New 10 p.m. Last Call for Restaurants and Bars Tolls for Liquor Stores, Too

The Cruise Room is back in business, but no liquor can be served after 10 p.m.
The Cruise Room is back in business, but no liquor can be served after 10 p.m. Westword
Never send to know for whom the ten o'clock bell tolls: It tolls for thee.

The temporary order that Governor Jared Polis issued on July 21 moves the last-call deadline for liquor sales to 10 p.m. not just at bars and restaurants, but any entity with a license to sell liquor. That means liquor and grocery stores must stop liquor sales at 10 p.m., too.

Polis's new rule, which takes effect on July 23, will be in force for the next thirty days, presuming Colorado's COVID-19 case rate doesn't continue to increase.

"Normally in our state, last call is two in the morning. Now it's going to be 10 p.m. statewide," Polis pronounced, because "inebriation in public places is inconsistent with social distancing." And if you want to finish getting inebriated in private, you'd better make sure you're already stocked up, since you won't be able to stop by Argonaut or some other store on your way home...although if you're drinking at a place that sells drinks to go, you'll at least be able to do some one-stop shopping.

The new last-call deadline for liquor won't affect timing for food service, however; restaurant kitchens will be able to operate after 10 p.m. And while traditional last-call rules often cut off service ten to fifteen minutes before the deadline, the current interpretation of the new rule is that alcohol ordered and paid for by 10 p.m. can remain on the table.

Polis did offer one bright spot in his otherwise gloomy pronouncement. "I'm very irritated by last-call laws," he said, and encouraged lawmakers during the next legislative session to consider giving local communities flexibility to write regulations allowing alcohol service after 2 a.m. — assuming the pandemic is over.

We'll drink to that.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun