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Public consumption of alcohol: any place where this is allowed (ie with a picnic, etc.)

Boston, while a wonderful city, is no Paris or Tokyo. Given that the public consumption of alcohol, even with the utmost decorum and discretion, is generally illegal in Beantown, are there any "picnic zones" where you can freely uncork a bottle amongst friends and have a civilized picnic without having to hide it? Very curious. I would so love it if this were possible.


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  1. I'll say! Within city limits, Tokyo has 8M people, Paris 2.2M, Boston 600K. We're not really in that global-city league in a lot of ways. Our subway is especially sad by comparison.

    I think the answer to your question is no. I have surreptitiously packed wine for picnics in public parks, and brought a thermos of bourbon and cider into college football games, etc., but I'm pretty sure that both Massachusetts state law and local Boston ordinances prohibit open containers of alcohol anywhere in public and in motor vehicles.


    10 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Right. It's not allowed, which has had me considering a move to Virginia more than a couple of times. :-)

      Having said that, if you are discreet (as MC notes), you can probably get away with it (though you didn't hear it here). Hollowed-out ski poles, bar-noculars, and beer can wraps are all pretty hot sellers in the commonwealth.

      1. re: hiddenboston

        I was thinking a really big gaudy sunhat could be worn over one of those baseball hats that hold two beers... LOL No worries, was just wondering if the republic of cambridge or some other local place had a "zone".

        Yes, discretion or abstinence then.

        I made mention of Paris and Tokyo because they are places where I have enjoyed very civilized outings with a nice bottle of such and such to compliment a meal, and it was delightful. Alas.

        I hear you about the T, especially after yesterday's power outage debacle, but thank our lucky stars that we have generally excellent public transit when you compare our system to most other american cities. Anyway, off the soapbox and onto the weekend! Cheers!

        1. re: Jardinia

          Other options: the Wine Rack and the Beerbelly, respectively a bra and a false stomach with hidden beverage storage: http://www.thebeerbelly.com/The_Beerb...


            1. re: justbeingpolite

              Holds 25 oz, i.e., one bottle. "Design optimized for smaller cup sizes."


          1. re: hiddenboston

            Drinking alcohol in public is also illegal in Virginia. In fact, restaurants with outdoor cafes must have their patios fenced off in some way in order for them to be able to serve alcohol outdoors. Sometimes it's a simple wire between two posts. But if you step over that wire with a drink in your hand - look out!

            1. re: mojoeater

              thanks, mojoeater. i looked in the va. code, (but not too carefully).

              1. re: mojoeater

                Oh, oops, I guess I didn't know the actual law in VA (and my friend who often walks from house to house around his neighborhood with a wine glass in his hand apparently doesn't, either).

              2. re: hiddenboston

                Back in the day, way back, I wanted to have a beer and a whopper so, I brought two cans in a bag with me, made that whopper taste fab. It's like smoking in the bathroom, in High School, and not getting caught, an elating feeling.

            2. What a shame. In the UK we can drink in any public place, except where it is specifically prohibited (usually town centre "trouble spots")

              1. There are some nice spots in the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain where a couple or small group can have a quiet, discreet picnic with a nip of the grape without being hassled. Discreet is the operative word.
                It's a shame that there are not more venues like the Denver Botanic Gardens, that sponsors a summer concert series at it's amphitheater, and civilized guests set up elaborate buffets of shellfish, wines, pates, and good eats. I watched Shawn Colvin from about 30 feet with a nice Reisling to offset my spicy shrimp. Red Rocks amphitheater in Morrison, on the other hand, is owned by the city of Denver, and no liquor is permitted other than the beer they sell. But one can bring food. It is bench seating, and I would often buy a ticket for my food spread. And I became a very adept smuggler of the grape when draft beer was out of character.

                1. I guess our drive thru daiquiri shops would freak you guys out!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chef4hire

                    I think everyone has an opinion about New Orleans.

                    1. re: chef4hire

                      I actually had to drive my kids through a Daiquiri shop and buy them some before they would believe me!
                      Fortunately, it was Two-for-One Day. At least on the single sizes, not on the party buckets.

                      They have to put a lid on them when you drive away from the window. That doesn't last long.

                    2. Tanglewood is the only place I can think of:

                      I haven't been in over 10years, but back then it wasn't disceet. People would have candelabras set up, crystal glasses, flowers etc spread out all over the place on the lawn. There were also people with their jug wine and paper cups.

                      This was always I think at the pre program part of the music. They couldn't bring it into the shell.

                      Don't know if this still allowed or not.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hummingbird

                        Well in that case then I'd think a lot of outdoors music venues allow this. I know for sure the Hollywood Bowl allows this, as lots of people picnic before the concerts with food and wine.

                      2. Isn't this allowed in the French Quarter, New Orleans?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: PeterL

                          The original discussion was about Boston, MA. In general, there are spots everywhere where police look the other way, depending on how well-behaved the crowd generally is. At Tanglewood (an outdoor performance venue in Western MA), I suspect they're lax in enforcing it because it's not a brawling type of crowd that goes to see the Boston Pops *sur la herbe*.

                          I'm not sure how fans at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA are allowed to tailgate with alcohol, perhaps because the parking lots are private property. They're the drunkest fans filing into a game I've seen locally, right up there with UK football fans. Two thirds of the crowd seems absolutely stinko before the opening kickoff. (Probably true at many NFL venues.)

                          Having an open container of alcohol is illegal in most of the US by state statute. Only a handful of states have no open container law: GA, LA, VA, MO, MT, NV, and PA. Even in those states, many local ordinances outlaw it. Some towns that allow open containers: Butte, MT; parts of Kansas City, MO; Las Vegas (only on The Strip); the entire city of New Orleans (not just the French Quarter); parts of Savannah, GA.


                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            "Having an open container of alcohol is illegal in most of the US by state statute"

                            WOW! That's truly awful. I doubt whether many of we Europeans could get our heads round that concept. Is there a particular sociological reason for such laws?

                            By the way, one of the few places that you can't drink alcohol in the UK is at a football match - doesn't stop folk getting pissed out of their heads before and after.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              I'm not sure it is state bylaw or town bylaw. There is at least one town in Massachusetts, (Buckland, MA) that allows open containers in public. I don't know if there are others, but I am positive that it is legal in Buckland. Buckland is the other side of the river in Shelburne Falls, which is actually comprised of two towns.

                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                Downtown Las Vegas also allows open container consumption of alcohol.

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  Really, PA doesn't? Maybe they make up for it by "zoning" laws. For a German like myself, the idea of any outdoor festivity is closely connected with beer. It's in our blood.

                                  When my man and I returned from our annual summer stay in Berlin last year, we had the chance to experience the local Art's Fest. We thought it was all really nice & were glad to finally be around for it, but soon we realized something was missing: the caipirinha / beer / what-have-you stands that are abundant at European street festivals....

                                  You can have a frat house 20 ft. away from the street with beer bongs and kegs abound, while (presumably) sensible adults are walking around thirsty. Can't have adults drinking. No way.

                                  The U.S. just has a very _different_ way of dealing with booze -- a much higher drinking age, the whole 'open container' thing, etc. etc.

                                  That's why young kids all over the U.S. hardly drink any alcohol, let alone ever overindulge or binge-drink. It's magical '-D

                                1. re: duck833

                                  So true. I feel so clumsy and gangly stumbling around public places, clutching a quart of my daily buttermilk. Bless those red cups.

                                  1. re: duck833

                                    Depends on your town. Around here drinking from a red cup is equivalent to wearing a sign that says "bust me."

                                    1. re: mpjmph

                                      True, many law enforcement officials are by now wise to the red cup ruse. But you can throw them off the scent with the blue ones.

                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                        Disposable plastic "roadie" or picnic cups, that hold about 14 oz. Red is ubiquitous.

                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                            Haven't you ever been to a kegger?

                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                I had never heard the expression "red cups."
                                                We had clear thin plastic ones back in the day.
                                                There was an old bar, The Big Train, on Tulane Avenue across from the Dixie Brewery in New Orleans that local lore credited with starting the tradition of go-cups. Nick Castrogiovanni got sick of everybody stealing his distinctive cocktail glasses so he put stacks of plastic cups by the door and it became exceedingly bad form to swipe his glasses. You transferred your cocktail on the way out.
                                                Great watering hole that leaned at about a 20 degree angle after Hurricane Besty hit Louisiana in 1965 but beloved by all of us.
                                                Go-cups back then were all clear, including the ones at bars and fraternity parties.

                                                You guys are living large with these colored fancy cups. The ones at the local bullet-proof plexiglass liquor stores in DC are all clear plastic. The singles are in the ice cooler, pre-loaded with ice, covered with plastic wrap. Get your favorite "poison" and your cup of ice and you're ready to hit the nearest alley or park bench. The city is trying their best to shut this one down.

                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                  When we moved to the Raleigh area in 2003 and used the term Go-Cup friends asked Go-What???? Thanks for telling us about The Big Train. I understand NOLA go-cups are plastic because of the potential danger from broken glass containers or maybe danger of an unbroken one crashing into someone's head, but it's been more than a few years since I stumbled out of Pat's with a plastic cup in one hand and a souvenir glass inside a box in my other hand.

                                                  Speaking of DC - a friend years ago worked in IT for a liquor distributor and swore that he could track crack sales because they correlated so well with sales of PGA, Pure Grain Alcohol or EverClear.

                                                  1. re: AreBe

                                                    It was only within the last decade or so that NOLA passed an ordinance forbidding glass containers outside. We used to carry those Hurricane glasses right out of Pat O'Brien's and lots of places sold their drinks in distinctive glasses. Or we just stole them. Or carried away the long-neck beer bottles. Most places factored the loss into their prices.
                                                    The broken glass got to be a serious public safety issue. Go-cups are a good thing.

                                                    I live in a DC neighborhood that's been "gentrifying" for decades. I wondered for years about why corner stores stocked so many Chore Boy scouring pads. Had no idea it was used for smoking crack. I thought everyone was into housecleaning or car detailing. Silly me.
                                                    The latest is the kids buying single cigars to hollow out and fill with marijuana. They've passed some kind of new laws on that one too.
                                                    Life in the city is a constant learning experience. Just keeping up with the kids. Sheesh.

                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                      "The latest is the kids buying single cigars to hollow out and fill with marijuana."

                                                      They're called blunts after the cigar of the same name and people have been doing it for at least 20 years. Nothing new. They aren't hollowed out but rather split open with a razor and the tobacco is either entirely replaced or mixed with marijuana and then rerolled and smoked.

                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                        The new regs won't halt that. It's aimed at 10 and 12 year olds. So far, it's working. Pretty much. At least, it's made it harder for them.

                                            1. Breaux Bridge, LA the last time I was down that way.

                                              1. The old brown paper bag always seems to work in certain areas!!!

                                                1. I used to have several wrap around things that would go around a can of beer and make it look like a Coke or something :)

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: duck833

                                                    yep, they are still around, might order some new ones:


                                                    1. re: duck833

                                                      O. M. G. It's like you have to hide some illegal substance.... ridiculous.

                                                  2. I find that white wine in Apple Juice containers and red wine in cranberry juice ones is a pretty good disguise.

                                                    1. I have drank wine on many occasions in Titus Sparrow Park in the south end ( they have a summer concert series).