The Restrictive, The Odd, The Goofy; A Look At Local Liquor Laws In Illinois

In Beer News by Ryan

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“Written with the authority of someone thoroughly steeped in the local scene.”

Did you know that one village in southern Illinois only allows BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) if it’s brought to a house party? Or that one suburban Chicago village prohibits bottle service? And then there’s the small village well northwest of Chicago that only allows alcohol to be served when, “complete meals are served at tables.”

Those bizarre local liquor laws in Illinois and hundreds of others were revealed recently when the state’s Liquor Control Commission posted a series of surveys online. The surveys asked questions about what kind of liquor sales were allowed, the hours of sales, aged related ordinances and miscellaneous laws and restrictions.

80-percent of the 1,200 cities, counties, towns and villages that were sent surveys responded and there responses were, shall we say, enlightening.

The first interesting tidbit we gleamed from the surveys; out of all the respondents over 100 of them are dry – meaning no booze is sold. Even more interesting is that some communities allow alcohol to be sold but don’t have anyone selling it or, in the case of a convenience store in Joppa, they have a liquor license but don’t stock liquor.

photo courtesy Ambig

For you entrepreneurs interested in setting up shop with no competition for alcohol sales look no further than Hartsburg, Bardolph, Bently, Mason, Standard City or Tower Lakes.

If you like to do your drinking in public you’ll have to cozy up to the mayor of Chester to do so. They allow public consumption but only with, “special permission from the mayor.” Now, we’re sure this means for special events but we can’t help but wonder if anyone has ever called the mayor’s office requesting special dispensation to take a road sodie on his way to the barbershop.

Red Bud Sign FinalIn the same vein, you’re allowed to BYOB to parks in Red Bud but in Okawville you can bring your own “only to home parties.” We’re sure the host is appreciative.

Enough of what you can do: how about what you can’t?

If you like a beer or two with your NFL football and tend to procrastinate, the cities of Carmi or Freeport may not be for you. They don’t allow alcohol sales on Sundays.

Christian County doesn’t allow off-premise sales for consumption. Neither does Inverness. You can buy beer and liquor to take home in Morton Grove but be sure to smile when you do, because every off-premise sale is required to be videotaped.

Downers Grove forbids bottle service. Sorry, Bobby.

Elmwood Park prohibits “fashion shows” at their drinking establishments. (Note: Having been to a couple bars where “fashion show” is not-so-subtle code for “strippers,” this kinda makes sense.)

And Saint Peter (yes, it’s a town) says live entertainment is a no-no.

You can’t buy booze when you fill up your gas tank in the city of Warrenville. Same goes for Wheeling. Oh, and they don’t allow drive-thru liquor stores either.

photo courtesy the Daily Herald

photo courtesy the Daily Herald

If a bowl of stale pretzels is all you need to go with your beer, then perhaps steer clear of Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Palos Heights, Riverside and Winnetka where bars and taverns are not allowed. Liquor stores are also off-limits in Winnetka.

And in Wilmette and Third Lake alcohol can only be served with food, with Third Lake stipulating that, “alcohol may be served when complete meals are served at tables.” Sorry, tapas lovers, you’re out of luck in Third Lake.

If you want your brewskis straight from the cooler, then you may have to hunt around in Danvers, where a special permit is required to sell cold beer.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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