Food

The Weirdest Drinking Laws from Around the World  

Mike Rothschild
3.9k votes 803 voters 68.6k views 28 items

Weird laws about drinking are a worldwide phenomenon: international alcohol laws are sometimes pretty out there and America has some truly strange regulations on the books as well. Alcohol laws from around the world can govern anything from how much wine a married woman can drink (one glass only in La Paz, Bolivia!) to penalties for DUI, and importing wine from province to province. Many are arcane, and others barely enforced, but if you're going out of the country, you'll want to do a quick check for their drinking laws.

In the US, you might want to do the same thing. Planning on a happy hour out of state? Better check if it's legal. Smitten with your bartender in Nebraska? Hanky panky with them is out of the question. Want to buy pretty much any alcohol in Pennsylvania? You'd better have a copy of the civil code with you, because it's insanely complex.

Some of these weird drinking laws and funny laws about alcohol are just plain silly, others are well-intentioned, and some are just relics of a bygone era.
1
You Can't Chug a Beer in Texas While Standing
A long-forgotten law in Texas says it's illegal to take more than three sips of beer at one time while standing. Needless to say, this a difficult law to enforce.
Is this weird?
2
Utah Restaurants Pour Drinks Behind a Curtain
Mormon-dominated Utah has long had complicated liquor laws. In fact, until 2009, bars had to operate as private clubs that charged membership fees. Those laws were repealed, but restaurants now have to pour drinks behind an opaque pane of glass, so as to not tempt teetotalers and children. These so-called "Zion curtains" can be seen in any restaurant opened recently.
Is this weird?
3
Wearing Underwear Under That Kilt? Two Beers!
A law supposedly on the books in Scotland says that any Scottish gentleman found to be wearing underwear under his kilt will be fined two beers. It's likely that this law doesn't actually exist, and if it does, it's never been enforced.
Is this weird?
4
Pennsylvania's Drinking Laws Are a Mess

If you want to throw a party in the Keystone State, get ready to work for it. The state has both state-run liquor stores called "Fine Wine and Good Spirits" and privately owned beer stores (distributors). You can't get one at the other. Wine and liquor prices must remain the same everywhere in the state, and while wine can be bought in winery storefronts, it can't be bought in supermarkets.

When you go to the beer distributor you can only buy kegs or cases, not six-packs or large bottles. To get smaller quantities, you have to go to a bar, bottle shop or grocery store - but only those with a special license, and only in separated areas with seating. You can’t buy more than 192 ounces of beer at a bar or bottle shop, and each type of store has very particular hours and days they're open. It wasn't until the governor pleaded with the Liquor Control Board to "free the six-pack" that gas stations were allowed to sell beer - but only nine.
Is this weird?