New York’s Argyle is a dry town no more. Residents of the Washington County village, which has a population of 3700 and lies about 25 miles northeast of Saratoga Springs, went to the polls on November 5 and voted to repeal the town’s 86-year-old ban on the sale of alcohol. Before the Tuesday vote, Argyle was the largest of New York State’s remaining dry towns of which there are now seven.
“It will be an economic increase for sure,” says Argyle’s Town Supervisor Bob Henke. “[In] this day and age, [whatever] will enable a small business is a good thing.” The referendum, which made it onto Tuesday’s ballot thanks to a petition started by the Repeal Argyle Prohibition Committee, passed by a 3-to-1 margin. The measure was divided into four separate propositions: (1) restaurant sale of alcohol; (2) beer and wine-cooler sales at grocery and convenience stores; (3) tavern/craft brewery sale of alcohol; and (4) package sales in wine and liquor stores. All four proposals passed with large majorities.
For as long as the Prohibition-era alcohol ban had been a part of Argyle’s history (and its regional claim to fame), so had attempts to remove the law from the books. Before Tuesday’s successful referendum, Argyle residents went to the polls on 11 separate occasions throughout the decades to decide the town’s wet/dry status: in 1933, 1936, 1941, 1947, 1950, 1955, 1968, 1970, 1977, 1989 and 2000. “I think that it’s just a different atmosphere right now,” says Henke about this year’s historic reversal. “The craft brewery stuff is brand new here, and I think that was the primary push.” Henke’s no doubt referring to the proliferation of craft brewers in the region, which include the as-of-yesterday, ironically-monikered Argyle Brewing Company, which has locations in Greenwich and Cambridge, NY, respectively, and could move into town now that the ban’s been lifted.
As to whether Henke will be enjoying the fruits (or hops) of the repeal, he says: “If someone opens a craft brewery, I’ll certainly go up and patronize it.” Cheers to that!