Alan Riquelmy: A taste for change |

Alan Riquelmy: A taste for change

Photo by Eric Tompkins on Unsplash

I knew something was different when, sitting in my car, the clerk handed me a margarita.

The drive-thru bar was new to me. Pull up, place your order and drive away with the mixed drink of your choosing. Promise not to drink it while driving, and we’re all good.

This was, and still is, in New Orleans. Culture is different there. Walk around with your large adult beverage on Bourbon Street. Find the Home of the Hand Grenade. It’ll blow up your stomach, and your wallet, if you don’t watch yourself.

With the advent of COVID-19, this isn’t so different anymore. The previously forbidden is now fairly tame, and the pattern now found in California fits nicely with the Big Easy.

I’m not arguing that our whole state should twist itself into some version of Bourbon Street …

Drive up and an employee brings you your drink properly sealed, along with some food. You drive away and enjoy it in the comfort of your home, all acceptable under the state’s temporary rules.

Or maybe you go to a park and drink openly along with everyone else. What’s Gavin going to do about it?

And there’s the big question. A temporary relaxation of alcohol laws has made it clear that the old ways aren’t needed. So why don’t we don’t change them?

Well, for one, the restaurants might not want it, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. According to Jacob Appelsmith, director of the state’s Department of Alcohol Control, eateries typically don’t care for it. They’d prefer people come inside, where the business is likely to make more money. Additionally, it appears kids are using delivery apps to have booze delivered to their front door.

In Japan, there are public vending machines with beer. Chalk it up to cultural differences.

This, of course, does nothing to help the law-abiding California imbiber of adult beverages. What is this person to do?

For starters, look toward recent history.

My own examples consist of Alabama and Georgia, where blue laws have been the norm for decades. Twenty years ago, if you lived in Montevallo, for example, you’d have to drive to Jefferson County on a Sunday if you wanted to buy a beer.

Fifteen years ago, some restaurateurs in northwestern Georgia wanted to have the ability to serve alcohol on Sunday. Off-premise Sunday sales weren’t part of the deal. Just sales in a restaurant, on a Sunday, no earlier than 12:30 p.m.

There was wailing, and one city commissioner who didn’t want it going to a vote of the people. But it passed, and regular life trudged along, as it always does.

But the big one, the one that really messed with the status quo, was a move to allow off-premise Sunday alcohol sales. That means going into a liquor store on a Sunday, making a purchase and taking it home.

It required a change to state law, which the governor at the time — Sonny Perdue, now U.S. secretary of agriculture — publicly opposed. In an odd show of bipartisanship, his would-be successors on both sides of the political aisle seemed blasé about approving Sunday sales if elected.

That last bit is likely the best indicator of why our attitudes, and laws, toward alcohol have changed over the years. It’s nothing more than a population’s slow drift toward what’s wanted.

What was anathema to your grandparents and an inconvenience to be worked around by your parents is something you demand should change.

If the will is there in the people of California, then takeout alcohol will arrive for good. Maybe it’ll take a year, or 10 years. The most innocuous of predilections has a way of changing the world around us.

I’m not arguing that our whole state should twist itself into some version of Bourbon Street, with boozy attitudes flowing from metaphorical and literal taps.

But it sure would be nice to get a taste.

Contact City Editor Alan Riquelmy at or 530-477-4239.

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