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.

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!


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.


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!