Happy Hours, Happy Days, & Room Temperature Beer

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.

8 thoughts on “Happy Hours, Happy Days, & Room Temperature Beer”

  1. If you’ve been to New Orleans you probably know that they have drive-thru bars. It is legal to literally drink and drive within the city limits. Not get drunk and drive, but sip on a Hurricane while cruising the circuit. You can also leave a French Quarter bar with a drink, walk around with it in hand, and carry it into another bar. Very tolerant drinking laws in a city renowned for the party life.

    1. I was in a town in Wyoming – Hulett – where it was also legal to walk around town with a drink, whether it was your own or you walked out of a bar with it. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think it was a Wyoming thing, as I was told that it was unique to that town. A local even told me that it was the hippiest town in the US; of course, having been to Black Mountain, North Carolina, I didn’t necescarily believe that.

      Also, while it is only slightly related, I have passed through many states where one can buy package beer or liquor in almost any local bar, besides the regular liquor stores, groceries, convenience stores and so on. Of course, in New Orleans, you can also buy a drink in the laundromat, or, is it, the some of the bars also serve as laundries? and game rooms, and bookstores, and mini-casinos (of the one-arm-bandit variety), and food vendors, and…

  2. when i moved to texas in 83 there was such a thing that u could havean open container and the place where i worked had beer in the fridge for any employee who wanted one, these were supplied by the trucking companies for doing business with them each brought in a couple cases a week it was a different time then.

  3. Doing the sixties.when we were drafted into the service.I can’t remember ever being carded at the service clubs….and I know some of us were under tha age of 18….even over seas if you had the money you could drink…..some places it was free…….

    1. On the US Navy bases I served on all had special permission from the state they were in to sell 3.2% beer to sailors under the age of 21. Off base you had to legally be 21 but we were rarely carded. I was never in a foreign country that I wasn’t old enough to legally drink all types of alcohol, but never free. On the naval base at Gitmo, Cuba the Navy sold us beer for a nickel a can with Heineken going for a dime.

      1. When I was refering to being free…if you had a good officer in charge……some times when you got back to base…there were cases and cases left there you……And yes it was never free at the clubs …..

        1. When we were in Scotland the ship did rent a hall and throw a ship’s party. They bought a bunch of ice, flew in some American beer from an American AF Base in England, iced the brew down and we had at it. By that time, however, most of us had become used to drinking the heavier Scottish brews at room temperature and the ice cold American stuff wasn’t all that great! But, it was for the evening plentiful and free!

  4. While at a Walmart with some host family friends while in Oklahoma, I picked up a couple six-packs of beer and couldn’t buy ’em at the check out because one of the members of the host family with me was under eighteen, even though I asked to be checkout out separately because the clerk had seen the beer in the same cart with the stuff they bought at checkout. I took the beer down to a different checkout clerk, but the way he looked at me I thought he was going to tell that clerk not to check me out, either, but he didn’t. (I know I should’ve bought the beer at a liquor store where it would’ve been 6%, but it was quite late and, I’m sure, most liquor stores were closed.)

Leave a Reply