alcohol | KGOU


A photo from the Daily Oklahoman in December 1964 shows a tower atop Byron's liquor store.
Dave Heaton, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection / Oklahoma Historical Society

Byron’s Liquor Warehouse in Oklahoma City has been around since the state legalized alcohol in 1959. Listener Adam Hicks heard the store had a machine gun turret on its roof in its early days. Hicks asked How Curious: Is this true? And if so, why did the business need a gun?

Golfers on the 18th fairway at Trosper Golf Club in Oklahoma City Wednesday.
Mark Hancock / Journal Record

Oklahoma’s sweeping alcohol law changes went into effect Monday. Grocery and convenience stores can now sell cold full strength beer and wine, and liquor stores can stay open later and sell non-alcoholic products like limes and corkscrews.

Roy Lenz, a retired farmer, owns the Brandin’ Iron in Laverne, Oklahoma. His bar is in a dry county, so he can only serve low point beer.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Roy Lenz tidies the bar at the Brandin’ Iron on a Saturday afternoon. His wife, Barbara, fires up the grill, filling the place with the smell of hamburger patties, grilled onions and bacon.

“This place was built back in the late 20s, early 30s, and it’s been a bar from the late 30s, early 40s,” Roy said.

Travelers have drinks at a bar inside Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

Oklahoma’s new alcohol laws take effect in October, but how drinks will be taxed is still up in the air.

State Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, has filed legislation that would eliminate a 13.5 percent tax on full strength beer, wine  and drinks with spirits purchased at restaurants and bars, and replace it with a 6.5 percent alcohol tax at the distribution level.

J.D. Drennan, senior agronomist for 46 Grain Company, stands in front of the grain elevator at Farmers' Elevator Company in Ames, Oklahoma.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma rye harvest gets underway within the next few days. Oklahoma is the country’s number one producer of what is occasionally referred to as the ‘poverty grain.’ Rye doesn’t have the best reputation, but demand is on the rise.

Matteo Paciotti /

Republicans and Democrats spent weeks battling over ways to fill Oklahoma’s budget shortfall. The two parties have found little common ground on tax revenue, but they have been able to agree on some items that could make it easier to toast legislative achievements, or drown their sorrows following a bill’s defeat.


Video Breakdown: State Question 792

Nov 4, 2016

As KGOU and KOSU began crafting ideas for our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged, we were interested in several forms of storytelling. This included informative and in-depth radio stories and video profiles of folks in a south Oklahoma City district.

Dep. Sheriff Red Edgman, Dep. Sheriff Dave Harlan, Sheriff Orin Johnston and Henry Troup break up a still near Purcell, Oklahoma in 1933.
Purman Wilson Collection / Oklahoma Historical Society


Oklahomans are considering some of the biggest changes to the state’s liquor laws since the end of prohibition. If approved, State Question 792 would amend the state constitution and alter a system with roots planted during the days of Indian Territory.

Attorney John Hunsucker stands next to a breath testing machine.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

A court decision earlier this week might keep the state from revoking thousands of driver’s licenses.

Monday's ruling means the outcome of a breathalyzer test that leads to criminal charges can't be used to take away someone's driving privileges, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

Wine bottles in The Spirit Shop in Norman.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

“There he is!” Bryan Kerr said with a laugh, as he greeted a customer at his liquor store in Moore. ”You’re always showing up at exactly the right time.”

The customer navigated through rows of bottles at Moore Liquor, while Kerr slipped outside. He took a few steps to an adjoining storefront to another business he owns: Party Moore.

“A lot of people mistake it for like a Party Galaxy or Party City. It is not that,” Kerr said as he cracked open the store’s door. “It is a party store that is exclusively built for parties that have alcohol in them.”

liquor bottles, alcohol
octal / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Supporters of a state question to update Oklahoma’s alcohol laws and allow wine and strong beer in grocery and convenience stores rolled out their campaign this week.

Yes on 792 chairman Jeff Reasor speaks at a press conference on July 27, 2016. Reasor is the chairman and CEO of Tahlequah-based grocery store chain Reasor’s.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Supporters of a state question that would change Oklahoma’s alcohol laws launched their campaign today Wednesday. The group Yes On 792 is advocating on behalf of a ballot question that would allow convenience stores to sell full strength beer and wine. Liquor stores would be able to sell cold beer.

Greater Oklahoma City Chamber president Roy Williams says alcohol reform would help the state attract and retain young talent.

Jake Cross pours a mixed drink at The Pump Bar at 2425 N. Walker Ave. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

The manager of The Pump Bar near the Paseo Arts District in Oklahoma City was recently arrested for infusing the bar's liquors with other flavors, including bacon, jalapeños, and garlic.

Updated June 27, 11:59 a.m.

According to documents provided by the Oklahoma City Police Department, the municipal code violation that triggered the arrest was Article 5, Section 30-97 as defined in Section 30-96: Maintaining a disorderly house by violation of the state's prohibition laws by the unlawful refill of a liquor bottle.

The referenced state law is found in Title 37, Chapter 3, Section 584:

§37-584.  Refilling container with certain substances prohibited.

No holder of a mixed beverage, beer and wine, caterer, special event, public event or airline/railroad beverage license shall refill with any substance a container which contained any alcoholic beverage on which the tax levied by Section 553 of this title has been paid.

Added by Laws 1985, c. 6, § 98, emerg. eff. March 14, 1985.  Amended by Laws 1994, c. 361, § 23; Laws 2014, c. 298, § 23.

Oklahoma City Police Master Sgt. Gary Knight told The Journal Record that the opened bottles contained bacon, vegetables and pickle juice.

Bottles of wine are displayed on shelves at Market Beverage Co., 204 S. Littler Ave. in Edmond.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

It’s been a week since the end of one of the most contentious legislative sessions in recent memory, and attention is now starting to turn to elections this summer and fall in Oklahoma.

beer bottles
ThreeIfByBike / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Oklahomans will have a chance to vote on expanding the state’s liquor laws this November.

State representatives approved Senate Joint Resolution 68 and its counterpart Senate Bill 383 on Thursday. The bill provides a new outline allowing full-strength, chilled beer to be sold in grocery and convenience stores and would require clerks who sell alcohol to be at least 18-years-old should voters approve a state question this fall.

beer bottles
Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

The state is a step closer to changing its alcohol laws after the Senate approved a joint resolution that would allow voters to decide if grocery and convenience stores can sell wine and strong beer.

On a 30-14 vote, the chamber sent Senate Joint Resolution 68 to the House for consideration.

beer glasses
dr. coop / Flickr (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Money is starting to flow as Oklahoma looks at changing its liquor laws.

Groups tied to the state's alcohol industry contributed nearly $70,000 to candidates and legislators in the first quarter.

State Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, received a combined $1,750 from the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma PAC and the Oklahoma Beverage Employees PAC, The Journal Record’s Molly Fleming reports:

beer bottles
ThreeIfByBike / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Oklahoma Supreme Court invalidated an initiative petition Tuesday morning that would’ve let voters decide whether or not to allow wine and strong beer in grocery stores.

The Oklahoma Grocers Association filed its protest against the petition that would’ve put State Question 785 on the ballot this fall, arguing it was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority, and that the language was insufficient and misleading.

State Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, speaks at a news conference in Oklahoma City, April 30, 2013.
Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

The Oklahoma lawmaker widely criticized for his remarks last week that many viewed as disparaging to Native Americans has apologized.

State Rep. Todd Russ said during a floor speech Thursday that Native Americans are "predisposed to alcoholism."

A bartender pours a glass of wine at Cafe 501 in Edmond.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Oklahoma’s $1.3 billion budget shortfall has dominated news coverage of the 2016 legislative session, but one of the bills the public is most interested in is a proposal to overhaul the state’s alcohol laws.