Culture

Get Your Midcentury Kicks With The Happiest Hour's '50s Playlist

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It's always a party at this joint.

Many bar teams have aimed to create one-of-a-kind places that truly transport their guests to another time or place. But when Jon Neidich and Jim Kearns put their heads together in the early stages of concepting for The Happiest Hour, that wasn’t the original plan. “It didn’t quite start out like we were looking to create a 1950’s, resort-themed bar,” Jon explains. But over time, an idea began to take shape.

The team knew they wanted a place that hearkened back to that era, “when 5 o’clock marked the beginning of leisure time,” says Jon. “We wanted to make an unpretentious place where people could enjoy a drink, and that became the natural progression.” More and more research led him down a rabbit-hole. “The next thing I knew, I was neck-deep in old images of midcentury resorts,” Jon says. And once the team committed to custom palm tree wallpaper, there was no going back.

Now, nearly a year after its opening, The Happiest Hour is one of those rare bars that truly takes its guests back to another time and place—i.e., by the time you leave, you might actually think that Eisenhower is still our nation’s president. (Especially after a few rum-spiked Sugar Shacks.) Part of this is, of course, the decor: vintage maps and postcards, palm trees and flamingos, and so forth. But a big aspect — perhaps the biggest, if you ask Jon — is the soundtrack.

“I've always been really obsessive about the music in my restaurants,” Jon explains. “I spent a lot of time curating different playlists, and thinking about the different moments in the night and how it'd progress.” A night at The Happiest Hour starts with a soundtrack pulled straight from the ‘50s: everything from Roy Orbison to the Beach Boys to Sam Cooke. As the hours wane, the soundtrack shifts forward by a decade or two. “I went for music that’s very personal for me; music I’ve always liked, which is classic rock, pop, and soul from the ‘60s and ‘70s,” Jon explains. “The way I saw it was, we start off in a 1950s resort, and in the story of things, this resort would move into the '60s and '70s with the same decor but now playing the next generation's music.” Indeed, this is a man who puts a whole lot of thought into what his patrons are listening to.

So, we asked him to put together a little sampling of what an average night at The Happiest Hour might sound like. Pair it with your favorite classic cocktail or tiki creation, kick back, and hearken back to the good old days.

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