Tag Archives: drinks

ABC Retreats from Ban on ‘Infusion’ Mixed Drinks

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s executive director retreated Monday from plans to begin enforcing on July 1 a law he had interpreted as prohibiting restaurants from soaking fruits and juices in alcoholic beverages to create “infused” mixed drinks.
Critics had disputed the legal interpretation and said the prohibition would hurt the business of bars and restaurants that cater to customers with specialty drinks.
In an emailed statement, Keith Bell said the TABC still believes “the process of manufacturing infused alcoholic beverages, not for immediate consumption” by those holding only a liquor-by-the-drink license is a violation of a 2006 law and ABC rules.
“The TABC nevertheless determined it to be in the public interest that the regulatory enforcement of this prohibition be indefinitely suspended,” Bell said.
The retreat came after a Monday morning meeting between Bell and representatives of groups who disagreed with his interpretation of the 2006 law, including the Tennessee Hospitality Association and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“There was a full and frank discussion of the matter and what was intended and what was not” by the 2006 law, said Dan Haskell, general counsel and lobbyist for the Tennessee Hospitality Association, which represents restaurants and motels.
With enforcement of the ban on infused drinks suspended, Haskell said he now anticipates further discussion on whether the ABC needs to change its rules or the Legislature needs to clarify the law in the 2014 session.
The law in question dealt with distilleries, effectively allowing them to sell products they make on premises that amount to a pre-mixed drink — Jack Daniels Lemonade or Jack Citrus, for example, produced by the whiskey distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn.
Bell decided earlier that the language of the law prohibits anyone but distilleries from mixing fruits and juices with alcohol if they are then stored and not consumed immediately. Such storage could raise health concerns, he said.
“I think calmer heads will prevail,” said Haskell, contending the the state Department of Health, which inspects restaurants, would have raised the issue if there were any health concerns. Connoisseurs believe some period of time is needed for the “flavors to marry up,” he said.

ABC To Begin Enforcing 2006 Law Banning Pre-Mixed Drinks at Restaurants

A 2006 law that bans Tennessee restaurants from infusing alcohol with food products, even non-alcoholic beverages, will be enforced by the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission starting July 1, reports WKRN-TV.
The ban covers flavored liquor, such as infused whiskey, and pre-made mixed drinks, like margaritas.
In less than two weeks, each drink will have to be made to order when the ban by the Tennessee Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC) becomes effective.
The new head of the TABC, Keith Bell, plans to enforce the 2006 law. Only licensed distilleries will be able to perform the practice.
Restaurant owners like Josh Rew, who is opening a French bistro in a few weeks in Whites Creek, planned to have a produce-driven infusion cocktail on his menu. He said the new enforcement will set back Nashville’s cultural scene and could hurt his and other restaurant owners’ bottom line.
“If you are able to prep, then you can definitely get drinks out quicker. You can do higher volume, which means your profit margin goes up. People are happier, more word of mouth, and it definitely snow balls, but it could snowball in the other direction as well,” said Rew of the up and coming Chelsea Bistro.
The TABC cites health and safety concerns when restaurants infuse alcohol
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And, from WPLN:
In an email, the commission says despite what some people fear, the rule does not apply to drinks like margaritas or sangria. But Nashville lawyer Will Cheek warns restaurants that infuse liquors don’t want to risk having their license pulled.
“If you’ve got pineapple and fruit sitting in a vat of vodka, you need to be pulling that stuff out–it needs to be gone by July 1st.”