [source] and “dr.

But alcohol was not restricted offshore, as evidenced by the “Drunken Sailor” song and “drunk as a sailor” anecdotes.

A 1959 article on military life in the Saturday Evening Post referred to “those who spend too much ‘happy hour’ at the bar.” Other sources—mostly from places near Naval bases in California—refer to this cocktail time as early as 1951.

It wasn’t until Prohibition that “Happy Hour” began to mean drinking alcohol [source].

People would host “cocktail hours,” also known as “happy hours,” at a speakeasy, prior to eating at alcohol-free restaurants.

“Happy Hour” became a euphemism for that time.

Following Prohibition, cocktail lounges continued the trend of drinking before dinner, and the term “Happy Hour” continued.

In the 1960s, some bars and lounges began the promotion of discounted drinks during “Happy Hours.”

These took place immediately after the standard work day, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

A buffet of nibbles—pigs in blankets, mozzarella sticks, crudités, mini pizzas, etc.—were usually served free, to accompany the drinks.

Some Happy Hours got too happy, with resulting legislation to curtail the half-price drinking and its related car accidents.

In 1984, Massachusetts was one of the first U.S. states to implement a statewide ban on happy hours. Other states followed, including Alaska, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont.

The reasons for the bans included the prevention of drunk driving, the elimination of nuisance noise to neighbors, and drunken behavior in the neighborhood.

  • In 1984, the U.S. military itself abolished happy hours at military base clubs.
  • In 2011, Pennsylvania mandated the expansion of the Happy Hour period from two hours to four hours, so customers would not down too many drinks in a short period of time.
  • Some flexibility ensued: In 2012, happy hour became legal in Kansas after a 26-year ban; and in 2015, a 25-year happy hour ban ended in Illinois.

    It may be too late for this year, but mark your calendar for next year.

  • Get a group together and head for a favorite bar or lounge.
  • If you can’t think of where, just search online for “Best Happy Hour.”
  • Or, consider inviting friends to a Happy Hour Cocktail Party. You can make it a potluck, asking each participant to bring the ingredients to prepare their favorite cocktail.
    For today, find a colleague or friend to join you after work at the nearest Happy Hour.

    And be happy, responsibly.

    While each survey differs—and preferences vary by region, age group, etc.—a 2019 survey of bartenders published on listed the 10 most popular cocktails as (in alphabetical order):

  • Aperol Spritz
  • Daiquiri
  • Dry Martini
  • Espresso Martini
  • Margarita
  • Manhattan
  • Moscow Mule
  • Negroni
  • Old Fashioned
  • Whiskey Sour



    STOCKING STUFFER: MatchDaddy Beautiful Table Matches

    We spend so much time appointing our table for guests: different porcelain plates for every course, fine linens, silver, stemware and of course, candles.

    One day as we were lighting the candles, we noticed how out of place our box of Diamond Matches was.

    So when we discovered MatchDaddy, we knew that we had not only matches for our own table, but as:

  • Stocking stuffers for people who like to entertain with flair.
  • An add in gift for people who like candles.
    Aside from the beautiful letterpress embossing on the boxes, the matches are available in three sizes: from cigarettes (2″) to candles (4″) to fireplace (8″).

    MatchDaddy imports the highest quality matches from Hungary, which are produced by the oldest automated match factory in the world.

    Top production techniques there enable a one-time strike and maximum flame, longer burn time and reduced charring (see: you can get geeky about matches).

    The only challenge is deciding which of the clever designs and vibrant colors to choose.

    From snarky sayings to George Washington, from old-fashioned watch faces to whimsical animals (butterly, donkey, elephant, fish, octopus) to cultural (marijuana plants, robots) to seasonal (pine cones),

    Take a look at the available designs. It’s a pleasure just going from page to page looking at them all.

    While mother said never to play with matches, you’ll get great aesthetic pleasure looking at these.

    So who’s your MatchDaddy?

    MatchDaddy is mainly available in fine stores, but these particular retailers also carry them online:

  • Belle And Blush
  • Bespoke Designs
  • Fancy & Staple
  • Goldfinch
  • Heartshake Studios
  • Kitson
  • Slant

    [1] Two designs in the 2019 catalog (photos © MatchDaddy).


    The first mention of matchsticks is in China, in 1270. A 1366 document describes a sulfur match: small sticks of pinewood impregnated with sulfur.

    …An ingenious man devised the system of impregnating little sticks of pinewood with sulfur and storing them ready for use. At the slightest touch of fire, they burst into flame. One gets a little flame like an ear of corn. This marvelous thing was formerly called a “light-bringing slave,” but afterward when it became an article of commerce its name was changed to “fire inch-stick” [source].

    Prior to the use of matches, fires were sometimes lit using a burning glass (a lens) to focus the sun on tinder—a method that could only work outdoors on sunny days. A more common method was striking flint and steel to produce sparks that ignited tinder.

    Many other techniques were created, that were either too expensive for most people, or too dangerously ignitable. You can read all about it here.

    The first successful friction match was invented centuries later in 1826 in England. Safety matches—using a specially designed striking surface—were developed in 1844.

    But the striking surface was not yet joined with the matches; and when it was, it was put inside with the matches!

    The development of a specialized matchbook with both matches and a striking surface on the outside of the box, the box, was created in the 1890s by an American, Joshua Pusey. He sold his patent to the Diamond Match Company—and the matchbooks are still going strong.

    Imagine life before matches (and for that matter, before electricity).

    FUN FACT: The hobby of collecting match-related items, such as matchcovers and matchbox labels, is known as phillumeny!



    This sweet potato dip has asian ingredients: rice wine vinegar and white miso. We like the fusion feature that welcomes people from beyond European cultures to Thanksgiving.

    The recipe was created for the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission by Domino Ireland of Raleigh.

    You can also thin it with oil and serve it as a salad dressing. Toss in some dried cranberries and pecans for a holiday touch.
    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings (1 Pint)

  • 1½ cups fresh sweet potatoes, cubed to 1 inch
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (substitute olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Pinch each of salt and pepper
  • ½ cup cold water
    For Dipping

  • Apple slices
  • Endive leaves
  • Triscuits or Wheat Thins (we prefer them to the bread in the photo)

    1. PLACE the sweet potatoes in a microwave-proof container and microwave on high for 7 minutes. Let cool.

    2. PLACE the sweet potatoes in a food processor, add the other ingredients and blend, adding the cold water slowly until you get a smooth consistency.

    3. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve, up to one week.


    [1] A fall-inspired sweet potato dip to serve with cocktails (photo © North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission).

    [2] It’s easy to slice apples with an apple wedger (photo © Pampered Chef).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Champagne To Pair With Thanksgiving Dinner

    [1] This turkey is actually basted with Champagne as well. Here’s the recipe from Taste of Home. It takes two cups of Champagne or other sparkling wine.

    [2] Start the dinner with bubbly, starting with the hors d’oeuvres. Here’s more from Good Food (photo © Good Food | Marina Oliphant).

    [3] A popular appetizer, Baked Brie, is delicious with Champagne. Here’s the recipe (photo © The Almond Eater).

    [4] You can glaze your ham with Champagne or other bubbly. Here’s the recipe (photo © Cooking Light | Jennifer Causey).

    Brut Champagne

    [5] Brut Champagne is the most commonly-purchased style, but it’s too dry and acidic to go well with desserts (photo © Veuve Clicquot).

    Veuve Cliquot Demi Sec Champagne
    [6] Ready for dessert? Look for a demi-sec Champagne, which has more residual sugar to match the sweetness of the dessert (photo © Veuve Clicquot).


    Some people like red wine, some people like white wine.

    But a bottle of sparkling wine can see you through an entire meal, even if that meal is Thanksgiving.

    Last week we covered red and white wine pairings: the different wines that go with each course of your Thanksgiving dinner.

    But what if you did something very elegant: serve Champagne with every course?

    Different styles of Champagne have different levels of sugar, body, and other qualities that make different styles and sweetnesses pair best with different courses.

    The Champagne Bureau USA has developed a chart (below) to show how different types of Champagne pair with each dish of the meal.

    We’ve added an explanation of the different levels of sweetness, the styles based on grapes used, and the grapes themselves.

    Consider this article to be a primer on Champagne that you can use year-round.

    Champagne is made in seven styles, or levels, of sweetness. The sweetness comes from a step in the secondary fermentation of Champagne, when the bubbles are created.

    The process is called dosage (doe-SAZH): A small amount of sugar is added into the wine bottles before they are corked. The sugar also reduces the tartness/acidity of the wine.

    This process is unique to sparkling wine (although not all sparkling wines use this technique). Don’t like geeky information? Skip these two bullets.

  • Primary Fermentation Of Champagne: In the classic méthode champenoise used to make Champagne, Cava and American sparkling wines, the primary, or alcoholic, fermentation of the wine transforms the grape must (the pressed juice of the grapes) into wine. Natural yeast consumes the natural grape sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  • Secondary Fermentation Of Champagne: To create a secondary fermentation, the dosage is added to the wine. The the added yeasts eat the added sugar, again creating alcohol and carbon dioxide.
    The Levels Of Sweetness

    Based on the amount of sugar in the dosage, the seven levels of sweetness based on residual sugar (what’s left after the secondary fermentation) are:

  • Brut Nature/Brut Zero: 0-3 g/l* residual sugar
  • Extra Brut: 0-6 g/l residual sugar
  • Brut: 0-12 g/l residual sugar
  • Extra Dry†: 12-17 g/l residual sugar
  • Dry: 17-32 g/l RS residual sugar
  • Demi-Sec: 32-50 g/l residual sugar
  • Doux: 50+ g/l residual sugar

  • Blanc de Blancs: A Blanc de Blancs Champagne is made entirely from white grapes. The vast majority will be Chardonnay, which adds acidity and structure. A Blanc de Blancs will be lighter and racier than a Blanc de Noirs, a blend of black and white grapes. Blanc de Blancs blending grapes include Arbane, Petit Meslier and Pinot Blanc.
  • Blanc de Noirs: The translation is “white wine made from black grapes. The black grapes used in Champagne are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or a blend of the two. Just as a Pinot Noir is richer than a Chardonnay, a Blanc de Noirs is richer, more aromatic and [often] more complex on the palate than a Blanc de Blancs.
  • Non-Vintage Champagne (NV): Non-Vintage Champagne is a blend of three to five harvests, blended to create a “house style” that is consistent from year to year. This is done to even out the grape qualities of different harvests. There is no year on the label, but NV is still top-quality Champagne. It’s ready to drink when released, whereas vintage Champagne needs to be laid down to evolve.
  • Prestige Cuvée. This is the house’s top-of-the-line bottling. The grapes are selected from the appellation’s best-situated vineyards and the wine is the most expensive, often with special packaging. While some prestige cuvées are also the producer’ vintage release, in some instances the “best of the best” grapes from the best vineyards are bottled into their own prestige cuvée. For example, while Pol Roger makes a non-vintage and vintage wine, they also make Cuvée Winston Churchill in the best-of-the-best vintage years. In most cases, a prestige cuvée is a premium Vintage Champagne, but a few producers do make a non-vintage prestige cuvée.
  • Rosé: Rosé Champagne is made by blending in some local red wine—between 5% and 20%. The more red wine that is used, the darker the hue of the rosé. Most Rosé Champagnes are made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
  • Vintage Champagne: The grapes are all from a single harvest, and made 100% from the year indicated on the label. To declare a vintage year, a Champagne must be aged longer before bottling. Their complexity demands that the bottles be held before drinking: a minimum of 10 years after the vintage date, in order to get the complexity of the wine. Twenty years of age is even better, and the Champagne still shows its breeding at even 50 years of age. Vintage Champagnes represent less than 5% of production

    By law, seven grape varieties can be used to make Champagne. The two major grapes are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

    Chardonnay provides acidity and structure. Pinot Noir adds elegance, perfume and body.

    Small amounts of other grapes can be used for blending, to achieve specific qualities in the Champagne. All them add a bit of complexity in their own way.
    The five permitted blending grapes are [source]:

  • Arbanne adds rusticity to the blend.
  • Fromenteau adds fruitiness, body and richness. It is closely related to Pinot Gris.
  • Petite Meslier has a greenness that some find similar to Sauvignon Blanc. It can counter excessive ripeness in hot years.
  • Pinot Blanc adds fruit, richness, and fruity and/or honey aromas.
  • Pinot Menuier adds backbone, length of the finish, tannin and fruit on the palate, and an aroma of wild berries.
    *Grams per liter.

    †It’s a paradox in the Champagne industry that “dry” indicates a sweeter wine; as do sec (which means dry in French) and demi-sec. Doux, the sweetest style of Champagne, does mean sweet.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Spain’s Great Red Grape For National Tempranillo Day

    November 8th is International Tempranillo Day—the best known grape and red wine varietal in Spain.

    Its name is the diminutive form of the Spanish word temprano, which means early.

    It was so named because the Tempranillo (temp-rah-NEE-yo) grape ripens, and is harvested, several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes.

    The wine is full-bodied, with rich aromas and predominantly cherry fruit, plus plums, figs and strawberries in older wines.

    Depending on where the grapes are grown, it has earthy flavors such as cedar, cloves, leather and tobacco.

    The wine has a medium tannic backbone and moderate acidity.

    If you like Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, you’ll like Tempranillo. It is typically aged in American oak, contributing vanilla and spicy notes (can you detect a hint of cinnamon?).

    You can get a good Crianza level—a wine aged 2 years with with 6 months in oak, for less than $20.00. A decent Tempranillo can be found in the $10 range.

    The Reserva wines (aged 3 years with 1 year in oak) and Gran Reserva wines (aged a minimum of 5 years before release with at least 18 months in oak) are more expensive.

    If the bottle doesn’t carry any of these labels, it’s meant for early consumption (i.e., drink it soon).

    Wines typically pair best with the foods of their region. But Tempranillo can easily leave Iberia and pair well foods from around the globe.

  • Anywhere: braises, charcuterie, chicken/duck/goose, game, grilled meats and poultry, mushrooms, smoked foods (including ham and smoked cheeses, chorizo and other sausages), stews, stronger fish.
  • Italy: pasta, pizza and anything with a tomato-based sauce (including calamari).
  • Morocco: tagines.
  • U.S.: barbecue, burgers, Cajun dishes (e.g. jambalaya), lamb and pork chops and roasts, polenta and other dishes made with corn, steak.
  • Mexico: burritos, chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers), chili, nachos, tacos.
    The younger wines are fruitier and pair well brats and other sausages, plus chicken wings. The California wines tend to be fruiter, and can be paired with salmon and tuna.

    If you want to crack a bottle for an apéritif or snack, serve it with classic Spanish accompaniments:

  • Serrano ham (Spain’s version of Prosciutto)
  • Manchego cheese
  • Green olives

    While many grape varietals were transported from their region of origin to other parts of the world, the Tempranillo grape is indigenous to the Rioja area of Spain.

    The wild vines of its parent grapes were cultivated some 2,000 years ago, and the locals have been wine ever since.

    Tempranillo is mostly grown in three regions* of Spain: in La Rioja plus Navarra and the Ribero del Duero district in the Burgos province in the region of Castilla y Léon.

    It is used in red wine blends from these areas, as well as in single varietal bottlings.

    Spain has 80% of the Tempranillo vineyards worldwide. In 2015, Tempranillo was the third most widely planted wine grape variety worldwide (source).

    But it is planted the world over: in Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, South America, the U.S., and a few other countries.

    *What we call regions are called autonomous communities in Spain. There are also provinces.


    [1] There are a number of Tempranillo wines made in California (photo © Wedding Oak Winery).

    [2] A cluster of Tempranillo on the vine (photo © Sergi Arjona | Dreamstime).

    [3] Filet mignon and other fine beef merits a Reserva or Gran Reserva Tempranillo (photo © Ruth’s Chris Steak House).

    Moroccan Chicken Recipe
    [4] Braised Moroccan Chicken With Green Olives. Here’s the recipe. (photo © Good Eggs).




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