A Cocktail to Go

Article excerpt

The French Quarter in New Orleans has long enjoyed its status as one of the country's most famous tourist meccas. It's a place where people can take their alcoholic beverages "to go," stroll outdoors, and enjoy the area's colorful sights and sounds with a few sips. Only a few places in the country, including Kansas City's trendy Power & Light District, allow "open containers," but that may be starting to change.

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Taking note of how this allowance attracts tourists and locals alike, lawmakers in Alabama, Colorado and Nebraska recently enacted legislation to allow similar "common consumption areas."

The Colorado law, passed in 2011, allows cities and towns to create entertainment districts where associations can set up areas for drinking alcohol, as long as they are closed off from traffic and have limited pedestrian entrances. The associations must include two or more people who own or lease property within the entertainment district, and they must organize and promote the activities within the common consumption areas.

These entertainment districts receive special licenses and must contain a tavern, brewpub, retail gaming tavern, vintner's restaurant or a hotel with a restaurant. Drink containers are limited to 16 ounces and must have the vendor's name printed on the side in at least 24-point font. Requiring vendors' names or logos on to-go cups is designed to keep vendors vigilant about making sure alcohol does not end up in minors' hands. …