Virginia ABC gets slightly less archaic

It’s not often that I get to give the Virginia ABC credit for doing something right, so I’m happy to pass this along:

Peter Pflug says he should be able to charge more for mixed drinks at his restaurant and bar in Clarendon, but a long-standing food-to-liquor ratio has hindered his wishes.

The owner of Clarendon Grill was busted by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) a few years ago for failing to maintain the required food-to-liquor ratio — the same time he noticed the nighttime crowd in Arlington County was acquiring a taste for pricier liquor. […]

But that has caused the food-to-liquor ratio to get out of whack in more affluent places such as Arlington because “you can get away with selling $12 martinis as opposed to other parts of the state where you can’t,” Pflug said.

To better balance the 45-to-55 food-to-liquor ratio, Pflug and 11 other Virginia restaurant operators have joined ABC’s two-year pilot project to test an alternative way to calculate the ratio for mixed beverage licensees.

Rather than comparing the percentage of food sales to mixed-beverage sales, the pilot is based on alcohol volume. Participating licensees can sell $350 of food per one gallon of alcohol bought from ABC. Beer and wine aren’t included in either equation.

It’s nice to see that Arlington is trending toward more liquor sales and an appreciation for better spirits and cocktails. However having to tailor one’s menu to result in a ratio of $350 food/one gallon of alcohol is still an absurd way to run a restaurant; this kind of regulation is one reason among many that I can’t imagine ever opening a bar in Virginia. It would be much smarter to eliminate ratios entirely and simply require that food is available to patrons who want it.

[Thanks to Brandon Arnold for the link!]

Brown and Bragg take on the ABC
Banning beer pong
Banning beer popsicles
Banning sangria


5 thoughts on “Virginia ABC gets slightly less archaic”

  1. “Pricier Liquor” at the Grill means Grey Goose “martinis” and $10 shots of patron. This isn’t really a victory for better spirits or cocktails, or bar patrons. Common sense, yes – the ratio rule has always been stupid – but this will just be the same exact stuff they’re serving now marked up by an extra buck or two.

  2. The absurdity food to liquor ratios could be eliminated in Ye Olde Dominion. The exemption of wine and beer seems hypocritical. Virginny is a grown-up state now, and should be able to handle a few taverns in its better areas.

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