Enjoy the Memorial Day holiday, but don’t forget to 

Beer Top

 

 

By: Shawndra Russell

 

I lived in Savannah, Georgia for ten years, and one of the things I miss most is the “to-go cup.” See, within the two square miles that make up downtown Savannah’s historic district, plastic to-go cups await by the exit at nearly every bar and restaurant. Essentially, the entire area becomes one big beer garden, resembling a European park with people lounging in the 22 grassy squares that dot Savannah’s ideal grid layout.

The to-go cup symbolizes one of the city’s nicknames, Slovannah. Instead of gulping down the last of your drink before moving on to the next pub, you can just bring your beverage with you and take your time sipping on your craft beer, wine or cocktail of choice as you meander to the next spot.

This open-container policy also means that people spill out into the streets, adding square footage to every bar, thus creating a cocktail party atmosphere on lots of sidewalks and corners. It also gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” Instead of beelining to the next venue, we often ended up popping into someplace along the way because we knew we weren’t committed to stay there beyond ordering a drink and heading back out. We weren’t trapped until everyone had finished their drink, so our evenings out felt more fluid, more spontaneous. Friends could show up whenever, and grab a to-go cup if we were all ready to move on.

Savannah spoiled me, since I moved there when I was barely of drinking age and didn’t realize that the to-go cup was a rare privilege. As I began traveling and denied to-go cups in several other cities, I discovered that some of these aren’t surprising, like the Las Vegas Strip, where people can even carry bottles around (not the best variation of the open-container policy) and New Orleans. Yet, others might surprise you, like:

  • Butte, Montana: A proposed change to their open-container policy in 2013 caused an uproar among Montanans yet still resulted in open containers being banned from 2am-8am.
  • Kansas City, Missouri’s Power and Light District: Imbibers can enjoy a drink at some of the city’s 200+ fountains—more than any other city except Rome.
  • Beale Street, Memphis: Many walkup windows at bars proudly pour beer into “Beale Big Ass Beer” cups.
  • Hood River, Oregon: The lenient law becomes especially useful during their annual Hops Fest.
  • Erie, Pennsylvania: One Erie lawyer and downtown board member explained, “It gives us more flexibility in holding events,” such as the CelebrateErie, and Roar on the Shore.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: 350 acres of green space begs for some quality day drinking.
  • Sonoma, California: At Sonoma Park Plaza, wine flows freely from 11am until dark.
  • Louisville, Kentucky: Inspired by the success of Beale Street’s open container law, Louisville let’s you drink your bourbon street side.
  • Lincoln, Nebraska: In 2013, Lincoln created an entertainment district across from Pinnacle Bank Arena, which concert and event-goers have appreciated for pre- and post-event fun.

Texas also really likes to-go cups, as three cities permit open containers:

Fredericksburg, Arlington, and Forth Worth. Not bad for a state that’s considered conservative in many ways. Yet, Alabama edges Texas out with four pro-drinking-in-the-streets cities: Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile. Technically, East Aurora, New York, and Gulfport, Mississippi both do not have laws against open containers, but drinking on the streets isn’t embraced or publicized much.

 

Other locations turn the other cheek when it comes to open containers, like Key West and other beach towns, but technically, beverage-toting folks are breaking the law. So, if you are searching for a holiday getaway somewhere that embraces their drinking culture, this list is a good place to start.