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May 22, 2009 11:21 AM

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:

            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.