New York leaves no room for alcohol

Drinking alcohol in public? This is not for Americans. Even though they are quite happy to do just that. But they follow certain rules, at least if they want to avoid trouble with law enforcement. Now read and marvel at where and how you can drink alcohol in New York – and what you’d better put out of your mind.

Drinking is heavy in the public consciousness right now. These days in New York is finally on all corners and ends Oktoberfest. This shapes the idea of German culture with beer from Bavaria and Brooklyn, polka from Bavaria and the Czech Republic, lederhosen from Bavaria and Taiwan, and traditional sports like whip-wielding and cornhole. Oh, and before you complain about Cornhole, just because it has an English name: You have that too .

Side note: This contest of throwing bean bags onto a slanted wooden board with a hole in it while the clock is running only crept into my consciousness during this year’s American Oktoberfest season. Finally I understand what makes the cornholio klumauk of “Beavis& Butthead” inspired. “Huh, huh, huh. She’s old”, they would probably say now.

So. But now back to the essentials: Alcohol. You can only drink it in New York if you’re 21 or older, and even then only in designated areas. At home, of course (unless you live in a non-alcoholic community house). And in restaurants that have a liquor license. So inside these restaurants.

No Go: Take your drink outside

Outside the problems start. Smokers notice this very quickly when a horrified bartender yells after them. You can’t just take a drink out of a bar. That’s also something to consider at concerts, for example.

“Open container” is the rule in the vernacular: You can carry around as much beer as you want. But a twist of the crown cork (yes, here they can be untwisted! Unless you get hold of real German beer! Ouch!) or a Zzzzzippp at the can gets you on the side of the outlaws.

That’s why Americans don’t drink outside. So maybe they do, but if a cop sees it, there’s a very sober ticket and a fine of at least 25 dollars. According to New York attorney Robert Briere, in 2010, more than 140.000 people get a summons for drinking in public. Court summons! Schockschwerenot, so it can be earned as a lawyer of course also well.

The fairy tale of beer in a paper bag

For this ban, by the way, it does not matter how the alcohol is now packaged. Contrary to the popular belief of many tourists from distant countries (such as Germany), it is a punishable offense to take a sip from a paper bag containing a beer can or liquor bottle. Well, some half-assed guys in US movies and series just don’t make it legal to look deep into the paper bag. They only hide forbidden activities in a way that makes them all the more suspicious.

Now, however, there are restaurants that serve alcohol and have a few seats outside. Outside! There the lawyer rubs himself however with not at all the hands. With a clear barrier to the foot traffic on the sidewalk, the restaurant owners stick their flag in the ground: Here, this is actually inside with us! And that works.

No alcohol beyond this point – drinking outside in the corral

At music festivals or the fancy flea markets with food miles, this trick sometimes rather leads to an exclusion of the drinkers: They have to buy their drink at extra stands and stay with it like cattle in a corral, kept in check not by cowboys, but by ubiquitous “No alcohol beyond this point” signs.

My imagination dictates that a group of teetotalers finally shows up, politely thanks us for delivering advertising-relevant target groups and hands out brochures. But I have never experienced such a thing.

What I experienced the other day, however, was … how exclusion became my personal VIP area. Actually, we only sat down outside at the little Italian place because it was crowded inside, and when it’s crowded there, it’s crazy loud. Outside he has two narrow tables with metal chairs. Directly in front of us two guys are repairing a moped. Fortunately the electrical parts, the engine doesn’t have to run for that. So all quite cozy.

And then I say “wine” and my companion says “beer”. The waiter in turn says “sorry” as he returns. And attaches a thick red cord to two hooks, wrapping it tightly around us.

Drinking alcohol in New York

The restaurant may only have a few inches from the sidewalk, the waiter explains, and if someone is drinking there, the restaurant space must be “enclosed,” but this very barrier may not take up any space. Not a foot for alcohol.

We are sorely tempted to bum cigarettes and then smoke them without contortions outside – in front of the restaurant – while at the same time drinking inside – behind the cord. So that’s where the term “going overboard” comes from!

Whether that would have been legal, I doubt. By the way, you don’t bum cigarettes in New York either. But that’s another topic.

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