Loosened liquor laws let Minnesota cities expand alcohol sales

Alcohol will flow a little more freely around Minnesota in the coming months, thanks to new laws passed during this year’s legislative session.

The new state law says all Minneapolis parks can now license alcohol sales — without needing covered seating like at Sea Salt by Minnehaha Falls.

Under the cherry spoon, the pond is wet, but the Sculpture Garden Park is dry.

Same at the Painted Turtle at Lake Nokomis, where the restaurant openly wonders, "Where’s the beer?"

But the longstanding prohibition on alcohol sales at Minneapolis parks is tapping out.

The park board convinced legislators to let it pour.

"It's beer and wine only in controlled settings. It's not a free-for-all, all throughout the parks," said Shane Stenzel from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Stenzel expects the city council to approve alcohol licenses at Sculpture Garden and Lake Nokomis by July.

And he’s already dreaming of pop-up restaurants and alcohol mini-festivals going on a tour of the city’s other parks in summer soon.

Rep. Emma Greenman (DFL-Minneapolis) carried the new law because she says it better reflects the way people live and play these days.

"We want folks to come here and to play here and to, walk from their houses a couple of blocks away," Rep. Greenman said. "And this allows you to do that in a way, that we didn't have before."

The same can be said for an expansion of the social district experiment that’s worked so well for the city of Anoka, opening certain streets for people to walk around with their drinks.

Shakopee and Stillwater now have permission to try it out next summer.

"To just sip and stroll as you shop and take in the city and the sights and the bridge and the water and all of that, really adds to the atmosphere," said Sen. Karin Housley, (R)-Stillwater.

All of these drinking districts still need city approval, so if it bothers people, they’ll be able to have input about exactly how and where it’s allowed.