August 23, 2016 |
EXCITED ABOUT new state statutes on wine and spirits in Penn's Woods? I know I am. We're starting to shed our reputation as the Prohibition State. We no longer have bland, boring State Stores. Now they're Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores. They're getting new flexible hours and pricing, making it easier for you to get your drink on. And these changes and others, given our political season, come none too soon. It's all thanks to your Rip Van Winkle Legislature, which, after eight decades, awoke to realize folks like to drink, and buying booze when you choose falls for many under their constitutional right to their pursuit of happiness.
July 22, 2016 |
HOW'S THIS for a head-scratcher: Apparently, out-of-state politicians and activists can be trusted to drink responsibly, but your average Philadelphian can't. For years, our state has endured some of the nation's most needlessly restrictive alcohol regulations, yet well-connected visitors to the Democratic National Convention next week will get special exceptions. State legislators in Harrisburg have implemented temporary "national event permits" for the duration of the convention, allowing select Philadelphia venues to sell alcohol later than 2 a.m., provide happy hour specials, and purchase their stock outside of state stores.
June 14, 2016 |
The prospect of being able to buy wine in supermarkets captured much of the public attention last week when Gov. Wolf signed Pennsylvania's most significant liquor reform bill since Prohibition. But for the state's most devoted wine lovers, a much bigger deal is the adoption of direct-to-consumer shipping from winemakers nationwide - putting Pennsylvania in line with 43 other states that give residents access to wine clubs from obscure West Coast wineries. Jeremy Benson, executive director of Free the Grapes!
June 13, 2016 |
All things considered, it was just another Tuesday night in the City of Brotherly Love. It was Dec. 6, 1933: Repeal Day, the end of Prohibition, and Philadelphians weren't taking to the streets to celebrate. They were just casually doing what they had been doing for the last 14 years: getting their drink on. "Of course, no one who really wanted a drink at any time during the past 14 years was compelled to deny his thirst," the Inquirer reported on that day. The collective shrug at the historic repeal is surprising to me, considering that Philadelphians don't need much motivation to party.
May 21, 2016
Democrats have defended Pennsylvania's Precambrian government liquor monopoly at least as fervently as they've supported public schools and collective bargaining. Even Gov. Wolf, an accomplished capitalist and scholar, has signed on to this statist folly, fending off Republican enemies of the whiskey ministry even as his first big budget went down the drain like so much Prohibition-era moonshine. For the commonwealth's Democrats, it's an article of faith that if you're in Pennsylvania, no matter who you are or how much you like it, you will buy your wine and spirits from the State Stores - no exceptions.
May 18, 2016 |
HARRISBURG - All work and no play a dull political convention make. Few understand that better than state legislators, who on Monday took the first step to grant Philadelphia-area hotels, restaurants, bars, and other venues hosting events for the Democratic National Convention what amounts to a four-day reprieve from Pennsylvania's stringent - some say antiquated - liquor laws. A bill that passed a key Senate committee would allow those businesses to apply for a special permit to extend serving hours past the current 2 a.m. last call.
August 4, 2015 |
The quiet Red Lantern Tavern in Glenolden is no stranger to patrons from outside the one-square- mile borough: On a typical night, manager Bob Simone sees clientele trickle in from nearly every nearby Delaware County town. Some meet friends. Others stop by to chat with Simone. But a vast, distinctive group of customers - nearly 1 in 4, Simone estimates - flocks to his local watering hole because they have no other choice. They live in Sharon Hill, and they want a drink. For decades, Sharon Hill locals wanting to buy alcohol have been confronted with only two options: Buy a drink elsewhere or don't drink at all. Their borough is completely dry. No bars.
January 6, 2015
POPE FRANCIS is due in Philly in September. I wish he were due in Harrisburg tomorrow. That's when the Legislature comes to the Capitol to be sworn in for a new two-year term. And you remember how His Papalness last month peppered the Curia, those running the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church? Well, I wish he'd bestow the same sort of "blessing" on those who run our state government. Somebody should. And he or she can use the pope's outline. If you missed it, Francis lambasted church leaders for, among other things, vanity, selfishness and the "pathology of power.
August 23, 2014 |
The lawyer who peddled fine wines from his Main Line home made out with probation and community service. His wine might not fare as well. Police want to destroy the 2,426 bottles they seized in January from Arthur Goldman's Malvern home, the typical fate for bootleg booze. But this collection is not a typical bounty. It's far more valuable. Goldman is fighting to keep it, and wine enthusiasts say the thought of its being dumped is hard to swallow, an example of how Pennsylvania's antiquated liquor laws frustrate connoisseurs and seed a black market for alcohol unavailable in state stores.