Bars told to stop serving infused alcoholic drinks after '06 law - KPTV - FOX 12

Bars told to stop serving infused alcoholic drinks after 2006 law

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The state plans to start enforcing a law that has been on the books for years but no one seemed to know about. And soon, some popular cocktails may be off the menu at your favorite bars and restaurants.

The law bans alcoholic drinks that include fruit, herbs or any other special ingredients.

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission recently sent a letter to businesses that says drinks like sangria are not allowed, and the enforcement will kick in July 1.

Response from businesses has been huge, and at least one restaurant owner says until something changes, he plans to ignore it.

"Craft drinks have become much more omnipresent throughout Tennessee," said Randy Rayburn, owner of Sunset Grill, Midtown Cafe and Cabana.

When it comes to alcoholic beverages these days, you name it, and the bartender can probably make it. But, soon, if it's a bacon-infused martini, vodka flavored with fruit or another specialty cocktail, there's a good chance you won't be able to have it.

"We will not be able to serve that legally to anyone," Rayburn said.

The ABC's memo says infusing or blending alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic products is prohibited by a law that dates back to 2006.

It's left some bar owners confused and concerned.

"All businesses want to do is know what the rules are they are supposed to comply by," said Terry Chen, general manager of Marche.

Others, like Rayburn, are pushing for an interpretation by the attorney general.

"This discussion cannot wait until the next general session of the legislature, and I think the ABC board needs to look into it immediately," Rayburn said.

In an email to Channel 4 News, ABC Director Keith Bell said the state has health concerns. Infused bottles often don't have labels with ingredients or dates of creation and expiration. He also said federal law prohibits infusion without a distillery permit and that it can only be done at a distillery plant, not a bar.

As for why they are going to start enforcement now, Bell said businesses were notified in November 2012 and again in January. He said, at this point, the businesses may be ignoring the rule or refusing to comply.

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