UPDATED: The bill has been signed!
There are few better ways to show off how lovely fresh produce can be than to extend its life as an infused spirit. Since California is well known for its high-quality, fruitful bounty, it stands to reason that the Golden State’s master mixologists should be able to benefit and show off their wizardry with cocktails created using such custom-made liqueur and such.
Turns out that a Prohibition-era Business & Professions Code restriction in the state prevents just that. Bars and other retail liquor-licensed establishments are technically prohibited from also being “rectifiers,” which prevents them from infusing alcohol, or even creating something like sangria, to be sold on the premises.
“23784. No retailer’s on-sale license shall be issued to any person to whom, or for any premises for which, a manufacturer’s, wine grower’s, importer’s, wholesaler’s, or rectifier’s license is issued; and nomanufacturer’s, wine grower’s, importer’s, wholesaler’s, or
rectifier’s license shall be issued to any person to whom, or for any
premises for which, a retailer’s on-sale license is issued, except that a retailer’s on-sale license may be issued to a wholesaler in counties not to exceed 15,000 population.”
In 2008, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issued an advisory warning of such, and more recently has taken steps to deter the rectification of distilled spirits. SB 32, introduced to the State Senate by Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), seeks to change the definition of “rectifier” to exclude “any on-sale licensee that colors, flavors, or blends distilled spirits or wine products on the licensed premises for consumption on those premises.” It makes sense that in a culinary capital such as San Francisco, Leno’s constituents would be among the hardest hit by enforcement.
The bill, first introduced in 2010, has finally passed both branches and sits on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, waiting for his sign-off . . . or veto. It’s something that’s anticipated to occur this week.
In the support of small business, artisan cocktail-makers, and, frankly, enjoyers of such, we would urge you to hop over to Change.org and sign a petition asking Gov. Brown to turn SB 32 into law.
As much as we enjoyed our little infusion experiments, we’d prefer to sample how to pros do it — give us something to reach for.