A Bad New York Bill is Brewing

We recently discussed a wine win in New York State. Now, Governor Cuomo faces a bill that has the potential to restrict wine and bartending in the state. This new bill would raise the serving age and increase restrictions on Finger Lakes wineries, Local SYR reports:

A new bill that has been passed by the New York State Assembly could have negative impacts on the wineries throughout the southern tier if it's signed into law by Governor Cuomo. That bill would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to serve alcohol or handle an open container.

But this bill goes further than just limiting who can serve the alcohol, when it comes to wineries in the Finger Lakes, there would be an increase in restrictions. The bill limits the number of wine or cider tastings a winery can give, the change would only allow for six- 3 ounce wine tastings, which would equal a total of 18 ounces of wine. However, it also makes it illegal for a winery to serve the same person twice in the same day...

Read the whole piece here.

Family Dollar Looking to Penetrate Cincinnati Booze Market


Last year, DrinksReform covered that Ohio was planning to expand its number of statewide liquor stores. Family dollar is looking to join this market, as they have applied for 28 liquor permits. They are known for selling discount products, and may expand this service to the booze industry. Biz Journals reports the story:

The discount store chain has applied and is pending approval for 28 liquor permits in Hamilton, Clermont, Butler and Warren counties. Those permits would allow 14 stores to sell packaged beer and wine to-go. The vast majority of those, 21 pending liquor applications, are in Hamilton County.

It's part of a new push by the chain to offer alcohol in its Cincinnati-area Family Dollar locations. The company has obtained permits to sell beer and wine in nine Cincinnati-area locations since September of last year.

"We are simply trying to provide our customers with a convenient option to purchase adult beverages while shopping for their everyday needs," Family Dollar spokeswoman Kayleigh Painter said in an emailed statement. She did not elaborate further on the strategy or return a call for comment.

Read the whole article here.

Whiskey Delivery Club


An Iowa Man has recently launched a unique and innovative alcohol subscription service, as reported by the Des Moines Register. His business is now expansive, as he tries to figure out how to overcome complicated and varying state liquor laws:

Club members pay $129 every 60 days for a box containing a 750 millimeter of whiskey from a featured distiller and some whiskey accessories, such as a glass and information about the whiskey-maker, Strable said.

“You can’t just go to (a grocery store) and get these bottles,” he said. The whiskey is generally from small-batch distillers with interesting stories and tasty products, he said.

Rackhouse now boasts customers in 17 states. New subscribers are joining all the time, he said.

An initial stumbling block was the multitude of state liquor laws that he had to work through to sell his whiskey boxes. He recently hired a Las Vegas-based fulfillment company that now takes care of that.

Read the entire article here.

#Actually, Beer Pitchers are Bad


Last summer, R Street’s Cameron Smith caused a stir by calling out Alabama’s interpretation of a regulation that targeted margarita pitchers. The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board was forced to backtrack, conceding that it would leave the pitchers alone.

But don’t be fooled: Unruly drink pitchers are hardly confined to Alabama. In fact, our nation’s capital was recently forced to enact an even stricter rule to control its pitcher epidemic. Thanks to some quick-thinking government officials, D.C. law now officially prohibits customers from picking up pitchers and carrying them around a restaurant.

This regulation is a great example of local government attempting to respond to one of the paramount threats of our day. In fact, the only problem we can see with D.C.’s rule is that it fails to fully appreciate just how dangerous pitchers truly are.

It all started last year when D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board implemented a new rule declaring that bars and restaurants were allowed to offer bottle service to their customers, so long as they did not “allow any patrons to remove the bottle or pitcher from the table.”

The regulation’s purpose is to “curb the practice of patrons wandering around the establishment with large containers containing multiple servings of alcoholic beverages.” Cracking down on wandering drink containers is important, of course, because “large containers may be used as weapons during altercations.” After all, who among us hasn’t visited a restaurant and ordered a pitcher of our favorite boozy beverage, only to drown its contents and use the empty container to smack a fellow patron upside the head?

For starters, pitchers have intricately designed handles that ergonomically mold to the human hand, allowing customers to arm themselves faster than you can say: “I’ll have a pitcher of Miller Lite.” But pitchers can be weaponized in less intuitive ways, too. In addition to being useful for whacking surly bartenders, shattering a glass pitcher can create dangerous shards handy for stabbing fellow bar patrons. Large containers of alcohol can also be a fire hazard (alcohol is flammable, after all).

And don’t even get us started on spills. Every week, dozens of clumsy D.C. bar-goers order pitchers of booze only to spill their contents on their nicest Sperry Top-Siders. Spilled beer not only ruins leather shoes, it also turns dance floors into slippery skating rinks primed to trigger costly slip-and-fall lawsuits. While spillage risk is also present with pint glasses, the potential harm caused by a dropped pitcher is much more significant (to paraphrase Biggie: Mo Liquid Mo Problems).

In the end, the flaw with the ABC’s new rule is obvious: It is not concerned enough with the victims of pitcher-crime.  Ideally, we would outlaw drinking establishments altogether, as they are a clear danger to the public. However, as pragmatic advocates, we recommend one of two policy solutions for D.C.’s deficient pitcher law: Either #BanThePitcher entirely, or arm every person in every bar in the District with their own pitcher for self-defense.

If we ban pitchers completely – coupled with felony convictions and jail time for anyone found still carrying one within District limits – then we can stop pitcher-fueled bar fights and catastrophic spills before they even happen. But if a complete ban is a step too far, let’s at least fight fire with fire. We should give every policy wonk and congressional staffer in every D.C. bar his or her own pitcher to wield in self-defense. That way, the next time someone pours beer on your new Tory Burch flats, you can respond in kind by dousing them with a jug full of PBR. Not only will this bring justice to such abhorrent crimes, it will likely deter them from happening in the first place.

It’s long past time for the D.C. government to show that it cares about its citizens by escalating the war on pitchers. Remember: People don’t kill people, pitchers kill people.

C. Jarrett Dieterle is the director of commercial freedom and a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, as well as the editor of DrinksReform.org. Daniel DiLoreto is a policy intern for commercial freedom at R Street.

Cannabis Beer Faces Stiff Barriers to Entry


The American drinks industry has been expanding not only in size, but also in flavor and formula. Part of the innovation in the beer industry has been cannabis-infused beer. However, The Ringer explains that it is questionable whether this new beer will survive, due to a multitude of regulations:

Tom Hogue, the congressional liaison for the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), tried to explain the labyrinth of regulations. “There are three layers — at least two, but potentially three,” he said. “Federal law, state law, and you may have local ordinances.”

Brewers are required to submit all beer formulas to the TTB for approval, and if there’s a question of safety, Hogue said, it has to be vetted by the Food and Drug Administration. From there, the path to commercial viability gets complicated further. “Let’s say I produce a beer here in Virginia. I brew it here, I sell it here, it does not leave the state,” he said. “I don’t have to have a label that’s approved federally to get it out in the market. If I’m selling it outside Virginia, I need federal approval.”

FDA approval of regular beer recipes has become standardized, but according to Hogue, hemp-derived beers are scrutinized much more closely. The TTB has to reconcile these formulas with not only the FDA, but the Drug Enforcement Administration as well because cannabis is a controlled substance. If the beer meets the standards of all three bodies, the drinks can be sold in the states where they’re made...

Read the whole article here

Olive Tariffs: Making Martinis Costlier


As we have previously discussed on DrinksReform, tariffs are hurting American drinkers. This time, harm comes in the form of martinis. Per The Inquirer, The Trade Commission decided to put a tariff on Spanish olives after finding that they allegedly hurt American producers:

The U.S. International Trade Commission will impose antidumping duties of as much as 25.5 percent on Spanish olives after finding that the imports hurt American producers. Antisubsidy duties of 27.02 percent will also be levied.

The ruling may help American producers that asked for the duties to be imposed, including members of the trade group Coalition for Fair Trade in Ripe Olives, according to Bloomberg Law.

But the European Commission has said it will defend the interests of Spanish olive producers, who sent an estimated $67.6 million worth of their product to the U.S. in 2017, according to the Commerce Department.

See the whole article here.

Alabama Looking to Allow Curbside Service

R Street's Cameron Smith has been a strong advocate for improving Alabama's alcohol laws. The state's newest proposed rule change could do just that by allowing curbside delivery. Per Al.com, they even struck a requirement in the rule that mandates a minimum store size for this service:

Unless lawmakers intervene, Alabamians later this year could get their beer and wine without having to enter a store.

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board this week approved a rule change allowing grocery stores that offer online ordering to let customers place an order for beer or wine and have it brought to and loaded into the customer's vehicle.

The board Wednesday made one change to the original proposal, striking a requirement that the grocery be at least 30,000 square feet or more. Now, the curbside pickup rule applies to any size store that offers online ordering and meets other requirements, ABC spokesman Dean Argo said Thursday.

Read more about Alabama's booze delivery here.

Missouri Retailers Can Now Honestly Advertise


In the past, we have covered Missouri's tight commercial speech laws. Until last week, an arcane  law had banned alcohol retailers from mentioning specific alcohol prices, even if it was truthful. This not only resulted in vague restrictions on mentioning discounts, but also made it difficult for businesses to compete with others across state boundaries:

"I get calls all the time from stations on the borders of the state," says Mark Gordon, president and CEO of the Missouri Broadcasters Association. "'Can I mention this discount price, or say that?' And they can't. They're competing with stations across state lines, and they don't get a level playing field."...

In legal filings, lawyers for Missouri argued they had a compelling interest in discouraging overconsumption. But the state's laws didn't bar stores from selling alcohol below cost — or even advertising those prices inside the store. It simply banned them from being advertised outside the store...

Read more about Missouri's law here.

Minnesota Benefitting from Sunday Sales


Last year, Minnesota allowed Sunday alcohol sales. After a year, evidence suggests that this has been a beneficial move. While some businesses have seen this impact more than others, this is a sign of consumers choosing their product as opposed to harming the economy. Some people that were formerly opposed to allowing Sunday sales are now eating their words:

One year ago, on July 1, Sunday liquor store sales became legal in Minnesota for the first time. Although there are no definitive figures available to determine the economic impact on state liquor tax revenue and liquor store operations, there is some evidence it's been a positive move.

"It's not too soon to eat my words from last year," said Edina City Manager Scott Neal, who oversees operations at the city's three municipal liquor stores.

Last year he was among the majority of liquor store operators who thought Sunday liquor sales would be a money-losing proposition. Instead, he estimates gross sales are up about $240,000, with about $50,000 of that being profit.

Read the whole article here.

Online Delivery Gives Consumers Independence Day Drinks


As previously mentioned on DrinksReform, Texas allowed Amazon to expand its services to deliver booze. Now, a Texas grocer is using an online platform to offer same day booze services. Thankfully, this came just in time for Independence Day:

Heading into the Fourth of July holiday, H-E-B has launched same-day delivery for beer and wine order via its Favor e-commerce subsidiary.

The service kicked off just before the weekend in the greater San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi and Houston markets, the Texas supermarket chain said. Plans call for Favor to make the service available in more than 30 cities, with free one-hour delivery for beer and wine orders through Labor Day.

To order beer and wine for delivery, customers download the Favor app and tap on the H-E-B Beer & Wine banner or go online to FavorDelivery.com. Orders require a Runner tip, set at a minimum of $2, and the delivery charge for beer and wine is automatically waived.

Read more here