June 26, 2005

A beer, please!

Australia follows the American model and most restaurants, cafes and food places serve alcohol only under restricted conditions. This means that you can’t order a beer if you happen to be in the wrong kind of place.

The first time we went shopping in the inner city malls of Perth, I tried to deposit my husband in a pub with a beer (as I’m used to do in Vienna), so that I can do my shopping without being hurried. However, we had to find out that there is no place in the whole mall that serves alcohol. Or rather there is no place that serves alcohol without requiring the customer to also order food. You get only a beer if you’re ordering a meal! But we were thirsty, not hungry! A nice man helped us out and showed us the way to the next Irish pub. In a pub you’re allowed to drink alcohol without having to eat anything.

I believe this whole misery is based on cost issues. In order to be allowed to serve alcohol, an operator of a pub, bar, cafe or restaurant has to purchase a license. It’s cheaper to get a so-called restaurant license. Under this license, guests are allowed to drink alcohol if they order it with a meal. Since these license regulations are strictly supervised and high penalties apply, it’s usually very hard to persuade restaurant staff to make an exception for you.

We now have found out a few places where we can drink a beer or a cider without ordering a meal, but it took us some time and detective work. Usually there is a small sign above the entrance doors which tells you what license the restaurant has. If there is no sign, you better ask. In case there is no sign which says either “restaurant license” or “fully licensed”, but only “licensed”, you can assume that they serve alcohol only with food - at least that’s our experience. Guess what, we prefer pubs which are fully licensed.

In Australia you feel like an alcoholic if you want to enjoy a beer during the day. How can you think of drinking beer in a shopping centre after five exhausting hours of shopping? Pubs are not allowed in shopping centres. We are still not quite used to choosing a restaurant depending on its license. I don’t really have to drink alcohol all the time, but I feel that this restriction impacts on my sense of freedom and quality of life.

This really hits home when you once again forgot to pay attention to the license sign, and you had to get through an otherwise fantastic Sunday lunch without a glass of one of the wonderful Australian wines, only because the nice looking restaurant you chose happened to be not licenced at all.

1 Comment »

  1. Hi,
    I’m an Australian and I have to agree entirely with you. Having just returned from a European trip I LOVED the fact that you could get a beer in a shopping center food court or just about anywhere.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and observations on Australia, it’s very interesting to read about Australia from a visitors perspective,
    Scott McKinnon

    Comment by Scott McKinnon — December 19, 2005 @ 11:55 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. | Email This Article

Leave a comment

XHTML (you can use following tags): <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> .

:mrgreen: :neutral: :twisted: :arrow: :shock: :smile: :???: :cool: :evil: :grin: :idea: :oops: :razz: :roll: :wink: :cry: :eek: :lol: :mad: :sad: :!: :?: