Tag Archives: spirits

More on ABC’s Alcohol-Soaked Fruit Flap

A controversy over the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s move to ban restaurants from soaking fruits and the like in booze to create a mixed drink (previous post HERE) is getting more attention… and may be left for legislators to resolve.
From WPLN:
The issue centers on who’s allowed to make infusions–where an ingredient like fruit soaks in alcohol to flavor it, often for several days. Tennessee’s ABC says in looking back at a law from 2006, it found that in some cases, making infusions requires a distiller’s license, which restaurants can’t get.
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.”
When the Tennessee Hospitality Association sent a letter arguing the commission is misinterpreting the rule, Cheek signed on, representing a couple major restaurant chains. If the commission won’t budge, Cheek says the matter could end up before state lawmakers next year.

And this excerpt from Cari Wade Gervin’s thorough review of the dispute, its history and ramifications:
Bell says he’d be fine with a law change–he says he’s encouraging people to look at newly passed legislation in Iowa that better regulates “Mixed Drinks or Cocktails Not For Immediate Consumption.” But according to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division, that law requires pre-mixed batches of drinks to be disposed of within 72 hours if not consumed. Bars are also required to keep records–for three years–detailing when each and every batch is made and disposed of, along with the recipe, the ingredients, and the names of the person who made the batch and the person who disposed of it.
We asked Sohn if this seemed like a practical solution. She laughed loudly.
“Yeah, no,” Sohn says. “It would be very wasteful. … If they changed it to that, we probably still wouldn’t bother with infusions.”
Scanlan says he hopes TABC will reconsider its actions, but Bell doesn’t seem inclined to do so.
“I’m going to have to apply the law as it is right now,” Bell says. “I’m pretty certain we’ll start issuing citations sometime in the next few weeks.”

See also a Chattanooga Free Press editorial, opining that “the fun police are back, and this time they have their sights set on making sure that you won’t be able to sit back and enjoy a house-infused liquor at your favorite restaurant or neighborhood bar.”

Free Booze Bill Signed by Governor

News release from The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States:
NASHVILLE, TN – Tennesseans will soon have an opportunity to sample distilled spirits at restaurants, bars and liquor stores under new legislation signed late Friday by Governor Bill Haslam, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).
Under an amendment to Senate Bill 1224, a retail licensee may offer complimentary samples of the products it sells for tasting events held on the premises of the retail licensee. Such tastings, the amendment stipulates, are for sales, education and promotional purposes. The bill passed the State Legislature on May 21 and was signed by Gov. Haslam on June 10.
“For brand owners seeking to introduce premium products, sampling laws provide an excellent opportunity,” said DISCUS Vice President and Memphis native Ben Jenkins.
“Tasting events allow consumers to sample more premium products before making the important buying decision. So, this is a win-win for both retailers and consumers, and we commend Governor Haslam and the State Legislature for modernizing Tennessee’s liquor laws.”
Tennessee is the eighth state to pass legislation allowing liquor tastings since 2009 for a total of 43 states allowing some form of consumer spirits tastings.
“Tennessee is the latest in a national trend of states rolling back outdated liquor laws,” Jenkins said. “Spirits tastings, like wine tastings, ultimately generate revenue for the state by boosting consumer interest in premium products.”
Under the new law, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is tasked with formulating reasonable regulations for conducting tasting events at licensed retail locations to ensure responsible consumption, according to DISCUS.
Jenkins noted that Tennessee becomes the 35th state to allow off-premise consumer spirits tastings (i.e. liquor stores). In 2010, four states passed liquor sampling bills: Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia and California. Earlier this year, Washington State established a pilot project for 30 state liquor stores to hold at least six tastings events throughout the year. Vermont and Maine passed spirits tasting legislation in 2009.
Jenkins further pointed out that modernizing liquor laws to allow sampling has contributed to the strong growth of premium spirits brands over the past decade.