Can’t A Girl Just Have A Drink?

21.August 2010

Our Journey

I want to throw a little party, show some slides, have a beer with my friends.

My house isn’t big enough (I’m blessed with enough friends to say this) so I need to rent a hall.

In order to have beer available I need a liquor license.

In order to get a liquor license I need to have a special certificate showing that I know how to serve liquor.

In order to get the certificate I need to take a course, pass a test, and pay $25.

The liquor license also must be approved by the police station…who also charge me $25 to sign it. Sheesh!

Good job I didn’t want to serve my favorite Gin and Tonic with Victoria Spirits Bitters because that is a whole other kettle of fish…separate license…separate approval…separate craziness!

I could have put up a sheet on the side of my house to show the slide show, thrown a couple of coolers of beer in the corner of the yard, cranked the music and invited all of my friends over and no one would give a sh*t but because I want to rent a small room to be inside I have to go through all of this palaver.

I find Canadian liquor laws to be archaic. I have thought this for a long time but since returning from travel the rules have really irked me and now, with this, I am just left wondering…why?

In Germany we embarked on an all day hike up The Brocken. As we enjoyed the hike and thought back to the time when Russian soldiers would protect this border between east and west Germany, we worked up a thirst. Lo and behold, a ranger station came into view. A cute, little wooden shack with a few picnic tables and a couple of shady trees…a perfect place to enjoy a packed lunch. Inside, a friendly man served wurst and beer…German beer to boot which, as you may or may not know, is my favorite beer. That’s what I call civilized.

Lunch At The Ranger Station

When marchers had finished their part in the Inti Raymi Festival Parade in Cusco, Peru they pulled up a section of the public square and got their drink on. Thousands and thousands and thousands of Peruvians enjoying food and drink and music and friends – partying the night away with nary a bad attitude or fight to be seen. It was an amazing display of cultural pride and community and a rockin’ good party besides!

Partying Into The Night

Bia hoi may not be the best beer in the world…but it might just be the cheapest. At 25 cents a glass the bia hoi joints on the corners of Hanoi’s Old Quarter get pretty busy at the end of the work day. We pulled up a low plastic stool, indicated our order to the attendant, and watched as all around us the city changed from day into night. No food was served but a steady parade of vendors stopped by making sure we were well and full before the evening was out. I miss Hanoi.

Fresh Beer Shop, Hanoi

Here in Canada I cannot have a drink in public. It is against the law to have a beer at the beach or to enjoy a glass of wine at a picnic. Want to kick back and enjoy a beer at the campground? Nope, not on certain long weekends…no beer allowed. Not even responsible, of-age, grown up people. No-one. Want to slake that thirst and celebrate an epic mountain bike ride? Better bring along the Coca Cola Coozie to disguise it or risk being taken downtown. Makes me feel like I’m 15 again…which wouldn’t be so bad except that I didn’t particularly like being 15 the first time around.

Why all the rules? For fear that we might enjoy ourselves, get out of control, set a bad example for impressionable young minds? I assure you that me enjoying a cold one on the beach is no more a bad example than the acrid whiffs of marijuana smoke that waft over almost every public place in BC.

I not a raging alcoholic (and really, so what if I was?), I just want to enjoy a drink with my friends and show a couple of slides from my trip.

On the up-side, I revisited the liquor license folk and asked some better, more refined questions. We will now be celebrating a birthday party as I don’t need the special serving certificate in this case. Happy (very early) birthday to me!

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9 Responses to “Can’t A Girl Just Have A Drink?”

  1. Dirk Says:

    You should try get a license for a restaurant! The process is unbelievably onerous, and at some junctions, makes no practical sense, even to those involved in managing it. Bureaucracy for bureaucracies sake. I feel your pain sister.

  2. michelle Says:

    For sure. I think it’s ridiculous that I can’t have a beer at the beach with a friend while enjoying the sun and outdoors. I feel like a criminal if I do crack one and surreptitiously put it in a coffee cup. Hmph.

    But it’s okay to sexualize young kids by showing very explicit music videos. And it’s okay to smoke outdoors. And it’s okay to drown our kids in overprocessed foods. But me having a beer outside is going to ruin society?

    I understand the need to preserve societal peace – by let’s allow drinking and then go after the folks who disturb our peace with unruly behaviour – whether it’s beer induced or not. Odds are, the police would see no more action than there currently is.

    Can I come to your ‘birthday party’? : )

  3. kevin Says:

    So getting older means you can celebrate more often and it is OK with big brother. Happy birthday to us. They can’t keep track of where we live or what our birth dates are anyways so it is a loop hole for us.
    Cheers

  4. Asa Says:

    Here in Massachusetts you can’t buy beer or wine except in licensed liquor stores (called package stores or “packies”). There are plenty of them around, but it’s annoying that you can’t grab a six-pack of beer to go with your other stuff at the grocery store and instead need to stop at a second place. Although at least they’re open on Sundays now. Apparently, up until a few years ago you couldn’t buy ANY beer, wine or liquor on Sundays in Mass. So there’s some progress, I suppose…Happy Birthday, by the way. Wish we were close enough to come to your party!

  5. Eva Rees Says:

    You know, its funny. We traveled all over the world and saw all these freedoms people live with, and risks they manage. We witnessed many of the same things you did, like blocks full of party people without a shout of violence all night.

    & then when we start traveling around N. America — suddenly we can’t do this, or that is strictly regulated, move along now, special fees apply. In the US’ case, aren’t we supposed to be “The Land of the Free?” I’ve been more incredulous at laws here that anywhere else in the world!

    Sometimes, I have to agree that people around seem a little ill-prepared at making choices to protect their best interests, but regardless, we should all be able to manage our own needs — people should be capable of their own risk assessment, or frankly, they shouldn’t be in the gene pool. And especially for something like beer & liquor. Aren’t there better things to worry about?!

  6. eric Says:

    Would they still require that “special” liquor license if it was BYO, is it just because of name of the event? Don’t get me started on the government oppressiveness that happens in our so called “land of the free.” I think you know how I feel about it and could go on for days. Glad you found a way around it….sorry I don’t live closer. Happy Birthday!!!!!

  7. Sheri Says:

    Haha! Awesome post! LOVE this one! you make some very awesome points, ones we should all probably look at a little closer. I bet we are the only country to that drinks and makes complete jerks out of ourselves with speech and fights. Enjoy your party…..wish I could be there :( And a very early happy birthday to you!!!! haha

    • Gillian Says:

      You’re ALL invited!! I wish you could all come. We’ll show them and have a good time despite their draconian laws!

  8. Dom Says:

    Here in Canada I cannot have a drink in public. It is against the law to have a beer at the beach or to enjoy a glass of wine at a picnic. Want to kick back and enjoy a beer at the campground? Nope, not on certain long weekends…no beer allowed. >>>this is absolutely terrible!! And I mean TERRIBLE!! Can you have a glass of wine though? Because a glass of wine is the most intelligent option for this, topped with a slice of cheese!
    Dom recently posted..Red Wine and Chicken Gratin with Gruyere: For An Excellent Meal