The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 9, 2014

Liquor by-the-drink was a success in Oklahoma

NORMAN — In 1984, Oklahoma voters approved liquor-by-the drink — arguably the beginning of the state’s emergence into modern times and certainly the end of decades of hypocrisy.

Before liquor-by-the-drink, we had liquor-by-the-wink. To get a mixed drink, you had to belong to a private club and have your own personal, marked bottle on the premises. At least that was what the law said.

In practice, of course, things were very different. “Clubs” handed out membership cards at the door. Dusty sham bottles lined the back of bars, but who knew what drink came out of what bottle.

Enforcement was a joke. In Norman, University of Oklahoma undergraduates went into restaurants on Sunday evenings, when the dorm cafeterias were closed, to find that the hostesses wouldn’t serve light beer because the police enforced the city’s blue law, but they would gladly bring a martini. No one was enforcing the state’s alcohol laws.

Despite the state’s Bible Belt reputation, liquor was flowing freely in Oklahoma, especially in the cities. It just wasn’t getting regulated or taxed.

Liquor-by-the-drink changed all that.

Several times before, Oklahoma voters had rejected liquor-by-the-drink, but in 1984, things went the other way. State Question 563 passed with a little more than 51 percent of the vote.

Last week, Oklahoman reporter Jennifer Palmer took a look at the progress of liquor-by-the-drink in the state.

Only 26 of the state’s 77 counties remain “dry.” Two more counties, Choctaw and Johnston, will take up the issue early this year.

Since the expansion of the legal sale of mixed drinks to people over the age of 21, the horrors that liquor-by-the-drink opponents prophesied haven’t come true.

The number of traffic deaths and crashes went down after liquor-by-the-drink became law, a trend that started before the law and continued after it.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Quite the resilient bunch

    The people of Moore are a resilient bunch. They’ve bounced back from tornadoes before, but the current renaissance may be the quickest yet. FEMA officials said it would take two years to see some sense of normalcy. That’s hardly the case....

    July 24, 2014

  • A fresh start for VA

    All of us have high hopes for the confirmation and success of Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald. If confirmed — and most believe he’s a shoe-in — McDonald will take over a paralyzed system of health care that is not ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Call up National Guard

    We’re not sure it will help, but you have to hand it to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He deployed up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure his state’s border with Mexico this week....

    July 23, 2014

  • It’s only getting worse

    Conditions for children in Oklahoma were starting to look up for a few years, according to the annual Kids Count reports. Now we know it wasn’t getting better. The recession was impacting the rest of the country, dropping their scores....

    July 23, 2014

  • Noting a life well lived

    James Garner never intended to be a movie and television star. He just kind of lucked into it, he would tell those who asked. If you have the itch to act, get a good-paying job and spend your free time at your local community theater, he ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Recount that really matters

    Americans have been hearing a lot about Congressional elections, but there’s another one halfway around the globe that will matter far more....

    July 22, 2014

  • Runoffs get no respect

    The Aug. 26 Republican runoff election for the Cleveland County District 3 commissioner post is one of only 18 races on ballots around the state. Only two races are statewide — the Democrat contests for U.S. Senator nominee and state ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Change some lines

    Editor, The Transcript: Looking at how our elected Republican friends are reacting to the refugee children crossing the border and now being housed in Lawton, I have a suggestion. Let’s edit the Christian Bible in several places to reflect ...

    July 21, 2014

  • New health care system demonized

    To the Editor: In October 2013, soon after we were asked to take over management responsibilities at our family business, we were visited by the company’s health insurance agent. She explained that a decision needed to be made regarding ...

    July 21, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014