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Infused liquors might finally be legal in California bars

on 05/09/11 at 8:51 pm

Booze News

The California State legislature is debating a new measure which would allow bars to legally infuse alcohol with fruit and herbs.

Just about good cocktail bar in the city adulterates liquors somehow, be it through infusion or other types of rectification. The latter is defined by the California Alcoholic Beverage Control as “any process or procedure whereby distilled spirits are cut, blended, mixed or infused with any ingredient which reacts with the constituents of the distilled spirits and changes the character and nature or standards of identity of the distilled spirits.”

But as Michael Bauer blogged about last year, it’s technically illegal, thanks to a silly Prohibition-era law forbidding moonshine and the like. Plenty of outcry arose when the ABC — suffering for cashflow? — suddenly started cracking down on the law, prompting the city’s cocktail destinations to hide the offending elixirs, though plenty of bars didn’t really stop using them.

At long last, it looks like hope is on the way for the bars. Chronicle writer Marisa Lagos reports from Sacramento:

State lawmakers on Thursday approved a measure clarifying a post-Prohibition section of legal code that regulators have used to crack down on bars and restaurants that imbue alcohol with different flavors. The bill by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, passed the state Assembly with no discussion or opposition, and now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration.

If the governor signs the bill, bartenders will be free to soak lemons in their vodka, concoct homemade sangrias, or create herb-infused cocktails without fear of punishment.

The bill would take effect immediately after being signed by the governor. Hey, it only took several years!


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