Friday, February 26, 2010

California ABC Cracks Down on Bay Area Beverages

Photo by Kat Wade of the SF Chronicle

In San Francisco (and the greater Bay Area in general) the mixing of a good cocktail is considered an artform. People take it very seriously. They know who the good bartenders are, where they are, and what time their shift starts. Ask almost anybody around here where you can get a decent Gin & Tonic, and they'll ask if you like your tonic homemade. They can point you in the direction of a good Pisco Sour, the best Manhattan, or a proper Gimlet.

Small batch distillers tend to do pretty well around here, and there are a ton of places infusing their own liquors. Finding a house-made infusion on a menu tends to make my eyes light up (it's something I've attempted on my own in the past with Meyer lemons and vodka, and I loved the results...) but those concoctions may be a thing of the past in California, if the Alcoholic Beverage Control has it's way. They're cracking down on establishments infusing their own liquors: a policy that makes no sense, considering that these infused liquors pose basically no health risk.

The master distiller at one of my favorite local spots, St. George Spirits in Alameda, had this to say in response to the crack down, "alcohol is a fantastic solvent. Not only is it biologically intert - nothing can survive in it - it also has a way of pulling all of the flavorful oils from the skin of whatever you're working with."

Today's San Francisco Chronicle has a front page article about the crack-down and the response. The Bay Area is already up in arms about it. I'll be interested to see if the ABC has evidence of actual cases where house-infused liquors have made anyone sick. It doesn't seem likely, and in truth, seems like a totally frivolous use of resources and funds in this already cash-strapped state.

You can read the article here.

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