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This weekend sees an unfortunate coincidence: St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday. For most Americans, that doesn't matter. For those who live in — or are traveling to! — places with alcohol restrictions under so-called "blue laws," that means you may need to plan ahead. And we're here to help.

Depending on your ethnic heritage / enthusiasm about alcohol consumption, you may already be ahead of the curve on your preparations for the holiday. (Actually, I suppose that's only true for certain levels of alcohol enthusiasm.) If you're not: be warned. America's proud tradition of state-level rule-setting and ad hoc religious prohibitions means that our nation is a patchwork quilt of regulations about when and where you can buy booze — particularly on Sundays.

We've gone ahead and surveyed the various laws in place in various states to develop a composite How Easy Is It To Get / Be Drunk This Sunday (HEIITGBDTS) score.

It incorporates four datapoints:
a: Availability of liquor purchases on Sunday
b: Liquor sold at grocery stores
c: Non-Alcohol Beverage Control state
d: Laws against public intoxication

A state's score is calculated as follows:


Four notes: 

  • We ignored data on being able to buy booze at bars and such because this is America and you should be able to buy booze and take it wherever you want. 
  • We also ignored grocery stores that sell beer because it's St. Patrick's Day and you should drink whiskey. 
  • Nearly all of the data comes from this Wikipedia page
  • All of it was subjectively interpreted.

After all of that science and math, we're left with this map. The greener the state, the greener the gills. Scroll over for scores.

Unsurprisingly, Utah and Mississippi rank near the bottom. Perhaps more surprisingly, Oklahoma and North Carolina join them there. And Louisiana doesn't, perhaps thanks to a certain city near a certain Gulf. Your best bet for St. Patrick's Day looks like a city named after another saint: St. Louis. Cross the river all you want, you can still buy booze.

A final caveat. The calculation above only looks at state laws. Almost every state has municipalities or counties (or city blocks, who knows) in which the laws may be more strict. In other words, if you're using this map to plan your weekend, do a little legwork first.

Or, you know, buy booze today. Show a little gumption.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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