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May 8, 2019 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Yes, Buying Alcohol Is Still Illegal in Parts of the U.S.: For an estimated 18 million Americans across the country, Prohibition never ended and they’re still prohibited from buying a drink.
posted by Etrigan (123 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Lines like a map of dry counties overlaid with one of the Bible Belt, not surprisingly, shows considerable overlap would have a bit more impact if they actually showed me that map. Or linked to it. Or anything.
posted by thecjm at 10:14 AM on May 8 [7 favorites]




Spoiler: Nobody has this problem in Wisconsin.
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:16 AM on May 8 [9 favorites]


Arkansas still has a bunch of dry counties--most, but not all, allow 'private clubs' to sell alcohol. As you might guess, the history of private clubs is not entirely rose-colored.

In 2014, there was an ballot measure to legalize alcohol sales statewide--it didn't win (but two counties voted, in county elections, to go wet).
posted by box at 10:20 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Spoiler: Nobody has this problem in Wisconsin.

The funny thing there is that while alcohol licensing is generally fairly liberal in Wisconsin, there are still limited hours for purchasing booze from retail establishments (gas stations, grocery stores, etc.). It's generally not possible to buy wine or liquor after 9pm unless you're in a tavern or a location licensed as a tavern (ie, a restaurant that also has a bar). Basically, if you want to buy a drink in Wisconsin after 9pm, you have to go talk to someone.

While this is clearly problematic for driving, I think it may be helpful in terms of the general psyche of those looking for a drink in Wisconsin. Especially if they use a cab or Uber.

This is far less bizarre than the time I spent in Philadelphia, where figuring out liquor laws was a sport.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 10:25 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


I grew up in a suburb of Dallas, TX and it was a dry county. You'd have to drive about 15 minutes out of your way to find that line where it was no longer dry and the moment you did there was a line of liquor stores waiting for you.

I now live in Ontario, Canada and while it's not dry, it is weird with what stores are allowed to sell beer/liquor and what stores aren't. It's only recently been a thing where we can pick up alcohol at a grocery store, up until the last year or two you had to go to a specific government run store (Beer Store, LCBO).

Like it shouldn't be this difficult to buy alcohol. Blurgh.
posted by Fizz at 10:26 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


There were two dry municipalities here next to Pittsburgh until two or three years ago when they both voted to repeal it. So far civilization hasn't collapsed in either town.
posted by octothorpe at 10:26 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]


PA has some of the silliest booze laws I’ve seen, in part due to a complicated history of dryness and moistness.

Most any restaurant can sell you a 6 pack of beer to go.

But normal ‘bottle shops’ have Byzantine restrictions on how much you can buy, requiring large complicated posters showing various combinations of single bottles, tall boys etc. You can’t buy beer at the grocery store, except for a few cases in which the grocery store sets up a ‘food place’ inside, has a separate set of cash registers, and everyone pretends it’s an ENTIRELY different store!

You can buy several cases of beer from a ‘distributor’ (now just another retail outlet), but all hard liquor is owned by the state, making the Commonwealth one of the largest buyers of liquor in the world.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:28 AM on May 8 [16 favorites]


I can't help wondering... are there any places where it is illegal to buy alcohol but legal to buy weed?
posted by Gamecat at 10:29 AM on May 8 [7 favorites]


It's funny watching California re-experience this history of patchwork prohibition with marijuana legalization. Possession and use is legal state-wide (I think?) But sales and commercial growing operations, both medical and recreational, are up to each county to decide. Unsurprisingly most rural counties have gone very slowly in legalizing. Even here in Nevada County, where I live, which has had a substantial illegal marijuana business for 30+ years. No one was in a hurry to legalize, although about a year ago it started loosening up some.

Meanwhile Eaze blows a hole right through all this, since Eaze is a marijuana delivery service. The state has basically ruled it's allowed state-wide and the counties get no say. In turn the counties are suing. It's a mess.

(Another funny contrast is in Oregon. Liquor stores are state owned in Oregon and notoriously scarce and not particularly good. But marijuana stores are very widely allowed. In most of Portland you'll typically have 5 weed shops in walking distance but only one liquor store.)
posted by Nelson at 10:34 AM on May 8 [6 favorites]


In its own way Delaware has some of the simplest alcohol laws I've ever encountered. You buy alcohol in a liquor store. That's it. You want beer? Go to a liquor store. You want wine? Go to a liquor store. You want liquor? Go to a liquor store.
posted by Automocar at 10:37 AM on May 8 [6 favorites]


Alcohol laws are weird in America.

As a kid visiting family in West Virginia, we ate at a restaurant where my cousin worked as a waitress. Called the County Line Pub (guess why); food service was on the dry county side and alcohol sales were in the wet county.

Visiting southern Utah in the early 2000s, we visited a "club" one afternoon. No alcohol could be sold to the public, but you could become a member, provided another member sponsored you. We walked in and signed a register to "apply" for membership, and then the bartender called out, "Do we have a sponsor?" A dude at the bar raised his hand; she passed him two preprinted paper cards, he signed them and passed them to us, and we presented them and bought drinks.

Also, some states consider NA drinks to be alcohol and others don't. As a 14 yo hs student (Ohio, which changed its consumption law from 18/21 for 3.2% vs 6% to 21 for everything when I was 17 1/2), I was kicked out of a youth group for taking a sip of NA beer that a group leader offered me. You also used to could buy cough syrup containing alcohol, irrespective of your age, although I think now it might be age-controlled. But it might be age controlled for the dextromethorphan.

Finally, in Ohio you can buy beer and wine in the supermarket, but liquor is only sold in the "state store," and bottles have a little paper seal that shows you paid the state tax. It must be a lot, bc if you live in Cincinnati, the biggest sport is driving to giant liquor stores just across the Ohio River in northern Kentucky and buying liquor there, then going to lunch *or something* to shed the tail of Ohio cops who sit in Kentucky liquor store parking lots waiting to tail "bootleggers" home across the bridge and bust them on the Ohio side.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:44 AM on May 8 [8 favorites]


Liquor laws really should not be this complicated. When I was traveling more for work, I'd usually try to find beer for the hotel room and it was always a chore. Usually "Can I go to the grocery store for beer?" was the hardest question, but the answers ranged all over the place:

-Any establishment listed as "liquor store" will have beer
-Only ABC (state controlled) store will have beer
-Any liquor store other than ABC will have beer
-The "beer shop" next to the liquor store will have beer, which is really the same store with a partition down the middle
-Grocery store will have beer
-Grocery store also owns a liquor shop next door, and beer can be had in either establishment
-Grocery store owns the liquor shop next door, but the liquor shop will not have beer because they want you to go to the grocery store
-Grocery store has near beer, liquor store has the good stuff
-Gas station has beer
-Wal-Mart has beer
-CVS has beer
-Applebee's is the only establishment that has any kind of liquor at all (thanks, Texas!)
-Base Exchange has beer, but nowhere in town does
-There is no beer
posted by backseatpilot at 10:46 AM on May 8 [25 favorites]


shed the tail of Ohio cops...

I’m not gonna say that’s never happened, or maybe you were joking? But I am pretty dang sure it’s not a thing anyone in Cinci is ever afraid of in 2019. The Party Source in KY is the size of a Walmart full of hard liquor and on any given Saturday afternoon it has about 200 cars with OH plates in the parking lot.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:51 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


The first time I saw someone in a restaurant take a half-finished bottle of wine home with them (in WV of all places) it was a shock. I'd lived in places with state-controlled liquor stores and places you could purchase anywhere. But where I live is very anti-public consumption so seeing someone just pick up their bottle and leave like it was normal was something i didn't even know was an option
posted by thecjm at 10:53 AM on May 8


Pretty sure MA legalized gay marriage before they legalized buying alcohol on Sunday.

(Except towns within X miles of the NH border, they got the ability to send alcohol earlier.)
posted by davros42 at 10:54 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


PA has some of the silliest booze laws I’ve seen

Oh, yeah. And a pretty good example of how these laws are not at all set up to encourage moderation or healthy consumption.

A while back, a boyfriend and I were in rural PA for a wedding and we wanted a few beers for the hotel room. The only option was for us to trundle down the road a ways to a distribution center, where, for some reason, the thing that made the most sense was a 24-pack. We had only the weekend in PA before going back to NYC on a train, so we were pounding as many beers as we could so we wouldn't have to haul the leftovers back in our luggage (being young and broke and sensible, we were not about to leave the extras behind). I have to say, it was pretty unhealthy drinking behavior--thanks, Pennsylvania!
posted by witchen at 10:56 AM on May 8 [12 favorites]


I'm not in favor of prohibition, but in general alcohol should be way more heavily taxed and regulated in the United States.

"..the alcohol-related death count is ... considerable, on the order of 75,000 to 100,000. Most of these drinking deaths are the result of injury, taking a heavy toll on children and young adults. And unlike most smoking deaths, a sizable share of the drinking deaths involve innocent bystanders—victims of drunk drivers, victims of arguments transformed into deadly assaults due to intoxication, victims who are children abused or neglected by alcoholic parents."

...a majority of adults either don’t drink at all or drink less than once per month, while the heavy drinkers at the top 10 percent of the distribution account for the bulk of sales and consumption. Greatly over-represented among those heavy drinkers are young adults under age thirty, and especially those of the male persuasion."

"on average each year about 183,000 (37%) rapes and sexual assaults involve alcohol use by the offender, as do just over 197,000 (15%) robberies, about 661,000 (27%) aggravated assaults, and nearly 1.7 (25%) million simple assaults."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:57 AM on May 8 [12 favorites]


Pennsylvania beer distributors are... unique. Since it's a category of business that really doesn't exist anywhere else—lots of states have "beer distributors", but usually they are actual B2B distributors, not retail establishments—there's not exactly a hard model of what one should look like. The results are varied and sometimes entertaining.

I know of at least two that are co-located with car washes.

Like, you bring your car in and while it's going through the wash tunnel you can peruse the beer selection, pick out a case or two, and when you're all done the attendants will put it in the trunk of your (now squeaky clean) car. And for people who grew up in the town where this establishment was located, this was presumably entirely normal and sensible and it's the rest of the world that's unenlightened and backwards, with their beer-less carwashes.

In fairness, it kinda makes sense because when you're buying beer by the case (or multiple cases), you don't need to go that often, which roughly corresponds to the frequency you'd want to get the salt rinsed off your car in Western PA.

The real downside to PA's system, which heavily encourages case purchases, is that it seems to lead to very conservative selections of beer. You can't break or mix cases, so you can't just grab a couple sixers of this or that, you have to commit to the entire case—or else you have to go to a six-pack shop where you can only buy 1 (at least it used to be one, maybe two now?) six-pack per transaction, and many of the six-pack shops' selection isn't great either. So a lot of people's fridges trend towards beer monocultures.

OTOH, they can get Yuengling Premium.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:58 AM on May 8 [7 favorites]


You can’t buy beer at the grocery store, except for a few cases in which the grocery store sets up a ‘food place’ inside, has a separate set of cash registers, and everyone pretends it’s an ENTIRELY different store!

The most amusing thing is that those embedded beer stores in the grocery stores are legally classified as taverns by the state and they have to have a few tables and chairs set up and you are allowed to sit in the supermarket and drink your beer.
posted by octothorpe at 10:58 AM on May 8 [12 favorites]


Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooisssssssssssss-tuh.
posted by WCityMike at 10:58 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]


I can't help wondering... are there any places where it is illegal to buy alcohol but legal to buy weed?

Cannabis sales bans is the new prohibition in places like Massachusetts, where over 200 cities and towns (out of 351) have enacted bans on pot sales. Meanwhile the state still has a few "dry" towns that have continued to ban alcohol, which include Alford, Dunstable, Chilmark, Gosnold, Hawley, Montgomery, and Mount Washington. Of those dry towns, only Mount Washington has passed a cannabis ban. Ergo, in Alford, Dunstable, Chilmark, Gosnold, Hawley, and Montgomery you can't buy alcohol but you could open up a cannabis store. Most likely in those places it would be the only store in town.
posted by beagle at 10:59 AM on May 8 [11 favorites]


I can't help wondering... are there any places where it is illegal to buy alcohol but legal to buy weed?

I haven't been back since medical marijuana was legalized, but I wouldn't be surprised if the dry village I grew up in Ohio has or is getting a dispensary soon, since anecdotally the soil around there isn't good for growing much else.
posted by Copronymus at 11:00 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


It must be a lot, bc if you live in Cincinnati, the biggest sport is driving to giant liquor stores just across the Ohio River in northern Kentucky and buying liquor there, then going to lunch *or something* to shed the tail of Ohio cops who sit in Kentucky liquor store parking lots waiting to tail "bootleggers" home across the bridge and bust them on the Ohio side.

As someone who lives in the Northern KY/Cincy area, I have to call bullshit on this one - specifically the part about Ohio cops camping out in KY liquor store parking lots.
posted by bwvol at 11:00 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]


Thanks, beagle - it's enough just to know there is such a place, never mind to have an actual list. Lovely :)
posted by Gamecat at 11:02 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I am in Oklahoma and live just over the county line from one of the counties that went wet last fall. The thing is - i never knew it was dry. There were always liquor stores and you could buy beer at the quick shop and beer at the pizza joint - just nothing over 3.2. I didn't read the whole article, but Oklahoma changing the liquor laws in 2016 (changes effective oct 2018) is what forced the hand of these counties. Because the new laws effectively get rid of the 3.2 stuff, the counties really would become dry because they couldn't sell the new higher point beer and in order to keep their liquor stores etc they had to upgrade.

Another anecdote - my husband lived in a dry county in the texas panhandle when we were dating. A real one with no liquor stores. However there were bottle clubs you could be a member of or i could buy a 3 dollar weekend membership to that were just like any other nightclub we went to anywhere else, with the exception they closed at 12 on fridays. So guess what happened at 12 every friday? A line of cars full of people who had been drinking headed 7 miles north to the cluster of dive bars in the oklahoma panhandle.
posted by domino at 11:11 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]


But I am pretty dang sure it’s not a thing anyone in Cinci is ever afraid of. The Party Source in KY is the size of a Walmart full of hard liquor and on any given Saturday afternoon it has about 200 cars with OH plates in the parking lot.

Cincy local here. My friends and I are more into beer than the hard stuff, but my understanding of Party Source has always been that their clientele is far less concerned with evading sales tax than with selection and one-stop shopping. There's a couple of similar superstores on the Ohio side of the state line (notably the world-famous Jungle Jim's) that get a similar amount of business, and it's mostly due to the sheer variety of high-end and hard-to-find imbibibles that they sell, not so much the price.

It's possible that there's a few aging moonshiners out here who get a thrill out of re-enacting their old bootlegging days while out on a day trip to the Newport Aquarium, but I've never encountered it in real life.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:14 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


... Prohibition never ended and they’re still prohibited from buying a drink ...

Let me guess ... these are the parts of the country with all the "small government" and "religious freedom" people.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:16 AM on May 8 [14 favorites]


Cannabis sales bans is the new prohibition in places like Massachusetts, where over 200 cities and towns (out of 351) have enacted bans on pot sales.

What's the antonym for dank? (“fresh towns”? “bland towns”?)
posted by acb at 11:20 AM on May 8 [10 favorites]


I grew up in Alabama and well into the 90s at least, there were laws about being seen in public with liquor/beer. You could buy beer at the grocery store but it had to be bagged in a brown bag. And if you were sitting on your porch drinking a beer, it had to be in a cup, not just out of the can. I mean, unless you were in the fraternity on College St. Then you could drink as much as you wanted and throw the bottles and cans out on the front lawn for the pledges to take care of in the morning.
posted by dawkins_7 at 11:20 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


I lived in Pennsylvania from 21 to 26 and never understood out how the liquor laws worked. (I didn't need to; I knew where to buy things and never figured out why it was that way.)

Then I moved to California and for the first few weeks would grab a six-pack or a bottle of wine at every opportunity just because I could. Then I looked around and realized that I was buying more than I was drinking. Then I married a sommelier. So we still have this problem but now we buy more expensive wine and we call this buying too much "aging".

We got married in her hometown in one of those dry counties in Arkansas. We stopped at a liquor store somewhere on the way from DFW Airport in case anybody wanted some beer, then in the confusion of the wedding we forgot we had bought it. So on our way out of town we dropped a couple cases off with one of the bridesmaids. We then flew to Prague, where we were dehydrated the whole time because beer is cheaper than water there. (I think somewhere in that trip there was a drive out to the drive-thru liquor store on the Oklahoma line, although that might have been a different visit.)

Then we moved to Georgia. Here the most notable quirk of alcohol law is that you can't buy in stores or be served in restaurants until 12:30 on Sundays, presumably because Jesus isn't cool with drinking. (But then how do you explain the turning water into wine thing?) The bar/restaurant down the street from our church has "clergy parking" spots marked. The sommelier that I married is also now an ordained minister. It's kind of annoying to not be able to get served when we literally just came from church.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:24 AM on May 8 [9 favorites]


in general alcohol should be way more heavily taxed and regulated in the United States.

I get where you're coming from, but deciding on the optimal level of tax isn't exactly straightforward. At a certain point, a high enough tax is indistinguishable from prohibition, and we know how that worked out.

Right now, we're seeing a parallel to this in places that have technically legalized and taxed cannabis, but set the tax rates so high that it's greater than the "risk premium" on producing and distributing it illegally. And that's with the full weight of the DEA and decades of militarized War On Drugs infrastructure out there, aiming to do nothing but increase the risk premium.

It's not like you can just increase excise taxes on something and magically get 100% compliance. There's a gradient of compliance based on how high the tax is, and how easy avoidance is. And to balance that out, there's also the cost of enforcement—which can create more compliance, but has its own costs as well.

You pretty quickly get to what I like to call the "Moff Tarkin Inflection Point", where the more you squeeze your grip via taxation on the population, the more revenue slips through your fingers. Perhaps taxes on alcohol could be higher before reaching this, but I'm not entirely sure; Repeal in the US was done with a great deal of reluctance in many places, with some extremely high tax regimes here and there. Most states are quite dependent on liquor excise taxes as revenue and are probably aiming for the revenue-maximization point already.

And bear in mind that alcohol is trivial to manufacture. Good alcohol is harder, but for ten bucks at Aldi and a Home Depot bucket, I can make you something in a week that'll get you pissed drunk. (Technically it'd be wine, I guess? Very technically. If you're willing to spend $30 and go to Whole Foods, you could have a much more palatable cider.) Add on a trip to a plumbing supplies store and you can have pretty passable vodka. It's fairly hard to prohibit something when the hardest part of the manufacturing process is done by microorganisms that are literally everywhere in the environment. Cannabis prohibition, by contrast, is child's play—a really concerted effort could probably exterminate cannabis as an entire genus, make it extinct on the planet, and there would be no more cannabis. Nothing short of a dinosaur-killing asteroid is going to wipe out yeast, to say nothing of the other uses to which yeast is put.

So, there's a maximum limit on the tax rate that's defined by the cost and difficulty of black-market manufacture (low and minimal) plus the risk premium (currently low, not a lot of Revenue Agents running around chasing moonshiners these days). You can increase the risk premium through aggressive enforcement—bring back those Revenuers—but that carries its own costs, both direct (the War on Drugs was not inexpensive) and indirect (empowering criminal organizations by giving them a huge revenue source is... not great; bootleggers generally don't care about selling to underage people; general corrosiveness of making a lot of people criminals for what they see as an innocuous act).

Bluntly: you can't just use tax rates as a cudgel to stop people from doing something that they really want to do, and people—generally speaking—really like alcohol. I think the solution is to tax alcohol at a rate that keeps black-market production minimal, and cycle the tax revenue directly into harm reduction, which includes demand reduction through education and other regulatory activities. E.g. people are a lot less likely to be supportive of draconian liquor taxes, but getting support for fairly draconian drunk-driving laws is pretty easy. And drunk driving laws and campaigns have probably done more to curtail weeknight drinking than anything else I can think of. (When I've lived in places where I didn't have to drive home at night, I'll freely admit that happy hour was a lot more, uh, happy.)

Anyway, it's tempting to think that we can just pull a single regulatory lever and solve a obvious social problem, but that's exactly what Prohibition tried to do, and it turns out that complex social problems aren't amenable to easy solutions.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:27 AM on May 8 [24 favorites]


I now live in Ontario, Canada and while it's not dry, it is weird with what stores are allowed to sell beer/liquor and what stores aren't. It's only recently been a thing where we can pick up alcohol at a grocery store, up until the last year or two you had to go to a specific government run store

I'm out in the wild west, where Alberta privatized liquor sales back in 1993; according to this story to mark the 20th anniversary of that, the province has gone from 208 government run stores to over 2000; product selection has grown from 2,200 products to over 19,000; and the effects on pricing are ?????. Most interesting thing is that while there are a bunch of stores, there are a handful of independents and then a bunch of conglomerates that operate multiple locations (is there really more choice?). I did live for a time in a part of Alberta that is probably as close as we have to a "dry county"; liquor was largely frowned upon, to the point the town of 3,000 or so had only one liquor store and one licensed restaurant - and eating there could get you on some people's shit list.

We've taken a pretty similar approach to legal cannabis too; we currently have the most stores in the country and lead the way on sales, in part because of the number of stores. I went to one for the first time last week; it was jumping on a Friday afternoon and the guy up front only had a couple of minutes to spend with my bemused newbish self answering some questions before he had to hustle off to greet & direct other customers (that being said, the store itself kind of reminded me of the days before liquor privatization - an area for the customers to make a selection, which then gets written down and handed off to someone in the back who fills it and then passes the product out from a locked room).

The long and short of it is that I find going to other provinces and trying to buy liquor often weird; I've gotten very used to just popping in at a liquor store and getting whatever I need. And I can see a similar immediate issue with cannabis sales; even without being a big consumer, I've gotten used to seeing cannabis stores readily accessible, but if I were to go into BC, for example, I better bring my own supply, man.

I don't know if I have any point here, other than I think it reflects one of the weird mixes of Alberta - a desire to encourage privatization and entrepreneurship overtaking the more socially conservative elements that object to the product being sold. Now if we could find a way to privatize gay-straight alliances...
posted by nubs at 11:30 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]


I'm not in favor of prohibition, but in general alcohol should be way more heavily taxed and regulated in the United States.

Places that want to limit the sale of alcohol to dining establishments or bars, while at the same time are small enough to not having any sort of transit options other than driving yourself around, are practically telling their citizens to drive drunk.

That said, bar culture anywhere that doesn't have buses or high walkability seriously weirds me out.

I really don't know how people who don't live in cities aren't just DUI'ing all of the time.
posted by thecjm at 11:33 AM on May 8 [6 favorites]


"The first time I saw someone in a restaurant take a half-finished bottle of wine home with them (in WV of all places) it was a shock."

I was shocked in Washington state to find out that we couldn't take an already-paid-for but unopened bottle of champagne out of a restaurant/nightclub after a baby baptism party. Very quickly it was established that we had more large, angry Montanan's than they had bouncers, so everyone agreed that no one would see a bottle stashed under a coat.

When you grow up in a state with fairly lax booze laws and a drinking culture you don't even think there could be differences.
posted by ITravelMontana at 11:48 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


(Except towns within X miles of the NH border, they got the ability to send alcohol earlier.)

Which I could never figure out. The town next to the border complained that they were losing business, so they got an exemption. Then the town next to that town complained that they were losing business ...
posted by Melismata at 11:49 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


When you grow up in a state with fairly lax booze laws and a drinking culture you don't even think there could be differences.

My most distinct memory of my Army officer basic training 25 years ago is blurting out "Indiana still has blue laws?!?" in a supermarket.
posted by Etrigan at 11:52 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


My Pennsylvania relatives laughed and took a picture when they saw the wine on sale in CVS in San Francisco. They call a liquor store a "New Jersey gift shop" since all you do is drive across the river and it's legal.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:55 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


I grew up in a dry county in Tennessee and was accustomed to the bizarre Byzantine liquor laws that come with it. Even in damp or wet counties, you couldn't sell alcohol within a certain number of yards from a church or school. And don't even think about buying booze on Sunday, a national holiday, or after midnight.

Imagine my shock and giddy dismay when I moved to St. Louis and was offered a sample of vodka from a sales lady in the grocery store at 9 in the morning on a Sunday. On a SUNDAY!!! And then, when a favorite restaurant offered us to-go cups for our beer because they knew we were walking. And then, when we bought a house down the street from a Catholic school with a convent attached and the nuns stopped us while we were walking the dog to ask if we were coming to the fish fry on Friday. Cause they had 2 for 1s on Bud Light. And the nun had a little red wagon of beer that she was shuttling to the church from Costco to SELL IN A CHURCH.

Even here on the other side of the state in Kansas City, Missouri wins hands down on liquor laws that actually make sense. Grocery stores, convenient stores, the Walgreens, and whoever else can sell booze any day of the week. Open containers aren't a drama in most places and you can always take your bottle home from most restaurants. It's a magical paradise and I find it amusing that only after moving to the state of Booze did I drastically reduce my consumption of alcohol. For some reason, having booze everywhere means I don't feel it's all that special. I mean, when you can drink at the zoo, the shiny wears off a bit.
posted by teleri025 at 11:58 AM on May 8 [17 favorites]


One key ingredient to transparent soap making is Everclear grain alcohol. When I made it 10 years ago, I was able to buy it online, and had to stay home to sign for it (I couldn't just sign the UPS card). When I made it again two years ago, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to buy it online (the previous site said that "due to changing regulations," they didn't sell it anymore). So I looked to see which states sold it in retail stores. Only two, as it turns out! Texas, and Rhode Island. * Only an hour away from my home in MA.

* but in RI it's completely illegal to sell raw milk even on a farm, so that cancels out the Everclear, oh well.
posted by Melismata at 12:04 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


To those eager to point out that I AM LYING NOBODY IN CINCINNATI WORRIES ABOUT LIQUOR TAX COPS, please note that I also acknowledged in my comment that I am 1,000 years old, based on the fact that the Ohio drinking age changed when I was in high school.
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:13 PM on May 8 [11 favorites]


I've noticed a somewhat amusing phenomenon, which is that people tend to think of the laws where they grew up, or where they lived the longest, as the normal baseline, and everything else is weird.

I mean, everything thinks this about everything, but it seems especially pronounced for booze law.

The main variables I've seen are:

- What grocers can sell (nothing / beer / wine)
- Liquor store system
- Retail availability of beer / wine / liquor (hours / days)
- Restaurant / bar rules (hours / days)

Mississippi, late 80s

Grocers (incl. gas stations): Beer only. No beer sold on Sunday.

Liquor Stores: One tier of store. Only source for wine and hard liquor. Closed on Sundays.

Restaurants / Bars: No booze sold on Sundays. Bars closed at midnight, and all day Sunday.

No booze sales on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, or New Year's Day.

I think the only part of this that's changed now is that restaurants & bars can sell on Sunday.

Tuscaloosa, AL, early 90s

Grocers: Beer & Wine. Some restriction on hours (not too late or something). I don't remember if they could sell on Sunday.

Liquor stores: Complicated two-tier arrangement with state-run ABC stores and private stores. Private ones were buying their inventory from the state at basically the same price as you'd see in the state store, so buying at a private store was MUCH more expensive -- but there were more of them, and they were open later. No retail sales of hard booze on Sunday.

Restaurants / Bars: No booze sold on Sundays at all, initially. While I was there this got changed.

Houston, TX, mid-90s to now

Grocers: Sell beer & wine 7am-midnight, every day, except Sunday when they can't start until noon.

Liquor stores: One tier of privately owned stores. Open 10am to 9pm daily except Sunday, when they're closed.

Restaurants / Bars: 7am-2am daily except Sunday (noon to 2am Monday). There's a Brunch Exception, though, for pre-noon Bloodys on Sunday.

The weirdest combo I ever saw was in Louisville, where grocers couldn't sell wine, but the fucking Walgreens had bourbon. I assume this is a hangover from prohibition & the "medicinal use" exception.

Oddly, Houston itself has a dry-ish zone called the Heights where you must be a member of the club to drink. This involves filling out a minimal form and being issued a handwritten card by your server.
-Applebee's is the only establishment that has any kind of liquor at all (thanks, Texas!)
WTF???
I really don't know how people who don't live in cities aren't just DUI'ing all of the time.
Well, I mean, they ARE.

My assumption is that in big places without great mass transit OR great taxi cultures, Uber & Lyft have had measurably reduced DUI rates. We take an Uber a lot, candidly, if we think we'll drink. Before, we just drank less and risked it, because taxis in Houston may or may not show up.
posted by uberchet at 12:25 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


I really don't know how people who don't live in cities aren't just DUI'ing all of the time

They are. There are studies out there showing that when Uber rolled out somewhere, DUI rates go down. This is clearly a good effect of Uber... and yes, I know it has bad effects. The effect of ride-hailing on society as a whole is... complicated.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:36 PM on May 8 [5 favorites]


So I looked to see which states sold it in retail stores. Only two, as it turns out! Texas, and Rhode Island.

That’s only for the 195 proof stuff. The 151 proof Everclear is available in many states. So stupid, especially since the 151 proof is still dangerous when people drink it yet the 195 is useful for people who are using it for its chemical properties unrelated to drinking (such as your soap making). Also bugs me that people using it for benign, non-intoxication purposes still have to pay the alcohol taxes.
posted by D.C. at 12:36 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Let me guess ... these are the parts of the country with all the "small government" and "religious freedom" people.
If there is a correllation it is an accident of history. These are the parts of the country that still remember the original progressive movement and still fight that increasingly ancient but increasingly relevant battle.

In the old days before prohibition, the American beverage industry really was basically Satan incarnate. They drove up grain prices on the poor, drove an epidemic of alcoholism that at the time may have been unparalleled in human history, and fed horrific cycles of abuse and poverty. When you bought a bottle or a glass of an alcoholic beverage, what you were doing was giving money to people whose real product was human misery, and that hasn't really changed so much today.

Today, according to NESARC data, the top decile of drinkers in America consume the equivalent of four and a half bottles of hard alcohol per week, which would seem alarming enough considering how extreme that is. However, those drinkers represent well more than half of all alcohol sales, which means that, while most consumers have a 'healthier' relationship with alcohol, most revenue comes from people who unambiguously don’t. Indeed, if that top decile of drinkers were to simply cut back to join the still pretty heavy drinking 9th decile, then alcohol sales would drop by 60%.

So, sure, go ahead and look down on these people whose religion, accent, and way of life might be different from yours, but there the only ones left making any effort to really stick it to these fuckers.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:36 PM on May 8 [10 favorites]


Applebee's is the only establishment that has any kind of liquor at all (thanks, Texas!)

I remember this being the case in...Pearland? Sugar Land? Some little place around Houston, in the early '00s. It may just be it was the only place open that served liquor.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:38 PM on May 8


I took a job in Arkansas one summer as a college student living in Maryland. I was confused and unhappy when I got there and learned it was a dry county. No one had happened to mention that! I had to drive into Little Rock, the closest city, and it was legal to buy within city limits (something along those lines). Wet city in a dry county. WTF?

There had been too much water to work the rice fields where we were doing research so they shipped me to Louisiana. There was a drive-through daiquiri hut there that would hand me a big, strong frozen drink with a straw in it and bars that only closed for one hour a day. Again, I was like WTF these places are side by side!

Gave me some good stories to tell when I went back north. But damn it was so stupid.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 12:38 PM on May 8 [6 favorites]


I lived in Pennsylvania from 21 to 26 and never understood out how the liquor laws worked.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize you didn't mean from 1921 to 1926 and I was very excited to see such a historically significant comment.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:40 PM on May 8 [19 favorites]


> I've noticed a somewhat amusing phenomenon, which is that people tend to think of the laws where they grew up, or where they lived the longest, as the normal baseline, and everything else is weird.

I've spent most of my life in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and those states both struck me as having nonsensical laws, even while I lived there. Pennsylvania's weirdsies are pretty well outlined already in the thread (basically: severe and arbitrary restrictions lead to making it much easier and more convenient to buy too much beer rather than exactly the amount you wanted to drink). Michigan hosts towns with nonsensical restrictions like a limit on the number of liquor licenses permitted, so when a restaurant wants to serve alcohol, they have to bid for one of the few existing licenses that might be available, and they're passed hand-to-hand in private sales with prices high enough to require their own mortgages (and ever-escalating if the town's population is growing). And you can risk losing the license you'd sunk a lot of cash into if it turns out your establishment is accidentally too close to a church or school, or some random citizen doesn't like you and successfully petitions against you serving booze.
posted by ardgedee at 12:56 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I remember this being the case in...Pearland? Sugar Land? Some little place around Houston, in the early '00s. It may just be it was the only place open that served liquor.
All those places are part of metro Houston.

In Pearland, you can't buy packaged liquor, but beer & wine are okay and the restaurant/bar landscape is normal.

Sugarland's laws mirror Houston's, so there's nothing odd about it.

The tl;dr is that if the only place with booze in either Pearland or Sugarland was an Applebee's, you weren't looking very hard.
posted by uberchet at 1:04 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Houston also has seen a bunch of those drive thru daquiri places crop up after all the transplants from NO came after Hurricane Katrina.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:08 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


I grew up in the middle of the only dry zone in Melbourne. As a kid, it felt very safe. There wasn't really anywhere near where I lived where I was ever afraid to ride my bike at any time of day or night, and the only random violence I ever encountered came from school bullies my own age who already knew me.

On balance I still think dry zones are a good thing and that every large city should have at least one. They're good places to raise kids in.
posted by flabdablet at 1:16 PM on May 8


Conversely, from the linked article:

Studies also suggest, paradoxically, that dry counties may actually be more troubled by drunk driving. The reason isn’t all that hard to figure out: those who choose to patronize a bar will have to drive longer distances to cross a county line. (Other studies have found that many liquor stores set up just over the county line for convenience to the drys.) A 1997 study in Texas, found the rate of fatalities in drunk-driving accidents was three times higher in dry counties than in wet.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:26 PM on May 8 [4 favorites]


It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize you didn't mean from 1921 to 1926 and I was very excited to see such a historically significant comment.

Actually I meant that I lived there from 2021 to 2026.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:27 PM on May 8 [9 favorites]


Houston also has seen a bunch of those drive thru daquiri places crop up after all the transplants from NO came after Hurricane Katrina.
A friend of mine was on the board of Planned Parenthood SE Texas after Katrina, and my understanding is that between NO folks moving here and the organizational struggles of post-K New Orleans, there was something of a merger of regions or whatever. In any case, her board meetings started including lots of board members from New Orleans.

Then as now, Houston nonprofit board meetings were typically in someone's (nice) home, and featured wine and cheese. This had to change, though, because A. found that the Louisiana expats expected liquor. LOL.

On brand, though.
posted by uberchet at 1:40 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


When I move to the east coast just outside Boston I discovered I lived in a 'dry' town but I'd actually never live walking distance to a package store before. Not much of a drinker anyway but... amuse.
posted by sammyo at 2:14 PM on May 8


Another Cincinnatian here totally familiar with the Party Source and Jungle Jims. Ohio's problem is the the state is the distributor for all hard spirits and their selection is not especially great (where by not great I mean not really good at all). If you want Jack Daniels they've got you covered, but if you want something like that one weird green French liqueur you are totally out of luck. As some have said that's why Cincinnatians go across the river to the Party Source (+ Kentucky taxes alcohol much less).

One upside, I guess, is that every several years the state de-lists slow moving spirits and heavily discount them

The other Ohio thing is that, although there are state laws, there are also local laws. I live in a township just north of the city and the liquor laws (especially for Sunday sales) are voting precinct specific. In my precinct Lu-Lu's Tap Room had a ballot initiative one year to stay open late on Sunday (that passed). Another year the local State store (maybe 100 yards away from Lu Lus) asked for a Sunday license (that failed). Another precinct actually had an initiative to ban all alcohol sales. So in my one township there are places that stay open late on Sunday, places that are closed on Sunday and in a tiny sliver of the township a place where you cant buy alcohol ever.
posted by codex99 at 2:15 PM on May 8


Other than having a maddeningly patchwork system of county-level restrictions (and no state needs as many counties as Kentucky has), Kentucky has frustrating and weird laws about homebrew. Brewing beer is fine. Drinking homebrewed beer at a private event is fine. You can drink homebrewed beer at a public event as long as it's for purposes of judging a competition (as a result, every meeting of the LAGERS now has a pro-forma "competition" as part of our share-out). Giving homebrew away is fine, but selling homebrew is not, no matter how many permits you get.

The last of these makes the above-mentioned club's annual charity event (where we brew beer and then sell it) far more complicated than it needs to be. A sympathetic brewery permits brewers to pitch their yeast on premises (most brew on-premises too, but on occasion those without portable brew rigs have brought buckets o'wort from home), at which point it's legally "manufactured" by the brewery. There's some sort of complicated dodge in which it has to be sold to a distributor, though, even though it's sold on the premises, and I think somewhere in this process the brewery ends up selling the beer to itself, or something.
posted by jackbishop at 2:26 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


One weird situation in Louisiana is that children aren't allowed in bars by law, but they are allowed in brewery tap rooms.

This means that breweries are frequently filled with children and many purposely cater to families. At least one in New Orleans has a bounce house on weekends. To be clear, they also have high proof beer by the pint with no requirement to participate in a tour or tasting, so they're effectively beer bars.

On another note, I'd be curious also how the end of 3.2 beer in Oklahoma affected public health. Last time I was in that state it seemed like there were no frills corner 3.2-only bars where older men slammed down cheap low proof beer, and now it looks like some of those bars have gentrified and probably priced out their old customers. I imagine they're now more likely to drink home alone, which seems like a bad result, but maybe they're also drinking less and driving less while drunk?
posted by smelendez at 2:29 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile in Sweden, the state has a monopoly on the sale of wine, spirits or any beer over 3.5% strength. It operates a large chain of liquor shops known as the Systembolaget (which translates to an ominously euphemistic phrase meaning “the system enterprise”). In recent decades, this has morphed from the sort of spartan liquor shop you might find in, say, Utah or somewhere into a brightly lit, bountifully stocked booze supermarket, with signage giving advice for which beer/wine to have with various cuisines, booklets about the types of products on offer and so on. The prices are not particularly extortionate either; apparently, the state takes its cut through liquor taxes and doesn't run the shops themselves as a profit-making exercise.

It occurred to me that what Sweden is doing is attempting to take a liberal liquor regime (like the ones found in other European countries) and run it in a virtual machine of sorts, transparently replacing the market-based supply system with a government-run simulation, and expending considerable resources at making the simulation convincing. It still falls down in edge cases (while you can order drinks that shops won't devote shelf space to from their website, the range falls short of what a specialist liquor shop would have), though given that Sweden is part of the EU, those can be handled by ordering internationally.
posted by acb at 2:43 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


The swedish system sounds sort of lovely!
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:18 PM on May 8


During my youth in a CT town that bordered NY, we used to go on “Brewster Runs”. Thankfully, CT updated their laws so that the wine/beer/liquor store across the street from my house is open until 9pm. And it’s only because I’m an oldster that I am fine with it.
posted by sundrop at 3:19 PM on May 8


My (Kentucky) town only went wet about ten years ago, and the surrounding county is still dry. The whole region was dry when I was growing up, and bootleggers were everywhere. They became drug dealers, too. The nearest bars were across the state line in Tennessee, which led to accidents all the time. People who grew up in the dry era either don't drink at all or drink as much as they can every chance they get. I can't say everyone, I drink rarely, but still, those two extremes stand out.
posted by Miss Cellania at 3:31 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


The little burg of Shipshewana, IN is a dry town. It’s sort of the hub of Amishland in northern Indiana. Apparently quite the tourist destination. I can’t quite suss-out whether the dryness is by local ordinance, or merely that no retailer wants to get on the wrong side of the Amish (trust me, you do not want to piss-off the Amish up there) Regardless, you can’t but a drop of alcohol within the town borders.

Remember that episode of Mad Men, when Don and his crew went to Indiana to pitch Burger Chef? They made a big deal about there being no alcohol sales on Sunday here. That finally changed only a couple of years ago.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:39 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Swedish Systembolaget seems a little bit like Ontario LCBO on the surface. LCBO is a provincially owned profitable bureaucracy that sells all kinds of booze in mostly nice bright stores, and has a monopoly on the sale of hard liquor. They also like to publish glossy magazines about menu pairings. Their weird cousin is The Beer Store, which is a huge chain owned by a consortium of brewing conglomerates, and sells only beer to generic customers in industrial outlets with odd ergonomics. Not very fancy wine (Ontario basic) has been available in supermarket kiosks for a while, and recently some supermarkets have been allowed to start selling beer.

The Ontario provincial govt has been suffering through a weird & unpleasant regime lately, so it's possible that this whole system could also get a shake up.
posted by ovvl at 3:54 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


I was curious about the lone county in red in South Dakota in the map thecjm linked to. A moment’s googling uncovered this depressing nugget about Oglala Lakota county on Wikipedia:
The county is named after the Oglala Lakota, a band of the Lakota people. Many of the county's inhabitants are members of this sub-tribe.

The county's per-capita income makes it the poorest county in the United States.[6] It is the only dry county in South Dakota.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:09 PM on May 8


smelendez, I believe you, but I spent an astonishing amount of time in bars with my dad as a kid. The A&B in Welsh had Centipede!
posted by wintermind at 4:10 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Liquor laws really should not be this complicated Well then the 21st Amendment shoulda been a bit more clear on the Feds setting limits and not the states.

PA Beer distributors can sell less than a case now and gas stations can sell too. It's really the distributors that kept the laws that way. Would you want to lose your business due to a change of the law?

I remember the year they decided that the State Police could ignore those breaking the law by advertising the price of booze in public.

And our license process, unless it's been changed was so weird. A county was awarded X amount of licenses in some year and then that was it. So if you wanted to open a bar you had to buy a license from a place that wanted to sell ( and no longer wanted to serve booze ) So like the NYC medallion system, liquor licenses were way overpriced.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 5:25 PM on May 8


Oglala Lakota county...

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation essentially. Just south of Pine Ridge along the the SD-NE border is the town of White Clay, NE, home to about 10 people. The four beer stores in White Clay used to sell the equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer per year until the state pulled their licenses in 2017.
posted by nathan_teske at 5:47 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


I love that I can buy less than a 24-count case of beer now. It was fine for known brews but you didn't really want to spend $45 on a full case of some weird experimental beer without being able to try one first.
posted by octothorpe at 5:51 PM on May 8


I don’t know if it’s taxes or not having state-owned shops, or simply being the closest big city, but Copenhagen does seem to attract a pile of Swedes over the bridge for alcohol purposes.

Of course there the trip is by train— I doubt that’s true as often across the Ontario or PA borders.
posted by nat at 6:16 PM on May 8


Virginia has ABC stores, but Costco in DC sells liquor, so some people in my neighborhood make epic liquor runs over there. You can get Kirkland vodka, rum, etc. in addition to the name brands. Legally you are not supposed to bring back more than one gallon per person into the Commonwealth, but...
posted by candyland at 6:22 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


So I looked to see which states sold it in retail stores. Only two, as it turns out! Texas, and Rhode Island. * Only an hour away from my home in MA.

That’s only for the 195 proof stuff. The 151 proof Everclear is available in many states.


It's available in Oregon.
190 proof, $36.95 a bottle.

Very popular in Ontario, where they have 65(!) bottles in stock.
I'm guessing the proximity to the Idaho border has a lot to do with that.
posted by madajb at 6:52 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


are there any places where it is illegal to buy alcohol but legal to buy weed?

In the territory of Nunavut there are many dry communities, however - as weed was a federal push, it is available in all communities... with a caveat, you can only currently order it online, where it will be delivered through Canada Post and your ID will be verified when you go to your local post office to pick it up. Or - you can purchase it in another province and bring it with you when you fly...
posted by jkaczor at 7:23 PM on May 8


Virginia has ABC stores PA is weird of course but VA allows wine in grocery stores but also sells it in their ABC stores. Which....seems odd to me.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:43 PM on May 8


I grew up in a dry county in Kentucky and I can say that the bootlegger who bought alcohol in the next county over 100% never, ever carded any of the high school kids who bought booze from him. It was much harder to get booze while underage in PA as a college student that it was as a high schooler in a 'dry' county. Like Miss Cellania (Hi! Love Neatorama!), my previous residence is still a dry county but the city inside it is now 'wet'.
posted by jwest at 7:51 PM on May 8


dry...wet

I never liked this vocabulary. When I was drinking, I wasn't "wet", I was "drunk".
posted by thelonius at 8:08 PM on May 8


box's description of alcohol in Arkansas only scratches the surface of the insanity. It may be the only state that doesn't have state run stores that exercises the level of control that it does.

Why? Because the whole damn system is openly corrupt. Local control has allowed liquor store owners in various cities to prevent competition for beer sales from grocery and convenience stores, despite such sales being legal in wet counties under state law. Said corruption generates massive amounts of campaign contributions for small time politicians, especially county sheriffs.

Literally the only place I've seen with a more nonsensical application of liquor laws is Oklahoma, and that's only because of the finally-going-away near beer situation where 3.2 wasn't actually an "alcoholic beverage," which is what made it permissible to sell it without being a liquor store and to sell it refrigerated. Anything over 3.2 was only available in liquor stores, warm. Ridiculously, liquor stores were not allowed to sell 3.2 beer, warm or cold. Worse, their hours were often erratic thanks to ridiculous "holidays" where they couldn't open. They also weren't allowed to be open during an election. Until around 2008, that meant no liquor on election day at all since the liquor stores could only stay open until 7PM, which is precisely when the polls closed. That year they extended the legal opening hours to 8PM, so ever since the liquor stores have opened for exactly one hour on election days. Such a sensible system, innit?
posted by wierdo at 8:21 PM on May 8


> dry counties may actually be more troubled by drunk driving

The fact that drunk driving accidents are more common in dry counties reminded me of another unintended consequence of differences in drinking laws in different areas. This has to do with the differences in legal drinking ages in adjoining states.
When I was a teenager, my cousins lived in Pennsylvania, about an hour from the New York state border, over twisting, narrow state roads. The laws may be different now, but at that time the drinking age was 21 in Pennsylvania, and 18 in New York state. So it was routine for Penn teenagers to drive to New York to go drinking on weekend nights. And it was also routine for them to die in drunk driving accidents on the way back. In fact, my cousin's husband was the only survivor of a drunk driving accident that killed his two best friends. The difference in drinking ages in the adjoining states was just a recipe for murder.

The above reminds me of one way we could improve drinking laws in the US, overall. When we had an exchange student from Germany living with us, I was fascinated to learn that in Germany the legal drinking ages for drinking and driving were reversed, compared to America. I.e., instead of being able to drive years before you can legally drink, people in Germany can drink legally well before they can drive. As I recall, the legal drinking age in Germany is 15, while the driving age is 21? To my mind, it seems eminently sensible for people to 'learn' to drink before they're allowed to operate a deadly machine, instead of the other way around.
posted by Transl3y at 8:26 PM on May 8 [4 favorites]


When you grow up in a state with fairly lax booze laws and a drinking culture you don't even think there could be differences.

I remember being a bit surprised when I moved to Montana back in 2000 and my boss offered me a beer for the road on our way up to Flathead Lake. Considering our state's problems with drunk driving I'm glad those days are over, but it was quite an interesting experience at the time.
posted by traveler_ at 9:29 PM on May 8


Closing hours are another difference that can create problems: Prior to 1996, it was 1 AM in Ontario and 3 AM in Quebec, so drunk Ottawans would cross the bridge to finish the night in Hull. There were fights on the regular and the strip of bars downtown required a systematic police presence. In '96 last call was extended to 2 AM in Ontario, and in '97 the city of Hull forced its downtown bars to also close at 2 AM. There is, just now, a consultation on removing the 2 AM restriction so bars would stay open until 3 like in the rest of Quebec.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 10:06 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Albany, NY reporting in:

(Empire Wine and Liquor)

Everclear 190prf 1.0L Grain Alcohol
Each : $21.49
Case: $257.88
Item Number: 15316
Shelf Locator: 23b
posted by mikelieman at 10:49 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


I grew up in Arkansas, thankfully in a wet county, but there were still restrictions on Sunday. The beer in the grocery store has the lights turned off--no beer for you on Jesus day. BUT, bars are open on Sundays, so if you want a beer, just go out. And restaurants can serve beer and wine. IIRC, some bars would get around the restrictions by being able to sell six packs of beer "to go."

It's all so very very stupid. Over the years there were a number of tries by the Arkansas legislature to repeal these idiotic laws but the fucking Southern Baptists would catch wind of it and raise enough of a stink to kill any change. Thanks very much you religious twats.
posted by zardoz at 11:23 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


My observation of Europe:

The Norwegians go to Sweden. The Swedes go to Denmark. The Danes go to Germany. The Germans go to Poland. The Poles go to Ukraine. The Ukrainians go to Russia. Alcohol is basically free in Russia.

I'm hazy on the last couple (although alcohols is basically free in Russia, that bit's right) but everywhere you go has somewhere next door that's got cheaper booze and around the border you will always find people with large quantities of it who think they are on a winner. I lived in Denmark but am Australian. Most other things were a bit more expensive than back home, but with alcohol I was pretty sure I was on a winner. Actually that holds true in most of the world now.
posted by deadwax at 12:25 AM on May 9


Let’s ignore for a moment the poor quality and excessive cost of alcohol in Japan, and focus on the good things:

Alcohol is available at supermarkets, liquor shops, and convenience stores everywhere. Most kiosks on train platforms across the country will have at least a couple cans of beer, shochu cocktails, or sake.

There are no laws saying when you can sell alcohol. 24/7 is a thing.

There are no laws regarding where you can drink. Parks, beaches, public festivals, no restrictions.

You can order alcohol online, and it will be shipped to you, because having laws about preventing things from going from one prefecture to the next is dumb.

Restaurants don’t need to apply for separate liquor licenses, because a restaurant license includes the ability to sell alcohol. No need to tell your customers it’s byob because the only space you could find was near a church.

Sadly, for beer at least, there is a serious price/quality issue. The tax here is egregious, and, well, ouch.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:08 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


As one who stopped drinking and drugging decades ago, and agree with those here who have pointed out its evils, it strikes me that alcohol consumption is Very Important to many here.

I agree that the laws' inconsistency and irrationality are crazy though.
posted by goinWhereTheClimateSuitsMyClothes at 5:30 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Massachusetts still has some dry towns, but not as many as they did as late as the 1990s, when there were towns very close to Boston that were dry. Also, I remember the Blue Laws in Massachusetts that prohibited all sales of alcohol on Sundays, which seems like a quaint idea now. It's still surprising to me to see grocery stores that can sell alcohol, since that was expressly not allowed in MA when I was growing up.
posted by xingcat at 5:38 AM on May 9


One of my favorite MA liquor laws was State Sanctioned Holiday Drinking Season: Between Thanksgiving and New Years, you could buy booze on a Sunday.
posted by whuppy at 5:45 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


It's still surprising to me to see grocery stores that can sell alcohol, since that was expressly not allowed in MA when I was growing up.

There's still a law on the books that one corporate entity can own only three "package licenses," which is why there are only three Trader Joe's in the entire state that sell alcohol.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:06 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


That said, bar culture anywhere that doesn't have buses or high walkability seriously weirds me out.

One of my favorite things about living where I do is the hourly night bus that goes by my house and two prime bar spots in a city of 25 million...and I can walk to one of those spots. I think of all the times I didn't go out because transportation would be expensive...and it breaks my heart. Years of my life lost to guzzling convenience store beers on the street because I didn't want to deal with getting a taxi or driving.

On balance I still think dry zones are a good thing and that every large city should have at least one.

So Indonesia is fun. An entire country with the liquor laws of Texas except Bali. Guess where my friend got punched. Guess where all the times I probably deserved it, I didn't. Hint, my friend got punched in Bali.

Where I live is Beijing, that's in China, and China is one big open bottle party zone, just like Korea and Japan and Cambodia and Vietnam. Like, these places aren't moist, they're fekkin underwater in some deep ocean trench. It's funny, because you bring untraveled Indons/Malays/Singaporeans up north, and if you drink with them, the OMFG moment they realize "wait, it's everywhere, all the time, not even taxed?" is priceless.

Gotta say, I don't see much drunken violence here. I think that's because I'm not looking hard enough. I know it exists. But East Asians, despite the binge culture, seem to generally have a pretty healthy relationship with booze. You can go hard, any time any day, and no one will tsk or guilt you. They'll help you puke and get you home. Next time you'll take care of them, pay it forward style, and there's age-gender-drunkenness ethics about it, but they err on the side of "leave that person alone unless obviously distressed-looking", and they apply 24 hours a day. Drunks might get woken up and told to move off the sidewalk into the park, but that's no drunk tank. Establishments often let you pass out on the table until closing time. There's a very well-developed 代驾/"substitute driver" industry in the ride-hailing apps where someone sober (and Uber-style rated) will show up and drive your car home (and you're definitely paying more than a taxi for that, but hey, who told you to be driving in Beijing at all? the car tax is real yo).

What it all leads to is the alcohol-guilting here is so much gentler. So much so that you don't have to feel guilty if you binge drink. Obviously if you show up for work drunk, well, you're fired (actually not for me even, but kindergarten teachers better not), but that's because it's work. So sometimes you binge drink. And then you feel like SHIT the next day! And if you're me, at least, you self-correct, because it feels so much nicer not being dehydrated and incapacitated and hung over the next day. You save that state for the times it matters. And when someone tells you "I don't drink", you know it's for That. One. Reason. They don't like feeling like shit the next day. And you can respect that. For all you hear about Chinese business dinners and KTV nights, most people are actually not heavy drinkers, because they've tried and decided it's not for them. And ooh! Foreign liquors? Sichuan pepper and banana beer? Tell me more! But only one please. It's like that.

And I mean, if you broke up or had a really bad day at work, well...ok. It's there at 7-11, 24 hours a day, to be had for less than a taxi ride home (yo Chinese taxis are cheap af), and you can slog that down on the bus so long as you're not stinky and unruly (and if you are you'll simply be escorted off, seen it happen, I openly bus-drink all the time and get zero dirty looks). And I like it this way and I can go to bars now and just have water and say I'm pacing myself and it's FINE. I like this world without drinking laws. I wish China could do the same with weed, and I'm optimistic that one day they will, but until then, bottoms up, but only sometimes, and only if you want to, and props to my 7-11 staff homies drinking on the job, yep I smell you...

I smell you selling sandwiches to kids from the junior high just down the street. If I'm day-drinking, I line up with them and buy my beers right there. The kids know me. They know I don't have a real job, that I live right over there, that this isn't for them, and that if they need booze they don't need to talk to me, mom and dad or cousin joey or whatever's got the hookup. Ain't no need to ask Sweat Pants & Beer me. Sweat Pants & Beer man is a fixture everywhere, I'm just a mildly differentiated one 'cause I'm American & white & speak the language and sure, I'll help with your lessons if you need, I'm a freelancer and obviously bored, so I get some insight, but that's what it comes down to. It's one of the best junior high schools in the country. It's one of the ones that teaches in English and has a high percentage of international students. Everybody is chill. It's a weekday. They know not to drink. On the off chance I'm ever asked if they should, I'll say no, no matter how sloshed I am. Kids at school ain't need to be.

Am I drunk right now? You bet. It's 10pm here, two-day lull in my clients sending me stuff, I ain't getting more brain-intensive work until this weekend, and I'm cleaning my house & re-upping my resume, two otherwise tedious & stressful situations. Tomorrow I'm gonna wake up, slam some water, work out, and the hangover will be forgotten. I just baked my chicken breasts for the week, got some chickpeas soaking for hummus, etc. In some places they'd call that functional alcoholism, but not here. Here, people are like, "Oh, that makes perfect sense, I'd do exactly that in your shoes, and its so much cheaper than bars." The point is, it's a switch I can turn on and off. That's what it is for everybody here. That's what it should be everywhere. May they moisten the rest of America soon.
posted by saysthis at 7:07 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


There's still a law on the books that one corporate entity can own only three "package licenses," which is why there are only three Trader Joe's in the entire state that sell alcohol.

Maryland is worse - as I understand it, there's a patchwork of different laws by county, and down here in southern MD at least, I don't think you can obtain a license to sell alcohol to carry-away (i.e. not a bar or restaurant) unless your company is headquartered in the state. (There may be a "if you're not headquartered in the state, you can have a license for exactly one location" clause, but I'm not certain about that)

Hence, non of the chain grocery stores carry any alcohol, but just about all of them have a small mom-and-pop liquor store as part of the same development/strip mall, usually next door to the main grocery store. There are a couple of locally owned (usually "boutique") grocery stores in the area that do stock beer, wine and liquor - and at least one near me is owned by a politically-connected local family. I'm sure that's just coincidence...
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 7:24 AM on May 9


As I recall, the legal drinking age in Germany is 15, while the driving age is 21?

Beer is legal at 16. Liquor at 18. Driving at 18.

Re: Oklahoma's 3.2% beer
It was always a fun party trick for Texans who went across the border and could drink twice as much as anyone there because we're used to the 5+% beer on our side of the border.

I grew up in a wet town surrounded by dry towns (my town was also where the railroad workers would stop for booze and prostitutes, so I guess we dropped the prostitutes but kept the booze). You could still get alcohol in restaurants in the dry towns if you joined a "club", but you only had to do that once and your membership was good at any restaurant in the town. The funny thing is that in the middle of each of the two surrounded dry towns, there were smaller towns that essentially seceded from the larger ones just for the purpose of selling alcohol. So Pottsboro (pop. 1500) had Fink (pop. 5, maybe? its like one family) and Sherman (pop. 35K) had Knollwood (pop. 432, essentially just a trailer park and beer store). And Denison was there just mopping up all that sweet sweet tax revenue...until Sherman and Pottsboro decided to go wet about 10ish years ago.

I live in Germany now and they think it's the weirdest thing that we restrict alcohol so much but not guns! And I think its so weird that people are just drinking wherever without even so much as a paper bag.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:39 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


In Wisconsin, children can still drink in bars with their parents. I don't know of any bars that allow this, but it's legal. From the WI Department of Revenue:

Q: Can an underage person possess and consume alcohol beverages on licensed premises?
A: Yes. Persons under age 21 may possess and consume alcohol beverages if they are with their parents, guardians or spouses of legal drinking age; but this is at the discretion of the licensee. The licensed premises may choose to prohibit consumption and possession of alcohol beverages by underage persons.
posted by quarterinmyshoe at 7:49 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Albany, NY reporting in:

Oh, thank you, good to know! I go to NY a lot; I asked my college roommate in Utica if her liquor store had it, but she said no.

This is a great thread.
posted by Melismata at 8:00 AM on May 9


In Texas, it's the same way: if it's your parent giving it to you, you can drink underage.

In the state of Texas, parents accept responsibility for the safety of minors under 18 when the minor is on their property or on property leased by them and under their care, custody, and control; an adult may provide alcohol to a minor if he/she is the minor’s adult parent, guardian, or spouse, and is visibly present when the minor possesses or consumes the alcoholic beverage. (sauce [heh])

At least back when I was 16-18, this wasn't a problem, and I was allowed to drink a beer in many bars with my folks.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:56 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Also, it's weird that they put those two sentences together with a semicolon. They are independent clauses, but the topics are unrelated. The first is regarding, say, a group of minors drinking at someone's house -- the parent of one of those kids cannot give them all alcohol, even if they have all the other parents' permission.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:58 AM on May 9


The consumption of alcohol in the US is definitely not evenly distributed. The vast majority of people who drink, do so in (relative) moderation. DUIs are a real issue, as is binge drinking, but by and large the median alcohol consumer isn't drinking all that much. (FWIW, I would be willing to bet that if you asked most people in this cohort if they wanted to drink less, you might find a sizable number who say 'yes', but for reasons more related to weight loss / calorie restriction than "I have a drinking problem". If you could make zero-calorie alcohol it'd probably get you a knighthood, sainthood, TED Talk, invite to Davos, and Nobel Prize all at once. And yes—I think that's why the alcohol companies are terrified of cannabis.)

There are a relatively small number of very heavy drinkers who consume a shitload of alcohol, though, far more than anyone would say is remotely healthy. This is bad. This is where you get the majority of really negative health outcomes, and many social outcomes as well. In the past we used to call these people "habitual drunkards" (and still do in some places' laws, e.g. Texas), in reality they're probably people with some genetic propensity for physiological alcohol dependency.

The alcoholic beverage industry has, both currently and in the past, an obvious commercial motivation to seek out this second category of people and get product in their hands, because they go through so much of it. Which is pretty nakedly predatory, although anyone who is surprised by this needs to go back to Unregulated Capitalism 101, where "preying on the weak and unlucky" is, like, the first fifteen minutes of the first class.

Prohibition was a well-intended idea, and it did have positive effects. But it also showed that it's unrealistic to expect the public to limit their own behavior or curtail what they regard as an innocuous activity (and probably is, within the context of their life) in order to prevent negative outcomes in a minority of the population. As it turns out, "drunk tanks" and criminalizing addiction is a much easier sell—which also sucks. The alternative to these two extremes seems to be market regulation (particularly on advertising and other attempts to manufacture demand) and harm reduction.

tl;dr: Prohibition was an experiment in asking people to give up something fun for the greater good of society, Repeal was society saying "no, and fuck you for asking".
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:16 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


We live in New Orleans and get in trouble whenever we travel. It just seems so arbitrary. You can't even get a go cup anywhere but Las Vegas and New Orleans. I love go cups. What if you get thirsty walking to the next bar? It's hot and no one drives except people from out of town.
posted by domo at 9:22 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Domo, you can get go cups in STL. It's a beauty.

Also, Kansas City metro just legalized alcohol deliver by non-mail services. So you can order a pizza and beer and the driver will bring you both. You can also order from liquor stores and have it delivered within 30 minutes. Like Domino's, but with vodka.
posted by teleri025 at 9:35 AM on May 9


So I looked to see which states sold it in retail stores. Only two, as it turns out! Texas, and Rhode Island. * Only an hour away from my home in MA.
That’s only for the 195 proof stuff. The 151 proof Everclear is available in many states.


190-proof Everclear is readily available here in Indiana.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:42 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


The first time I saw someone in a restaurant take a half-finished bottle of wine home with them (in WV of all places) it was a shock. I'd lived in places with state-controlled liquor stores and places you could purchase anywhere. But where I live is very anti-public consumption so seeing someone just pick up their bottle and leave like it was normal was something i didn't even know was an option

The one that always shorts my brain out is when i hear stories of people in NY(NJ too? other east coast places?) showing up to pizza or other long-line takeout places with a few chairs and bringing beer to drink in the shop or in line

We got liquor in grocery stores here years ago, but if if you buy booze at the store, you better be drinking it in your house or your back yard. Places like NOLA might as well be another planet. Even bringing wine to a restaurant to have them uncork is strange and barely heard of here, although technically legal.

Seriously what the heck, legal drinking in line????
posted by emptythought at 9:42 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


but just about all of them have a small mom-and-pop liquor store as part of the same development/strip mall, usually next door to the main grocery store.
When I moved to Houston in the mid-90s, one of the big grocery chains in town (then as now) was the locally owned Randall's chain. (It's now part of the Albertson's group.) They were also the only such grocer in town that didn't sell beer or wine, owing the the somewhat hardshell Baptist inclinations of the founder, who at that time still controlled the company.

The market finds a way, though, so literally NEXT DOOR to every single Randall's I ever saw in Houston was a fully-stocked liquor store. Most liquor stores in Houston that aren't monster superstores are small affairs that focus on hard booze, with maybe only a little wine and beer, because the grocery stores have more shelf space -- but the ones next to Randall's locations were well stocked across the board, because they had an effectively captive market.

Of course, eventually the founder died or retired or something, and the next generation did not share his willingness to leave so much money on the table, and Randall's joined their competition in selling beer & wine.
posted by uberchet at 9:51 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I would be willing to bet that if you asked most people [sic] if they wanted to drink less, you might find a sizable number who say 'yes', but for reasons more related to weight loss / calorie restriction than "I have a drinking problem". If you could make zero-calorie alcohol it'd probably get you a knighthood, sainthood, TED Talk, invite to Davos, and Nobel Prize all at once. And yes—I think that's why the alcohol companies are terrified of cannabis.

The above is italicized for convention demonstrating another's words. The below is italicized and bolded by myself for obvious reasons.

Amen.
posted by saysthis at 10:08 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile on a recent trip to Iceland, there was precisely one liquor store in the entire city of Reykjavík - for the most part I did not see beer or wine in the grocery & convenient stores either. Bottles of liquor that would typically cost $20-$30 were $50-$70 for the exact same amount and brand. Drinks at bars there ranged from $12-$18 each as well.
Hell it makes the US look like the wild west!
posted by hillabeans at 10:22 AM on May 9


I'm sorry to launch on this, but in the name of not abusing the edit function, and in the name of just saying it because it needs to be said everywhere Americans discuss alcohol, here goes:

Some of us, not many, but some, have had the privilege to not have a full-time job, have enough disposable income that travel and drugs are well within the budget, and to integrate into cultures where chemically altered states are...not so stigmatized, or not linked to sin, or choose your flavor of "not a big deal unless you're doing something mentally challenging & that involves other people".

For such people, and I am one of them, the only time I see addiction being an issue in others is when people aren't a member of my privileged class. That's telling for three reasons:
1) Real, physical addicts are hurting. They need help they aren't getting because of stigma from every community. Rehab costs WAY more than they can afford in their addled state.
2) Psychological addicts are that way because something ELSE is wrong too. Fact is, drugs all have a comedown. For me, booze is worse than ecstasy. I'm no kind of habitual user of anything, I spend 25 days a month bone cold sober, including booze, but I'll tell you what - use anything, and if you come out and the world sucks for you? You'll dive right back in. I am immensely lucky to have the support network and job that I do. There are no consequences for me, other than the comedown, and that's enough to slow my roll.
3) Stigma is a BIG DEAL. Americans, for centuries, have had very suboptimal liquor laws, and that drives a LOT of our history. People are either drunk and trying not to be or not drunk and trying to be. Plus no other drugs, except did you notice all the other drugs? That we jail people for? Marijuana is a new entrant, finally cracking the legality threshold, and I hope it makes us rethink booze, because we desperately need to look again at this thing we call sobriety and law.

I personally think it's ok to get your head bent sometimes. I think it's not ok to drive a car while you do it. I think society can't even. I'm a drinker before I'm a smoker, and I'm excited for marijuana legalization because can we have a real look at the actual problems? If you're addicted to anything, chances are something is wrong, and you need support, not castigation. All addiction is the NON-ability to accurately appraise what's good for you and execute it. That's basic human dignity and value, and we should help each other get there. I think most of the time we fuck ourselves up because a fucked up situation made us do it. It's on all of us to fix that, one person at a time.

Meanwhile on a recent trip to Iceland, there was precisely one liquor store in the entire city of Reykjavík - for the most part I did not see beer or wine in the grocery & convenient stores either. Bottles of liquor that would typically cost $20-$30 were $50-$70 for the exact same amount and brand. Drinks at bars there ranged from $12-$18 each as well.
Hell it makes the US look like the wild west!
posted by hillabeans at 2:22 AM on May 10 [+] [!]


Oh this is real. Ok so Eurozone is super expensive anyway, but can we stop and look for a minute at how the US/China/Cambodia/Vietnam honestly have similar tax codes? Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Iceland have more in common about vice taxes than they do with us. Now these are all radically different countries and drinking cultures, but having been to most, I can tell ya, high-tax places often have their toxic bathtub booze, and low-tax places kinda don't. The US is the only one on the list that requires you to drive to drink, and somehow we don't tax people for that like Iceland and Singapore and Japan do. Put that one in your pipe and smink it. I'm smunk.
posted by saysthis at 10:45 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


The first time I went to a major league baseball game that was not the Red Sox, I almost fell over when I saw a vendor walking down the aisles selling beer. (He still had to open the bottle in front of you.)

At Fenway Park, my friend was unfortunate enough to be in the beer line at the exact second when the seventh inning ended, and a huge burly cop stepped in front of him and said "NO."

Hopefully, when the revolution comes people will realize how ridiculous all this is and throw in some changes.
posted by Melismata at 10:48 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Rather than Everclear - there is at least 2 "generic" 190 proof and you buy a case in Wisconsin it is $15 a liter bottle.

There is no 195 proof Everclear as that will pull water from the air and make it about 190 proof.

If you want to use not-methonal for your biodiesel you have to de-water it. Zeolites or dried cracked corn in the vapor path has been used to de-water.

As for the soap maker:

Consider making your own and pay the Feds $35 for your still. As long as you are not drinking the output from your still you are using it for legal means.

Depending on what and how you build the still you could use it to get distilled plants for your soaps. Some has to be done in stainless and others works best with copper.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:56 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


A 1997 study in Texas, found the rate of fatalities in drunk-driving accidents was three times higher in dry counties than in wet.

They don't care.
posted by Cosine at 11:43 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


In Alaska, ID rules are so strict that if you're in line at the liquor store, and your friend walks by and waves at you through the window, the clerk now has to check your friend's ID too, since you could be buying for them since you obviously know them. This means that technically, you can't bring the kids to the liquor store with you when you're running errands, nor can you leave them in the car where they clerk can see them. There are also a lot of dry towns, which seems to be mostly by consensus in very small and remote places.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:51 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


In Alaska, ID rules are so strict that if you're in line at the liquor store, and your friend walks by and waves at you through the window, the clerk now has to check your friend's ID too, since you could be buying for them since you obviously know them.

Oh my god, washington is like this too. I've literally held out to have the store manager and even the cops the clerk called show up in this situation because once i paid, they couldn't immediately refund me, but they wouldn't let me leave with what i bought.

It took two hours to resolve.

On christmas morning.

They're a bit less ridiculous most of the time now, but it's still technically the law and stickler clerks regularly pull this.
posted by emptythought at 12:54 PM on May 9


That story is utterly bananas, emptythought. Even in the Bible belt I only ever encountered clerks who wanted plausible deniability, not an active role in enforcing the age limit.

To illustrate, another funny story: At one point in college (1992?) I made a run to the ABC store early on a Saturday afternoon. My buddy Brad -- also of age -- was too lazy to go with me, but asked me to get him "a cheap bottle of bourbon," and handed me a twenty.

My other pal John and I got our shopping done, and in the process realized we needed to engage in some malicious compliance re: Brad's instructions. I mean, he certainly meant maybe Jim Beam, or Evan Williams, or even Old Crow, as opposed to something nicer, but there's a whole SHELF of awful rotgut below those guys, and we set about trying to find something truly terrible.

The shelves were uninspiring, though, so we paid for the stuff we wanted and then enlisted the clerk. We told her we were picking up a bottle for a friend who'd requested "cheap bourbon," and that we wanted to get something really, really, really cheap and really, really, really awful. Did she have something maybe in the back?

In retrospect, this is where I get shocked, because I was like 22 at the time, and absolutely bought liquor for underage pals on the regular. I just wasn't doing it THIS PARTICULAR TIME. However, you'd think an ABC employee would've clocked me as exactly who I was and blanched at my "buying a bottle for someone else not present" plan, except she totally did not care.

Instead, she grinned, and said "hold on right here; I've got JUST WHAT YOU WANT."

She was gone for a while. We were alone in the front of the store, which was weird, but hey, Alabama. Anyway, when she came back she had a bottle that was no-shit DUSTY from being on a shelf since, I dunno, the Nixon administration. She was carrying it carefully, so as to preserve the filth, which we appreciated.

It was a smooth, clear glass bottle -- totally undifferentiated, like a whiskey bottle in a cowboy movie, except for the label. The brand was "Mr Bourbon," and featured an anthropomorphic bottle of itself (think Mr Peanut, but Bourbon), which also had the label on it; recursion is always funny.

I presented Brad's twenty. She rang us up and handed me back the change slowly.

First she gave me a ten. Then she gave me a five. Then, as God is my witness, she gave me A SINGLE and some silver. The bottle was something like $3 and change. We put all Brad's change in the bag with the bottle and giggled all the way back to campus.

Brad was suitably horrified, especially when he realized how much change he got back.

But, I mean, obviously we drank it. We're not animals.
posted by uberchet at 3:55 PM on May 9 [15 favorites]


How was it?
posted by ardgedee at 4:22 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


The brand was "Mr Bourbon," and featured an anthropomorphic bottle of itself (think Mr Peanut, but Bourbon), which also had the label on it; recursion is always funny.

Is there a picture of this somewhere in the world?
posted by saysthis at 4:24 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


ardgedee: Utterly, completely, irredeemably horrible. Even to our collegiate palates, and even mixed with Coke.

saysthis: I looked for one to link in on the post, but came up empty. I'm sure there's a digital copy online somewhere, but my queries were full of references to a whiskey hobbyist in Germany who uses the name for himself.

it's probably worth noting that it was (a) obviously rotgut when it was new, and thus not fondly remembered; (b) very, very old when I bought it in 1992; and (c) from a long-dead brand evene then. So it may have passed from this vale of tears unmourned and unremembered.
posted by uberchet at 6:12 PM on May 9


We’ve only recently stopped requiring plebiscites to overturn prohibition era “dry counties” in Nova Scotia. Craziness that still existed here until last year.
posted by jay2dadub at 6:56 PM on May 9


In Alaska, ID rules are so strict that ...

In Alaska, penalty for DUI can include having a special notation on your license/ID which prohibits you from buying alcohol. So when bars check your ID, it's not just for age, but for court order.

Also note that Alaska villages can choose to be wet (no restrictions), damp (no sales, but import/possession may be okay), or dry (no sales, import, or possession). It's a local choice, possibly driven in part by the remoteness of many villages (reachable by plane/boat/foot but not car, except maybe in the winter when the rivers freeze over) and challenges exacerbated by that isolation, and cultural issues stemming from colonialism and intergenerational trauma.

It's a very live and heartbreaking issue. Bethel, for instance, which is like the 9th largest community in Alaska (pop: 6500-ish), the largest community in western Alaska, located off the road system, and the hub for numerous small villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, has debated the issue over the past few years. E.g. In Bethel, An Alcohol Showdown "Like No Other" (KYUK, 5/24/18); Local Option Failed. So, What's Next? (KYUK, 10/4/18).
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 8:14 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine worked in a nominally dry village a couple of hours from Bethel. Swimming in alcohol and drugs at all times: unmarked planes would fly it in after dark.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:54 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


It's just 10 times the normal 5 times anywhere else in the US price it would be if it were being flown in on airplanes during the day.
posted by wierdo at 1:57 AM on May 10


Melismata, not to brag too much, but at a Japanese baseball game, instead of a middle aged man lugging around cans or bottles of beer, you tend to get young people, mostly women, mostly college students, walking up and down the aisles with small kegs of beer on their backs, with little taps, and they will come over and pour you a fresh cup of beer, and it’s wonderful*. Also, beer sales last as long as the game, so if the game goes into extra innings, you don’t have to deal with the encroaching waking hangover, one of the worst errors in drinking. Of course, that’s because few people actually drive to games, and public transportation is frequent and convenient.

Also wonderful, it’s perfectly okay to bring in your own food to a Japanese baseball game, and also really, really easy to bring your own beer.

it is wonderful as long as you can find the nice people selling Sapporo. In a pinch, I’d drink Kirin, but I’d grumble. Asahi is flavorless swill I wouldn’t serve to people I disliked. Suntory is beer I’d intentionally serve to people I wished ill.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:12 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Albany, NY reporting in:

Oh, thank you, good to know! I go to NY a lot; I asked my college roommate in Utica if her liquor store had it, but she said no.


OK, I can't let this one pass:

"You call whiskey 'everclear'?"
"Yes! It's a regional dialect."
"Uh-huh. What region?"
"Uh, upstate New York?"
"Really? Well, I'm from Utica and I've never heard anyone say the word 'everclear'."
"Oh, not in Utica, no. It's an Albany expression."
"I see. You know, this liquor is quite similar to the one Wild Turkey makes."
"Oh, no, patented Skinnershine! Old family recipe."
"For everclear."
"Yes!"
"Yes... and you call it everclear despite the fact that it is obviously brown."
"Excuse me for one second."
posted by jackbishop at 2:38 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Re "Mr Bourbon", there is a picture of a bottle with that label on it here. (It doesn't seem to have the anthropomorphic recursive bottle on it, which is slightly disappointing, but does have a suitably stern-looking guy, presumably the titular Mr Bourbon.)

It just says it's bottled by "Mr Bourbon, Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky". I guess no distillery wanted to take credit for it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:24 AM on May 13


Here's another slightly better picture of a Mr. Bourbon bottle (still no self referential label, sadly!) and some history on the TW Samuels distillery that seems to have made it.
posted by tavella at 7:21 PM on May 13


And this piece on the history mentions that they changed the distilling methods late in their history that created "a burned taste and smell". Per the family history in the other link, they actually continued bottling until 1975, so "the Nixon administration" was probably about right.
posted by tavella at 7:29 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


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