Several years ago I wrote a piece about some of the various drinking laws in America. There’s no end to the variety and everything keeps changing. In the mid 1980s the state of Kansas, which has some of the toughest drinking laws in the nation, passed a law banning happy hours in its watering holes. Since then crafty barkeeps have skirted the law by promoting happy days rather than happy hours. Hurricane Allie’s in Merriam, KS promotes Two-Dollar Tuesdays where domestic bottled, 16-oz draft, and all well drinks are just $2 each. Similar specials are featured on other days.
The ban against happy hours grew out of concern that they encouraged binge drinking and driving under the influence. In Kansas communities close to states where such laws still exist there is a booming business with people hopping in their cars, crossing state lines, and later driving back home with a load on.
In New York during the 1960s the drinking age was 18 and bars could stay open until 3:30 a.m. Nearby Connecticut communities, where the drinking age was 21 and bars closed earlier, had to deal with alcohol related driving accidents far above the national norm.
Back in the dark ages Ohio permitted people between 18 and 21 to consume beer containing less than 3.2 percent alcohol. I don’t think you can even purchase 3.2% in Ohio today. Matter of fact, the alcohol content doesn’t even appear on the labeling of most beers currently sold in Ohio. Kansas, however, only permits grocery stores and carry-outs to sell 3.2% beer. Higher alcoholic content beers may only be sold in state licensed liquor stores. Oklahoma has a similar law but states that beer sold in licensed liquor stores can only be sold at room temperature. No stopping in for a quick 6-pack of ice cold high-test.
Some friends recently told of us about being in a Southern state and wanting to bring home a certain brand of beer they enjoyed that was not sold in Ohio. They loaded up their shopping cart with a number of 6-packs only to be told at the check out register state law limited purchases to a single 6-pack per person at a time. They had to make a number of trips to get the amount they wanted to bring home.
Ohio’s laws aren’t nearly as restrictive as they once were. Local communities still have some say if or how alcohol is sold but the state does now permit Sunday sales and alcoholic beverages are more widely available for carry-out. Ohio restricts sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 but it can be consumed or prescribed for religious or medicinal purposes. In the company of their parents, spouse or guardian, underage children in Ohio can have a drink while dining in an Ohio restaurant.
Among all the great variation of laws regulating alcoholic beverages one of the most ironic is the location of Jack Daniel’s Distillery. The home of this world-famous and highly prized sippin’ whiskey is located in Moore County, Tennessee which is bone dry. They can make it there, you can watch them, you can smell it in the air, but you can’t sample even a drop in Moore County.