A long time ago, I spent a little time hanging out in Nacogdoches, Texas. It was there I joined the elite ranks of those who were allowed to drink wherever alcohol was sold in Texas. I became a full fledged member of the Lone Star States biggest rule dodging club.

Are you, also, a member of the massive club in Texas called, Unicard?

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The Interesting Way Texas Seems To Straddle The Fence

At least, when it comes to alcohol. It can be a lot to wrap your brain around. Dry counties. Wet counties. Counties that aren't wet, but aren't exactly dry depending on what day of the week it is and what establishment you're getting your libation from. Sometimes, you could have a card in your wallet that allowed you the pleasure of getting a pint.

Welcome to the insanity that is/was the Unicard system.

Prohibition In Texas...For Some

If you've been on this planet long enough, you're familiar with dry counties. These were the downer places that you couldn't buy alcohol in. Establishments that dealt in the sale of various forms of liquid courage decided to take advantage of a little "work around" for the no booze rule.

Photo by Josh Olalde on Unsplash
Photo by Josh Olalde on Unsplash

Let everyone join a "private club." Join a restaurant's "private club" and now you get to have a beer with your dinner. After it dawned on everyone that this was a stupid idea, they fixed it by keeping it stupid; just a little bit easier to manage.

Instead of collecting various random cards, you could get the magical Unicard.

One Card To Rule Them All...

For me, it was in a Chili's in Nacogdoches, Texas (which is a town that absolutely lived up to its reputation as laid out by the Marx Brothers).

I wanted a beer. The server asked me for my ID, which I provided. Then they asked me for my Unicard. To which my response was, "What?"

Unicard was invented to replace all of the random membership cards you would collect, and serve as the be-all-end-all solution to Texans drinking woes; because we obviously couldn't have done this any easier way.

Once it was explained to me that I would need this card if I hoped to drink at a Chili's in Nacogdoches, Texas and that it wouldn't cost me anything, I signed up. Then I sat drinking my beer, confused and questioning my decision to move to east Texas.

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Come to find out, being a card carrying member of the Unicard club meant that I was no longer purchasing beer, but being served beer as a club member. It's weird, but this is Texas and there's plenty of examples of this being how we do things.

Photo by Poojitha Prasad on Unsplash
Photo by Poojitha Prasad on Unsplash

I haven't had to use my Unicard since I left Nacogdoches well over a decade ago. In fact, I can't find much information on it still being much of a thing at all. In fact, people who still ask about having a "license to drink" are openly ridiculed for being completely insane.

It's true though. Once upon a time, you had to have at least a "membership" in order to drink in several places across the Lone Star State.

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