Alcohol

Free to Brew: Alabama’s war on margaritas

Cameron Smith uncovered Alabama’s overzealous alcohol control board attempting to ban the sale of pitchers of margaritas to adults. He explains how his team was able to help …

Moonshine is not just an American thing

Growing up in this great country of ours, I got the impression that moonshine was a peculiarly American phenomenon. The Dukes of Hazzard television show (1979-1985) and films like Gator served …

The strange war on alcohol advertising

Earlier this year, a drumbeat began to ban drinks advertising. There was the Washington Post, which ran an article titled: “For women, heavy drinking has been normalized. That’s dangerous.” To ensure …

Alabama ABC reverses margarita pitcher ban but questions remain

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) didn't want you wasting away in Margaritaville, so they banned pitchers of the frozen concoction outright. Then I called them out …

Alabama backs down on targeting margarita pitchers

In these hot summer months, nothing refreshes like a margarita. But in Alabama, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board had banned pitchers of this limey and refreshing libation. Seriously. R …

Alabama ABC says ‘no’ to Margaritaville with pitcher ban

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) doesn't want you wasting away in Margaritaville, so they've banned pitchers of the frozen concoction outright. No, I'm not joking. But we shouldn't …

Flying Dog loves the ‘F’ word

“You can say f— in front of the CEO and it’s not a big deal,” says Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso. In fact, as unbelievable as it might …

Today’s whiskey is not yesterday’s — thank goodness

Some years ago, I attended a tasting where the representative of a well-known Scotch company claimed the whisky his firm makes today tastes the same as it did …

Legislature and Gov. Ivey pass bottle on tax hike to ABC Board

We don't need the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in Alabama. It's a bureaucratic dinosaur waiting for its extinction-level event. Now, the ABC has done the dirty work of …

Indiana doubles down on warm beer

Indiana lawmakers recently announced that they plan to study the state’s outdated alcohol laws this summer with an eye toward reforming them for the 21st century. While this …

Freeing the Booze: A recent court case could upend the alcohol industry

WASHINGTON (June 13, 2017) – A recent South Carolina Supreme Court decision could be a game-changer when it comes to ending oppressive and protectionist alcohol regulation regimes across …

Could economic liberty litigation ‘free the booze?’

The attached policy study originated as a three-part blog post series for the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy. The South Carolina Supreme Court recently struck down a …

Who is to blame for the Seven and Seven?

R Street Vice President of Policy Kevin Kosar badgers the Toronto writer Adam McDowell. Kevin Kosar: Congrats on the publication of Drinks: A User’s Guide (Tarcher, 2016). It’s a smart-looking book, and I …

The Bloody Mary: An unlikely breakfast of champions

Mmmm, breakfast. What appeals to the mouth and stomach at the early hour when the birds are singing and the sun’s rays are spraying over the horizon? Something …

Cheers to promoting free-market principles in liquor sales

The Florida Legislature last week acted to join the majority of states in modernizing its alcohol sales laws. Senate Bill 106, which currently awaits Gov. Rick Scott's signature, …

Credit Where It’s Due: D.C.’s forward-looking liquor laws

For those outside the Beltway, Washington is often a punchline for bloated and dysfunctional government. In fact, cynicism toward the nation’s capital often feels like one of the …

Will Gov. Kay Ivey un-Bentley the ABC’s liquor tax hike?

The bureaucrats of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) are poised to pass a legally suspect tax hike and the Alabama Legislature is complicit. The only question left …

Cameron Smith talks Alabama’s backdoor booze tax.

R Street's Cameron Smith joined the Matt & Aunie Show on Birmingham's Talk 99.5 to discuss backdoor booze taxes in Alabama. Audio of the show is embedded below. …

Applying heightened scrutiny to protectionist alcohol laws

While protectionist alcohol laws might appear to be nothing more than garden variety restrictions on economic liberty, the role of Prohibition and its subsequent repeal add an additional …

American Whiskey Trail tour, Day Five

Don't get me wrong — Jack Daniel's is a very impressive company. Its sales growth over the past 40 years is mind-boggling. During the 1970 and 1980s, most …

American Whiskey Trail tour, Day Four

Thirty years ago, most whiskey distilleries were lonely places — industrial factories in remote rural areas. For the most part, the proprietors of these places saw themselves as …

North Carolina’s beer pong battle

A legislative battle currently is brewing that could determine whether North Carolina beer-makers will still be able to sell and market their own beer. The result could have …

‘Anything goes’ rational basis versus rational basis ‘with bite’

The fight over how to treat economic liberty under the Constitution has been as lengthy as it has been acrimonious. Under current constitutional jurisprudence, certain types of recognized …

R Street applauds passage of bill bringing alcohol freedom to Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 26, 2017) – The walls separating Florida's supermarkets and big box stores from their liquor-store annexes could soon be coming down, as state lawmakers have …

American Whiskey Trail tour, Day Three

It was difficult to feel anything but awe standing in front of the still at Jim Beam's main distillery. It is six-stories tall and 200 gallons of beer pour into …

American Whiskey Trail tour, Day Two

We all have heard the story: manufacturing is dying in America. All the good blue-collar jobs are moving to Mexico and China. America's middle-class employment has been hollowed …

Could economic liberty litigation free the booze?

The South Carolina Supreme Court recently struck down a state law limiting how many liquor retail outlets an individual or business could own within the Palmetto State. According to …

American Whiskey Trail tour, Day One

Where better to start a tour of the American Whiskey Trail than at Mount Vernon? George Washington often has been called the father of our grand nation — the prototype …

Troops shouldn’t have to wait until they’re 21 to drink

The following op-ed was co-authored by C. Jarrett Dieterle, governance project fellow with the R Street Institute. When 19-year-old Purple Heart recipient Marine Cpl. Samuel “Lee”  Anderson was injured by a …

Let all S.C. liquor stores compete on the same level

Until very recently, South Carolina liquor store owners were only allowed to operate up to three retail outlets in the Palmetto State. The decades-old cap was struck down …

Beer industry on the brink

“You’re probably going to get fat.” These were some of the many words of warning handed out by Liquid Mechanics CEO Davin Helden during his talk on what it …

How cronyism threatens Louisiana’s craft breweries

Louisiana is well-known for its love of both food and alcohol. The state is a tourist destination for those looking both to enjoy excellent dining and to have …

Age restrictions on smoking, drinking and driving

State legislatures have been lobbied in a coordinated effort, called Tobacco 21, to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21 years. Hawaii, California and …

America’s gonzo drinks history

Steven Grasse’s Colonial Spirits is the wackiest drinks book I have ever read. (I state this with admiration, and a bit of jealousy.) And I’ve read more than my share, …

Raising alcohol taxes is a bad bet for West Virginia

In the budget proposal, Gov. Jim Justice proposes expanding revenues for the state’s coffers by raising both beer taxes and the markup on distilled spirits. The same markup …

Tear down the wall and let the free market in

ABC Fine Wine & Liquors, Florida’s largest alcohol retail chain, struck a deal last year with a mobile app service to start offering one-hour alcohol delivery with the …

Dieterle talks Virginia distilling regs on Freedom and Prosperity Radio

R Street Governance Policy Fellow C. Jarrett Dieterle joined host Joe Thomas on Virginia's Freedom and Prosperity Radio -- sponsored by the Virginia Public Policy Institute -- to …

Tito’s Vodka isn’t the only good distilled spirit out of Texas

When you think of Texas alcohol, you usually think of good ole Shiner beer. The state is more famous for its beer than anything else. However, some new …

Shifting drinks law landscape in Pennsylvania is a maze for businesses

The alcohol-policy landscape in Pennsylvania was static—almost glacial—for most of the past 40 years. However, these days, the glaciers are melting and the landscape is changing rapidly. New …

Appalachia ain’t just moonshine anymore

It’s not often one can take several weeks off, pile into a car, and hit the open road without any significant responsibilities piling up (or email inboxes overflowing). …

The New Gender Battle: Tampons versus whiskey

It’s getting increasingly difficult to mock the California Legislature given the fusillade of nearly unbelievable legislation that makes its way through the Capitol’s hallowed halls. In the old days, when …

‘Gender injustice’ behind call to reduce taxes on tampons

In his veto message of a series of tax-reduction bills last September, Gov. Jerry Brown explained that “tax breaks are the same as new spending – they both cost the …

Texas bill would end wine protectionism

For her last birthday, my wife got a gift she couldn’t use. Literally. A thoughtful family member had given her a gift card for an online wine retailer. …

Dieterle talks distilling restrictions on ‘Free to Brew’ podcast

R Street Governance Project Fellow Jarrett Dieterle joined the Free to Brew podcast to discuss regulatory issues around alcohol distillers, particularly in Virginia, which has some of the …

So many drinks laws: An interview with food policy expert Baylen Linnekin

In his recent book, Biting the Hands That Feed Us (Island Press, 2016), food-policy scholar Baylen Linnekin exposes many of America’s nightmare food laws. From the so-called “cheese …

Fighting for booze equality on ‘Alcohol Alley’

On paper, Silverback Distillery in rural Afton, Virginia, should be considered an All-American success story. The husband-and-wife team of Denver and Christine Riggleman opened Silverback in 2014. Denver …

Good Alco-News: America’s spirits business is booming

The U.S. drinks business is booming, despite the finger-wagging by neo-prohibitionists. Last year’s liquor volume sales climbed 2.4 percent to 220 million cases, and revenues were up 4.5 …

Beer can battles in Texas

What’s the difference between a beer can and a mayonnaise jar? It sounds like the opening to a bad joke, but it’s also the basis for a legal …

Warming winter whiskeys

I am a seasonal drinker. What tastes best to me in the summer swelter is not what I hoist in the chillier months. Since the cold began its …

Raft of new state laws are going–or have gone–into effect

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed 898 bills into law last year. Most take effect Jan. 1, but others go into effect in coming years. The majority of new laws deal …

The insidious campaign of ‘soft’ prohibitionists

This week's Repeal Day (Dec. 5) marked 83 years since the dreadful social experiment of Prohibition finally was killed. We think we live in strange times today, but what …

Regulators chase cat from bar and are shocked when mice appear

One of New York City’s oldest bars recently was shut down for a few days. McSorley’s Old Ale House has operated in the East Village for 162 years and …

Finding a 21st century system for booze

Traverse City, Michigan (population 15,000), is a gorgeous bay town near the northern end of Lake Michigan. The town, which oozes charm, has very good restaurants and genial …

Alabama’s ABC is little more than a Prohibition hangover

With all the focus on Alabama's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) cracking down on sidewalk alcohol sales, it might have been easy to miss its stern warning about following alcohol …

Unusual drinks (part 1)

There is something very satisfying about having a go-to drink. After a long day of work and kid care, a glass of whiskey is very welcome. The Kosar …

Congress may lower taxes on drinks

The Beer Institute recently reported some happy news: 51 U.S. senators support a bill to lower federal drink taxes. The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of …

Stanford’s batty booze ban

The mercury is trending downward, the leaves are turning red and orange and fresh faces flood campuses across our nation. Autumn is back. It’s a lovely annual recurrence. At …

Texas limits on out-of-state alcohol may be headed to the Supreme Court

It’s been a busy summer for booze-related litigation in Texas. I’ve written previously about the successful challenge by craft brewers to a 2013 law that makes them give …

Confab: The big Trump immigration extravaganza

From the Weekly Standard: In this episode of THE WEEKLY STANDARD Confab, Fred Barnes talks about The Donald's attention-grabbing immigration-policy show, and Kevin Kosar comes by to tell us …

Carrie Nation, M.D.: The neo-prohibitionists are on the march

To a degree, the British government’s recent freak-out over alcohol is understandable. The nation's tabloids regularly carry stories featuring individuals getting falling-down drunk and doing stupid things. "Drunk …

From congressional bootleggers to Beltway booze bans

From American Spectator: Fans of the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire will no doubt recall the series’ many Prohibition-era scenes featuring high-level politicians rubbing elbows with bootleggers and openly imbibing …

From congressional bootleggers to Beltway booze bans

Fans of the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire will no doubt recall the series' many Prohibition-era scenes featuring high-level politicians rubbing elbows with bootleggers and openly imbibing in private, …

Texas court invalidates restrictions on craft brewers

The forces of boozy liberty won a big victory Thursday when an Austin judge declared unconstitutional a 2013 law that required craft brewers to give away distribution rights …

Welcome to Virginia, where the whiskey’s strong and the government’s stronger

Craft distilling may be undergoing a renaissance, but in the shadow of George Washington’s Mount Vernon (home to one of the nation’s first distilleries), you can barely get …

Revised rules for whiskey labeling? Proceed with caution

Craft distillers often complain about the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 Code of Federal Regulations 5), a set of labeling rules enforced by the Tax …

A Soviet drinks monopoly in Maryland

Maryland’s Montgomery County is a nice place. Its western border runs along the Potomac River and its southern territory abuts Washington. Many folks who work in the district …

Warren Buffett versus the three-tier drinks system

In Texas, as in much of the nation, alcohol is regulated under the so-called “three-tier system,” which requires alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers to be separate and independent …

Will the CDC let us drink in peace this Fourth of July?

As Independence Day approaches Monday, one wonders if the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will follow its recent pattern and release some scary anti-alcohol …

History Revised: Meet the slave responsible for Jack Daniel’s whiskey

From Men's Journal: Kevin Kosar, senior fellow at the R Street Institute think tank and author of Whiskey: A Global History, says it’s a difficult task to accurately tell …

Virginia’s infamous food-beverage ratio prioritizes cronyism over consumers

Virginia may be for lovers, but the state's draconian liquor laws make nights out on the town not so lovely. The commonwealth is home to some of America's worst …

Do we still need the three-tier system for alcohol?

The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which repealed Prohibition, left it up to the states to regulate the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. The states did …

My Father’s Day drinks wish list

Man does not live by bread alone. And a father, well, he needs even more, what with the middle-of-the-night wake-ups, the tantrums and the exploded filthy diapers. I …

Pennsylvania’s drinks reform changes too little

From American Spectator: The Keystone State’s Legislature could have gone big. Instead, it settled for a bill that is about as potent as near beer. Only the politicians are …

Worry about bad marijuana—not Big Marijuana

From Brookings Institution: The three-tier system aimed to deter the vertical integration of the tied-house days, but now is controversial with critics who argue that the distribution tier is …

Pennsylvania’s drinks reform changes too little

The Keystone State’s Legislature could have gone big. Instead, it settled for a bill that is about as potent as near beer. Only the politicians are likely to …

Pennsylvania’s awful alcohol laws turn rational citizens into criminals

I am a criminal. I regularly break the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At least once a month, I drive across the border to New Jersey, pull …

Bourbon can be made anywhere — even Ohio

Sitting on my desk is a tumbler of bourbon. Its deep amber color shines out through the dewy glass. Tom’s Foolery is its whimsical name. It is 90 proof (45 …

The 21st Amendment continues to choke the drinks trade

Tennessee recently passed a law limiting any company from owning more than two liquor-store licenses. Why? Well, current holders of liquor licenses don’t want out-of-state grocery chains to …

Pennsylvania’s bad beer regulation system lives on

Eight years down the road, supermarket beer sales are changing the entire alcohol beverage sales category in Pennsylvania, and not for the better. Given our state's comically byzantine …

Nasty politics may kill drinks reform in Colorado

Colorado loves its drinks. It is the home of Stranahan’s whiskey and great microbrews too numerous to list. The Rocky Mountain State also is the home of the …

Let’s end discrimination in the drinks market

Everyone has heard this basic truth many times: the amount of alcohol is the same in a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor, a 4 ounce glass of wine …

Let’s free the antique alcohol market

It seems like every month, I get an email or two from strangers asking me the same question. They read something like this: “Hi. My elderly father died, …

The Washington Post’s ‘Reefer Madness’ campaign against booze

I enjoy Christopher Ingraham’s writing for The Washington Post. His WonkBlog posts are data-heavy, which makes them interesting. Like Ingraham, I have serious concerns about America’s long war on …

A maddening whiskey shortage

Tennessee is known for many things: country music, Elvis’s Graceland estate, beautiful mountains, and fine liquor. The state produces both moonshine (some of which is now being made …

Anti-party law turns innocent kids into criminals

Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker got into GOP politics because of his “belief in individual liberty, limited government and a free market,” according to the party’s …

Saloon Series: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day right with Irish drinks old and new

Some years ago, I lived in New York and had two friends recently arrived from Ireland. Neither of them thought well of America’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Considering …

Saloon Series: Exploring the whiskey world at Whisky Live USA

Whisky Live USA, the fabulous salute to a marvelous drink, rolled into Washington this past week. A month previous, Whisky Live USA was in New York and come …

Democrats under the influence

In late August 2014, five California legislators were photographed having a fun-seeming time on the balcony outside of the legislative chambers. At the center of the scene was …

Saloon Series: The government is crushing the wine industry, literally

On Dec. 10, 2015 in Creedmoor, Texas, the U.S. government destroyed more than 500 bottles of wine. The image of a massive sledge falling upon bottles of wine, …

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