Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission Gets Tough on Citations for Server Permit Cards

By - November 20, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

We have been blogging about a multitude of new rules from the Tennessee ABC in their quest to “clean up” the liquor laws. Yesterday, we learned that the TABC has adopted a zero tolerance policy for restaurant, hotel and bar servers that do not have server permit cards available at an ABC inspection.

In the past, the TABC has allowed a liquor licensee to provide copies of server permit cards, after an inspection. If the establishment could prove that the server had a card, the TABC would not issue a citation.

No more. Citing the exact language of the TABC rule, TABC Assistant Director Ginna Winfree declined to drop a citation against one of our hotel clients that provided proof of a valid server permit card, after the TABC inspection.

TABC Rule 0100-01-.03(18) requires that licensees have a copy of server permit cards available for review. We do not disagree with the reading of the law, but it is an unfair and unrealistic expectation.

Brings to mind Hank William’s classic Cocaine Blues:

Got up next morning and I grabbed my gun
I took a shot of cocaine and away I run
Made a good run but I run too slow
They overtook me down in Juarez Mexico


We have always recommended that restaurants, hotels and bars keep copies of server permit cards on file in the office. Failure to keep copies often leads to paying free money to the state. The basic fine is $150 per server, which can quickly add up to a big fine.

The new TABC policy makes it even more important for liquor licensees to keep copies on file. Unless you just like handing over more of your hard-earned profits to the state.

Tennessee Distilleries Are World-Class Tourist Destination

By - November 18, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

The Tennessean recently featured a glowing article about Kentucky craft distilleries. If you believe the hype, it seems that Kentucky is light years ahead of Tennessee in the craft distillery business.

Carly Simon’s addictive melody reminds us:

You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte 
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner 
They’d be your partner, and… 

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you 
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you 
Don’t you? Don’t You? 

Marketing is a huge force in America. The news story about craft distilleries focuses on a new $10.5 million attraction — The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. $10.5 mil is not exactly a craft distillery budget. Evan Williams is not exactly a craft distiller, cited by Wiki as “the second largest-selling Kentucky” “mass-market” bourbon. Marketing for the Kentucky Bourbon trail fails to mention the number of supposed craft distillers that are owned and controlled by huge liquor manufacturers.

We urge Tennessee’s real craft distillers to invest both time and money to showcase the Volunteer State’s whiskey heritage and make Tennessee’s whiskey trail a world-class destination. In many ways, it is all about the appearance to the public, which is largely influenced by marketing.

Tennessee is a world-class tourist destination for whiskey aficionados. Tennessee is the real deal.

On a side note, some may be asking, “gavotte,” what is that?  Merriam Webster informs us that gavotte is “a dance of French peasant origin marked by the raising rather than sliding of the feet.” Not sure why Carly Simon immortalized the word.

ADA Swimming Pool and Spa Litigation Against Hotels is New Tennessee Tempest

By - November 07, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Hospitality insiders have been bracing for a wave of ADA swimming pool and spa litigation. January 31, 2013 was the deadline for implementing a federal law requiring lifts and other ADA compliance for pools and spas at hotels. Earlier this year, industry trade sites reported the first surge of litigation.

We learned today that the storm has hit Tennessee. Conjures up the Doors’ famous tune:

Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm


The plaintiff in the Tennessee litigation, Dana Bowman, is represented by Eric G. Calhoun, of Dallas, Texas, an attorney that has filed lawsuits against hotels for Mr. Bowman in several states. The complaint alleges that Mr. Bowman is a disabled veteran, that the hotel does not have a lift for its pool or spa, and requests an injunction requiring the hotel to install a lift or otherwise comply with ADA. The lawsuit also seeks payment of legal fees from the hotel.

We encourage hotel owners and operators to examine ADA accessibility at pools and spas and seriously consider implementing basic measures to accommodate access. With the hammer of legal fess in the federal law, ignoring the new law is potentially more expensive than purchasing lifts.

Proposed Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission Rules for Infused Cocktails

By - November 06, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Infused alcoholic beverages have been the talk of town among many restaurant and bar owners in Tennessee. The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s enforcement actions over the past few months have lead to uncertainty regarding what is permissible and what is illegal about infused alcoholic beverages.

Brings to mind the 2011 single from Sunny Sweeney, Drink Myself Single:

I’m gonna dress up, in my low-cut
My tight blue jeans, I’m gonna stir somethin’ up
I’m gonna kiss all the boys ’til I kiss your memory goodbye
Yeah, I’m a gonna drink myself, single tonight


The TABC has issued a preliminary draft of rules about infusions. We see many potential problems with the proposed rules and encourage license-holders to send comments to Keith Bell, ABC Director, at Keith.Bell@tn.gov.

Here are the proposed rules as shared with us this summer:

Infused Alcoholic Beverages Not For Immediate Consumption

The rules define “immediate consumption” to mean the mixing and fulfilling of a mixed drink or cocktail order only after receiving the order. Licensees who intend to serve infused drinks should become familiar with the following rules to ensure compliance with Tennessee regulations.

A liquor licensee must:

• Utilize tax-paid alcoholic beverages in the infused drink which are authorized by the license and obtained through the three-tier system,

• Comply with all applicable state and federal food safety regulations, and

• Comply with all federal alcohol regulations.

A liquor licensee cannot:

• Add hallucinogenic substances, added caffeine or stimulants, or controlled substances to a premixed drink.

An infused alcoholic beverage batch must be:

• Disposed of within 72 96 hours of the completion of the infusion process,

• Infused, stored, and consumed on the licensed premises, and

• In a labeled container that is compliant with state and federal food safety statutes.

An infused alcoholic beverage batch cannot be:

• More than three gallons,

• Removed from the licensed premises,

• Infused, stored, or dispensed from an original package of liquor or wine, or a container bearing an alcoholic beverage name brand, and

• Added to a relabeled empty container or another infused alcoholic beverage batch if expired.

Label requirements

A label is required to be on each container that holds an infused alcoholic beverage batch. The label must adhere to the container, in a noticeable place, until the entire contents are dispensed or destroyed.

The label must legibly identify:

• The date and time of infusion of the alcoholic beverages with nonalcoholic ingredients in the container,

• The date and time the contents expire,

• The title of the recipe used for the contents,

• The size of batch, and

• The person who prepared the contents.

Each label must be marked clearly with the words “CONTAINS ALCOHOL.”

Record keeping requirements

Records must be maintained for three years on each prepared batch of premixed drinks.

The records must identify:

• The date and time of infusion of the alcoholic beverages with nonalcoholic ingredients in the container,

• Each alcoholic beverage, including the brand and amount used in the batch,

• Each nonalcoholic ingredient used in the batch,

• The recipe title and directions,

• The size of batch,

• The person who prepared the contents,

• The date and time the contents were destroyed or entirely consumed,

• If not consumed, the method of destruction, and

• The person who destroyed the contents.

Dispensing machines

A dispensing machine that contains a premixed drink is required to follow the labeling, record keeping, and disposal requirements. Licensees who use a dispensing machine that contains a non-alcoholic premix, and add alcoholic beverages after receiving and dispensing a customer order for the beverage, are not required to label the container or maintain records.


• A failure to comply with the above rules will result in a fine, license suspension, and/or license revocation.