The idea that alcoholic drinks should be made available in licensed canteens or clubs in discrete Aboriginal communities has a contentious history in Australian public policy. This discussion paper aims to provide some historical depth to the latest resurgence of interest in the idea. The paper traces the social and policy changes that created a context within which it was thought that rationed sales of alcohol in home communities would encourage responsible drinking practices among Indigenous drinkers. Such experiments followed closely on the repeal of Aboriginal prohibition in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland. The paper also discusses what went wrong with these establishments and makes suggestions for the future.