Back in February of last year, the state alcohol board began a bizarre crackdown in San Francisco on bars serving house-infused liquor. Citing a post-Prohibition-era law pertaining to the alteration of distilled spirits — originally meant to protect people from bad moonshine — they showed up one night at popular artisanal cocktail bar Rickhouse and slapped them with a hefty fine over some infused bourbon. Much freaking out amongst the cocktail cognoscenti ensued. Even sangria, by their definition, might have constituted illegal "rectification." But now, eighteen months later, as the Chronicle reports, Senator Mark Leno has finally gotten a bill through the Assembly that will allow bartenders to return to the practice of making their own infusions with impunity, assuming Governor Brown signs it.
After the initial kerfuffle and all the press about it, and after Leno first introduced the bill in December, the ABC quieted down and curtailed their crackdown. Pretty much every bartender we know continued putting citrus peels in their vodka and whathaveyou — and high-profile restaurants like Zuni Café, which has long made their own lemon-infused Stoli, never stopped. (Also, we never heard about said crackdown anywhere else in the state besides San Francisco, which seemed sort of fishy.) But soon, at least, mixologists can stop worrying that their herb- and spice-laden concoctions are violating the law.
We just hope Leno wrote the bill to protect barrel-aged cocktails too, because we can just see that being the next ridiculous item on the ABC’s crackdown agenda.
CA bars may soon be able to serve infused alcohol [Chron]
Earlier: Leno Introduces Bill to Protect Infused Booze, Admits He Prefers Plain Vodka
More Details Emerge About the ABC’s Infused Booze Bust
Bars Running Scared as Alcohol Board Cracks Down on Infused Booze