Monthly Archives: October 2013
Twice a year, we hear from restaurants and bars about springing forward or falling back from Daylight Savings Time. How does Daylight Savings Time work for last call and closing at Tennessee bars and restaurants?
California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas captures the feeling of fall in Tennessee:
All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray…
There is a silver lining for falling back. On Sunday November 3, bars get a bonus hour and can close at the equivalent of 4 am, when clocks fall back at 2 am. At 2 am, suddenly it is 1 am.
Although hope springs eternal, springing forward makes last call an hour early. At 2 am standard time, when clocks are set forward one hour for daylight savings time, alcohol sales must cease.
Infused alcoholic beverages are back in the limelight in Tennessee. Tennessee ABC agents visited a number of restaurants and bars over the past week to inspect infused spirits.
Not all of the visits were exactly friendly. We hear that agents seized infused spirits from at least a handful of bars. We also hear that some of the product has been returned to bars.
Regular readers may be asking, what gives? I thought the ABC agreed to stay enforcement against infusions until a formal rule could be enacted? We covered the news here.
Infused beverages are not standard fare at Tennessee watering holes. Lynyrd Skynyrd gets it:
And all those high-falutin’ society people
I don’t care if they don’t understand
Earlier today, October 10, 2013, we discussed the recent enforcement actions with Keith Bell, the Tennessee ABC Director. Mr. Bell assures us that the stay on prosecution of infusions is intact.
The ABC is currently focused on labeling of infusions, which was one of the major concerns behind the original enforcement action.
Infusions are often concocted and served from large clear glass containers. Another popular method is to pour infusions back into a bottle of the base spirit – for example, serving an infused Absolut Tootsie roll vodka from an Absolut bottle.
From the ABC’s perspective, consumers do not know what they are ordering or drinking. Consumers do not know who made the infusion or how old it is. When infusions originally were targeted, the ABC cited heath concerns because of complaints from the Knoxville area of rotten fruit in infused vessels.
How can I safely sell infused alcoholic beverages in Tennessee? Based on our discussion today with the ABC, labeling is key. Any publicly visible container of infused spirits should have a label that states:
1. Who made the infusion: For example “House-made.”
2. What is in the infusion: For example “Tito’s Vodka infused with lime, cayenne and anchovies.”
3. The trade name of the infusion: For example: “Fiery fishy frenzy.” Avoid using the spirit name in the trade name. The ABC indicated that names like “Titio’s cayenne-spiced anchovy infusion” are problematic. Use of the brand name creates the impression that the infusion is made by Tito’s.
4. When the infusion was made: For example “Infused from June 2013 to date.”
5. If the infusion contains ingredients that may spoil, an expiration date: For example “Consume by January 2014.” Expiration dates are not going to be scientific. We advise good judgment and a date that is far enough out to sell the product.
If your restaurant or bar serves infused spires, we encourage proper labeling and checking back with us as this issue continues to develop.
Restaurants, bars and other liquor license holders in Tennessee are beginning to experience the double whammy of new legislation and ABC policy punishing sales to minors. The impact of the changes is dramatic. Based on our early experience, licensees may face suspensions instead of fines.
Memphis Rocker Elvis Presley has been there, done that:
The warden threw a party in the county jail
The prison band was there and they began to wail
The band was jumpin’ and the joint began to swing
You should’ve heard them knocked-out jailbirds sing
ABC Suspending Licenses for Sales to Minors:
Regular readers know that the Tennessee ABC has been making lots of changes. Recently, the ABC has been seeking suspensions of liquor licenses for second sales to minors within a one year period.
In the past, the ABC issued fines for sales to minors, as long as the establishment was making genuine efforts to prevent sales to minors.
Recently, we have seen citations setting a second sale within one year for hearing for suspension or revocation of the liquor license. This is attention grabbing.
We will keep readers informed as we learn more about ABC penalties for sales to minors. The new policy could easily be applied to multiple sales over more than a year.
New Law Mandates Coordinated Efforts by ABC and Beer Boards:
A new Tennessee law requires that the ABC and beer boards give written notice of suspensions of liquor licenses and beer permits to each other, via certified mail.
In the past, enforcement efforts of the ABC and local beer board were sometimes coordinated and lead to separate fines or suspensions being issued by both the ABC and the local beer board.
Based on our experience, coordinated enforcement was sporadic. Beer boards and the ABC did not regularly communicate about violations. For restaurant and bar owners, this was a good thing.
It is legal for the ABC and local beer board to each impose a separate fine or suspension for the same violation. Yes, the ABC and local beer board can both suspend a restaurant or bar liquor and beer permits for one sale to minor. To make matters worse, the suspensions usually are imposed at different times.
What about double jeopardy? Not applicable.
We strongly encourage Tennessee license holders to step up efforts to prevent sales to minors and intoxicated patrons. The stakes are much higher.