Guerrilla Happy Hour

Economists will tell you that “incentives matter.” As an economic principle you want to find the smallest incentive to achieve the greatest possible outcome. This can be mathematically modeled for large populations to determine how to encourage prosocial behaviors, but how do you apply incentives to your personal life?

Guerrilla Happy Hour has been an ongoing research project in the application of personal incentives for prosocial behavior at small scale… aka how do get your friends to show up for drinks? The answer, it turns out, is a dollar.

It started in 2011 when Alex and I went to Kask, an adventurous but expensive cocktail bar in Portland, OR. We wanted to share this place with friends but knew the high-end cocktail experience and prices would be a turn-off to many of our friends. And sadly, they had no happy hour!

August 4th, 2011

So we created one. With the launch of Guerrilla Happy Hour we invented an unauthorized happy hour and paid people a $1 for every drink they bought. A small discount, but enough of an incentive that we were able to encourage people to show up that might not have otherwise.

We found that just a $1 (given ceremonially as a $1 coin) gift for each drink, rarely totaling more than $40, was enough to encourage people to show up.

We’ve been successfully running GHH for ten years now and this is an incomplete history of the GHH project based on invitations sent:

Jan 19th, 2012
April 23rd, 2012
(non-alcoholic)
July 26th, 2012
January 19th, 2013
May 9th, 2014
November 26th, 2014
January 21st, 2016
May 19th, 2016
September 8th, 2017
February 16th, 2018
(First LA GHH)
May 3rd, 2019
March 25th, 2022