The United States has always had a close, but strange, relationship with alcohol. Many state and local laws that were established to regulate the consumption of spirits throughout the country’s history still remain on the books long after they stopped being enforced. Still, some localities continue to be sticklers. Pay-as-you-go drink ordering, bans on cold beer—it’s a weird drinking world across the U.S. of A. Get ready to explore some of the strange alcohol laws that still have some teeth.
It’s common for drinkers to leave their credit cards with the bartender as they enjoy a few rounds with friends. Not in Iowa. The Hawkeye State prohibits running a tab and requires everyone to pay as they go.
There are few things more enjoyable than cracking open a cold beer on a hot day. Unfortunately, for Oklahomans, any beverage containing 4 percent alcohol by volume or more can only be sold at room temperature in licensed liquor stores. Here’s hoping this archaic law is repealed sooner rather than later.
Moore County, Tenn., is home to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. It’s also a dry county, which means that up until a few years ago you were served a glass of lemonade at the end of the tour. Fortunately, new legislation allows visitors to have a tiny taste of the legendary whiskey when visiting the facility.
Everyone relishes that feeling of ducking out of the office early and heading to the bar for discounted drinks. Unless you’re from Massachusetts. The Bay State forbids businesses from running happy-hour specials as a public safety measure—not what you would expect from Norm Peterson’s hometown.
The country’s love/hate relationship with booze is especially obvious in certain parts of the South, where liquor laws can range from draconian to lackadaisical. Savannah, Ga., falls into the latter category. The Hostess City of the South has no law against drinking in public, so residents and visitors frequently enjoy a cold beverage in the city’s squares and parks.
Like many other states, Maine has restrictions on the times when alcohol can be served on the church days. Typically, 9 a.m. on Sundays is the first time Mainers can belly up to the bar. But in 2013, Governor Paul LePage signed an emergency law that allows booze sales to begin at 6 a.m. when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday, as it did that year.
Out of all the wacky liquor laws, Utah’s Zion Curtain rules may be the most bizarre. In an effort to keep children from seeing alcoholic drinks being prepared, the state requires restaurants to mix or pour drinks behind an opaque barrier. The Beehive State’s restrictive drinking laws can be attributed to the strong influence of the Mormon Church, which bans alcohol use among its faithful.
Think you know the booze?
Let’s start with some basics.