Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Future of drink specials in limbo

Whether Flip Night will continue as a staple of the Madison social scene is up in the air. And the days of cheap Jack and Cokes might be limited.

Some in the Alcohol License Review Committee and within the City Council hope to create a citywide drink-special ban, according to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4. A majority support is unclear at this time, he noted.

The council first initiated the bans at the recommendation of the University of Wisconsin’s Policy, Alternatives, Community and Education Project. They aim to curb underage drinking and alcohol-related violence.


“I’m worried that the police and the university will succeed in banning all drink specials after 10 o’clock,” Verveer said. “The thing is students don’t go out until after 10 o’clock.”

Others, however, support the idea.

ALRC member Ken Kamp said he favors a citywide ban on drink specials Thursdays through Saturdays after 10 o’clock. That is when over-consumption of alcohol occurs because of lower prices, he noted.

“I think it’s the right direction to go, I think we need to help protect the students and residents of Madison,” Kamp said.

Earlier this summer Kamp proposed a ban outlawing happy hour. The proposal, however, received little support from the City Council and the mayor’s office. Verveer said the ban will not pass because of this lack of support.

The ALRC lifted all drink-special bans at the Regent Street Retreat, Hawks and the King Club earlier this summer. They were removed to keep the bars at the same business level as other venues selling alcohol, Verveer said.

Newer businesses, for example, are handed different regulations than older establishments, he noted.

The lifted bans are not final and will be discussed at the Sept. 7 City Council meeting. The council will decide whether to approve the lifting of the bans. It is likely they will also discuss the proposal to create a citywide ban.

Even with a handful of lifted bans, some students disagree with happy-hour and drink-special regulations.

UW senior Joe Ryan agreed drink-special bans are not successful in decreasing binge-drinking.

“In Wisconsin drinking is everywhere, people grow up doing it and I don’t think banning drink specials is stopping anything,” Ryan said. “Students are still going to drink.”

He noted more money comes out of students’ pockets when specials are banned.

“About half of the alcohol I buy is from drink specials, but most people do buy specials because they’re just cheaper,” Ryan said. “But banning them doesn’t stop drinking.”

Several downtown bar owners have voiced their opposition to the drink-special ban during ALRC meetings. They argue drink specials are offered during weeknights and not on weekends, when alcohol-related violence increases.

“Banning drink specials would affect our business, especially during the week when people come here specifically for them, like Tuesdays or Wednesdays,” said Ryan Hoelker, manager of State Street Brats.

He added people are more likely to attend weeknights at Brats or at the Kollege Klub because of the specials.

If the City Council bans drink specials, Hoelker said the staff and management would have to sit down and figure out a plan of attack.

“We’d have to determine what’s going for us besides the drink special and those things are usually the great atmosphere we provide through music and a fun staff,” Ryan said. “We’d have to focus our attention [on] continuing to attract people here.”

Ryan feels tighter alcohol regulations might help solve alcohol-related violence, especially in a city where thousands of students frequent bars and house parties.

“I’ve always said the drinking age should be 18. Then drinking might be more of a social thing instead of an attempt at getting really, really drunk,” Ryan said.

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