Should your neighborhood restaurant be allowed to serve cocktails?

We'll serve you this drink, but first we gotta pop by the state legislature.

We'll serve you this drink, but first we gotta pop by the state legislature. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sunday morning bloody Mary. Happy hour nip of Scotch. A late-night fruity daiquiri because it's been a hard week, okay?

At various neighborhood haunts across Minneapolis, none of these boozy delights is available to you, thanks to an antiquated Minneapolis city charter rule that only grants hard liquor licenses to establishments within a certain geographical range.

What's geography got to do, got to do with it?

According to a sweet old-fashioned notion known as the "seven-acre rule," restaurants outside of downtown Minneapolis must lie within a stretch of seven contiguous commercial districts in order to serve hard alcohol.

But, wait, your favorite restaurant is tucked away in a neighborhood and they've been serving you booze for years! That's because you're very special... and also because its owners went through the onerous and lengthy process of getting an exemption from the state legislature.

This is how we wound up with a cocktail menu at Nighthawks in south Minneapolis, but only sake and beer at Kyatchi across the street; with some of the town's best liquor drinks at Martina in Linden Hills, but only wine and beer at the beloved Tilia nearby. Remember when Tinto was slinging tacos and margs on Lake Street? When they relocated to 54th and Penn in south Minneapolis, they had to seek that legislative exemption to continue serving tequila. 

If this rigmarole seems unnecessary, you've got a chance to nix the "seven-acre rule" from the Minneapolis city charter. On November 6, the ballot that includes the highest offices in the state will also ask you the following question:

Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove from the City Charter the area and spacing requirements pertaining to liquor licenses?

If you want all restaurants in Minneapolis, regardless of location, to have the ability to serve cocktails, vote yes. If you like things the way they are, vote no.

Matt Perry, a member of the city Charter Commission and president of the Southwest Business Association, introduced the ballot measure in June and has led the "Yes on 1" campaign. He believes most people don't have a problem with granting liquor licenses to neighborhood restaurants. These businesses would still have to go through the standard process of applying for a liquor license and would still be required to have a kitchen with a full menu and make a “substantial amount of income from food sales.”

His biggest concern is ensuring voters know to expect the question on their ballots and understand what a "yes" or "no" vote means.

Consider yourself informed: "Yes" means more cocktails; "no" means more Prohibition-era red tape for local restaurants. See you at the ballot box.