Evanston aldermen — who just last fall eliminated the distiction between different types of liquor in licensing restaurants to serve alcohol — may be about to rethink that.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, in discussion Monday night about a liquor license request from DMK Burger & Fish, said she thought the city should have more differentiation in its ordinances to permit only beer and wine at some restaurants, while allowing the serving of all types of alcohol at others.

Aldermen took extra time last fall to review the plan to simplify the liquor code before finally approving it on Oct. 14. But Rainey indicated Monday night that she hadn’t realized the new code eliminated the distinction between just beer and wine and all-liquor licenses for restaurants.

And some other aldermen seemed confused that, while DMK’s owners said they only wanted to serve beer, the license they were applying for would authorize serving all types of liquor — when in reality the new code gave them no choice but to apply for an all-liquor license if they were going to be able to serve beer.

So, does the type of booze matter?

Sure, everybody knows that beer and wine and distilled beverages taste different and that their alcohol content by volume varies, requiring different serving sizes.

But does the type of liquor consumed result in a different level of undesirable behavior by consumers that suggests local governments should employ different rules regulating their sale?

A quick online search turned up lots of evidence that societies around the world assign different significance to different types of liquor — but didn’t find evidence that consumption of one type of booze is more likely to lead to brawls or other anti-social behavior than consumption of another.

So, what do you think? Is there good reason to regulate restaurant sales of beer and wine differently than restaurant sales of hard liquor?

And is your view based on research you can cite, or just your personal opinion?

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Setting a bad example

    My opinion (not via research) is that alcohol does vary by type and the granting of licenses for beer and wine should have a different threshhold than for all types of alcohol.

    And, I certainly feel that it is setting a bad example to allow a gas station to sell beer – which came up at a recent meeting.

  2. Differences

    Not sure why there is a distinction, but arguments should be made on something other than intoxication. If people believe one type of alcohol makes someone intoxicated quicker than another, that is not really true.

    Intoxication is defined by levels of alcohol in your blood, and that has so much more to do with the factors of weight, gender, quantity consumed, and the time frame it was consumed in.  It's not ABV, alcohol by volume, but BAC, blood alcohol concentration.

    A male weighing 225 lbs, can drink 3 beers or 3 shots, doesn't matter which, in one hour, and the alcohol level would register approximately .037 either way, less than half the legally defined intoxication level of .08

    A female weighing 150 lbs drinking the same thing in the same time period will have an alcohol level of around .075, putting her right at the line of legal intoxication.  She is impaired, the heavier person is not, whether beer or spirits were consumed has no bearing.

    I'm not necessarily objecting to the distinctions in license, but because alcohol by volume between beer & spirits is such a basically irrelevant factor in the intoxication formula, the making of a license distinction should be based on something other than ABV.

    Also, beverages are changing, a lot of craft beer has very high abv and the trend is rising, while other spirits are being produced with smaller abv content, distinction by abv could become less defined with time.

    Finally, restaurants have a responsibility to not overserve, whether someone was drinking beer or spirits is completely irrelevant, blood alcohol levels are the only thing thats relevant.

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