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By Janie Har September 13, 2012

Are there daiquiri drive-thrus in Louisiana?

Oregon is a control state. Not only does the state regulate the consumption of all alcohol, but the state buys, stores and sells distilled spirits to retailers and consumers.

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That may change, with rumblings Thursday of a citizens’ initiative to loosen our uptight liquor laws if lawmakers don’t in 2013. Some legislators appeared reluctant to follow Washington state in privatizing liquor sales, as reported in a three-part series published in The Oregonian this week. State Rep. Bill Kennemer told a reporter: "We just don't want to get to be like Louisiana, where you have drive-up daiquiri shops."

PolitiFact Oregon wondered if perhaps Kennemer had first-hand knowledge to back up his bold statement. Because anyone who’s grown up on the West Coast and has not traveled to the South knows there’s no such thing as ordering a cocktail to go, especially from behind the wheel. (PolitiFact Oregon knows someone who knows someone who tried to order a takeaway gin-and-tonic from a San Francisco bar but was rejected, even though the person was on foot!)

It turns out, Kennemer did have direct knowledge.

In an interview, he explained he was driving around the New Orleans area with his wife, Cherie, one recent summer and they kept spotting these signs for daiquiris. The signs were attached to buildings with drive-thru windows. Blended frozen daiquiris are made with rum, lime juice and sweetener and have the consistency of iced smoothies. They come in many fruity flavors, plus chocolate.

"So after seeing this and being tempted multiple times," he said, "and thinking what in the world could this possibly be, we drove into one and ended up ordering daiquiris."

PolitiFact Oregon: Did you order the drinks and then drive off?

Kennemer (small voice): "I’m afraid we did."

So there’s your evidence. Still, we understand that readers may want legal proof of proofed drinks to-go by vehicle, other than the word of a visiting legislator. For that, we contacted Jacques Berry, a spokesman for the Louisiana lieutenant governor’s office.

Berry couldn’t tell us how many such drive-thrus dot the South Louisiana landscape, but he verified that a person doesn’t usually have to go far to find one. For locals, it’s a popular frozen treat on a Friday afternoon. "It’s not as much of a late-night thing," he said.

And why the daiquiri, in particular? Well, Berry thinks it has to do with New Orleans bartenders mixing the ingredients that were plentiful and on hand, in this case, fresh fruit, rum and ice. The drinks caught on.

Donnie Silva, owner of Big Easy Bachelor Parties in New Orleans, says he thinks the blended drinks are popular because of the climate. He was in Las Vegas recently when he says, "I really wanted a daiquiri. I guess it’s just the heat, we really don’t have a winter. Fifteen of the last 25 Christmases I’ve been in shorts and a T-shirt."

Which is an utterly foreign concept to Oregonians. As foreign as the daiquiri drive-thru.

(Technically, Louisiana does not allow open containers in vehicles. The way it works is that an attendant hands you a drink and a straw and what you do with those two objects is up to you. Also, in some states, you can buy packaged liquor and beer through a drive-thru window. )

We realize Kennemer is citing an extreme example, and that’s fine, but we should also remind readers that loosening our liquor laws won’t necessarily turn us into Louisiana. California has liquor stores that any kid can enter to buy a pack of gum. And still you can’t get a decent frozen daiquiri to go, by car, or a gin and tonic, by foot.

We rate the statement True.

Our Sources

The Oregonian, "Pinot politics: Oregon lawmakers take cautious approach to liberalizing liquor laws," Sept. 11, 2012
USA Today, "Concern over drive-up alcohol sales spurs efforts at ban," July 10, 2012
New York Times, "There You Go! Now Drive Safe, You Hear?," July 2, 2011
The Times-Picayune, "Eliminate straw-sized loophole in Louisiana's open container law: An editorial," April 30, 2010
Interview with Bill Kennemer,  Sept. 11, 2012
Interview with Donnie Silva, owner, Big Easy Bachelor Parties, Sept. 13, 2012
Interview with Jacques Berry -- "as in strawberry daiquiri" -- spokesman, Office of Lt. Governor, Louisiana, Sept. 13, 2012

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