Friday, February 06, 2009

Buying Beer on Sunday

While researching a story about Kansas, I came across some interesting statistics about that state’s liquor-by-the-drink laws.  It caused me to reflect on the liquor laws in the other states where I have spent time.

Kansas prohibited the sale of liquor-by-the-drink until 1987.  You could not buy a mixed drink, but there were many taverns where you could shoot pool and drink red beer (beer with tomato juice – try it, it is good) by the pitcher.  Kansas would not even let you have a mixed drink if you were flying over the state in a plane.  Airlines curtailed the sale of alcohol when in Kansas airspace.

Oklahoma was not much better when I moved here.  You had to bring your own bottle to a club, and then pay them to mix a drink for you.  If the people in the club knew you, you could get anything you wanted, a practice known as liquor-by-the-wink.  You could even get a roadie – the mixed drink of your choice in a large Styrofoam cup to tide you over on your drive home.  When Oklahomans voted to make liquor-by-the-drink legal, prices skyrocketed.  Go figure!

Nebraska has no adverse liquor laws that I know off and is one of the wildest states in which I have ever spent time.  The people there work hard, but party harder.

You would think that Texas would have the most liberal drinking laws in the country.  This is not so.  There are still dry counties, some adjacent to heavily populated areas.  Thankfully, most of the state has liquor-by-the-drink.


I grew up in northwest Louisiana.  I always enjoy visiting because you can literally “drive through” a liquor store and have a mixed drink passed out the window to you.  Driving with an open container is illegal; buying a mixed drink from the driver’s seat of your car is not.  Go figure!  The only other state where I have seen this practice is Georgia, but I do not know if this is still true.

As liberal as it may seem, Louisiana still has remnants of old laws.  In Oklahoma, you can buy 3.2 beer from a grocery store on Sunday - not so in Louisiana, at least north Louisiana, where there are still “blue laws” on the books. 

I married my second wife Anne in Park City, Utah.  The State owned all the liquor outlets at the time.  Maybe they still do.  My memory is dim on this matter, but it seems like you could only buy mini bottles.  Alcohol was strictly regulated but a recollection that remains vivid in my mind is going to the little cowboy’s room at a bar in Park City and seeing two young men snorting a line of cocaine on the cabinet.

Many other states still have archaic drinking laws and I am sure there are many interesting stories out there.  Please let me know if you have one, as I would like to retell it.  In the meantime, I think I will fix myself a Wild Turkey and water, and then go to bed.

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