Southern Stories
The Quest For Sunday Beer: Liquor Laws in the Bible Belt
Apr 01/13

The Quest For Sunday Beer: Liquor Laws in the Bible Belt Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments

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If the United States and liquor were to be Facebook official, the relationship would no doubt be labeled, “It’s complicated.” Move South, drop a dose of Bible Belt guilt on it, and “complicated” becomes a serious understatement.

While Kentucky boasts more barrels of bourbon than people within its borders, Sunday liquor sale bans still stand in Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Even though states like Arkansas technically allow Sunday liquor sales, it must be voted on in each municipality, under voting standards so complicated, change is extremely difficult.
It’s been claimed by more than one that liquor laws, as antiquated and complicated as they may be, do serve one important purpose: to keep a particular group of people maximizing profits.
Most liquor laws are what remains of the Blue Laws following Prohibition after lobbyists in each state were through with them. Each shows some insight into who holds the power and what each state’s priorities are.
Whatever their intended purpose, profits or safety, liquor laws around the country can provide plenty of entertainment.

  • In Louisiana, a liquor permit may be issued to any type of business except a donut shop.
  • It is illegal to sell alcohol in restaurants, bars and package stores on state and national Election Days in Kentucky and South Carolina. This dates back to when saloons were used as polling places in some states. The law remains on the books in Massachusetts and Alaska, but municipalities are allowed to provide an exemption.
  • Five states ban spirits (hard liquor) tastings: Alaska, Georgia, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah.
  • Twelve states still ban liquor sales on Sunday: Alabama, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
  • Indiana is the only state that still bans beer, wine and liquor sales on Sundays.
  • In Tennessee, liquor stores must be located on the ground floor of a building and have only one entrance to the public from the street, unless it is located on a corner, then it may have an entrance facing both streets.
  • In North Carolina, a bar may advertise a mixed drink with a picture or description and the price, but the ad may not include the particular spirit’s brand or company name.
  • In South Carolina, malt beverages containing not more than 5 percent alcohol by weight, and wines containing no more than 21 percent alcohol by volume “are declared to be nonalcoholic and non-intoxicating.”
  • In Washington, beer, wine and spirits may be sold at professional sporting events at approved restaurants and lounges. At these same events, only beer may be served through seating areas, and only wine may be served and consumed in club seats.
-Source: Distilled Spirits Council of United States
If this law review teaches us anything, it’s that some clichés really are true: It’s best not to watch how laws and sausage are made. But watching someone mix a proper drink, well, that’s a sight to behold. Just check your calendar first to be sure it’s legal.



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