In the author's childhood Burke and Angelina County were "dry", meaning that liquour could not be legally purchased in the county. Prior to 1904, however, Angelina County was"dry", and there were two saloons in Burke in the early days according to one source. In the 1900 census Burke residents Pat and Robert Austin listed their occupations as "saloon keepers." Bloomer Florence also ran a saloon in Burke around 1900.
The author remembers older Burkians recalling the liquor election years earlier. It was said that an unusual coalition of Angelina County churches and Trinity County liquor store owners won the day for the dry side. The Angelina County churches, especially Baptists, considered drinking sinful and did not want liquor to be available in the county to tempt the weak, and the Trinity County liquor stores did not want to lose their customers.
In the later "dry" era liquor could be purchased only in Trinity County at "beer joints" located on Highway 94 just across the Neches River bridge or at Carlton's Corral at Goat Hill, which was located off Highway 59 south of the Neches River bridge. The location of the joints just over the Neches River gave rise to the term "going across the river" as local slang for drinking. The author's family were teetotalers in the author's lifetime, as were most Burkians, but there were a few who enjoyed "going across the river".
There a "honky tonk" at Hoshall on on Texas 35 in the 1930s, but it is not clear whether it served alcohol. It did have a juke box, and presumably a dance floor, which some also considered a vice.
Dancing was available until the 1960s or later at a "night club" called the Club Rendesvous (later Mai Kai Club) located between Burke and Hoshall on Old Texas 35. The Rendesvouz was always a mysterious place, and the author never had the opportunity to see its interior. Liquor was likely available there under the private club exception that still permits restaurants to serve liquor in Angelina County with a free "club membership."
In 2007 Angelina County voted to become "wet," but to date there are not signs of liquor sales in Burke.