More Virginia ABC idiocy

Enough ragging on Alabama. Virginia’s alcohol laws are ridiculously archaic too. The latest: The VA ABC has fined local Spanish restaurant La Tasca for serving genuine sangria:

The fruity cocktail of wine and brandy that is a must-have at Spanish restaurants violates a law that forbids mixing wine or beer with spirits. If convicted, a bartender could go to jail for a year…

The state prohibits combining wine or beer and spirits and pre-mixing or storing drinks outside their original containers, except for those in approved frozen-drink dispensers.

Officials say the goal is to show customers that they are getting what they asked for and to show regulators that the alcohol has been purchased from the state, as is required in Virginia.

The ABC seems determined to ruin places I enjoy. Their previous assaults include shutting down beer pong at Dr. Dremo’s, closing Best Cellars for not selling enough food with its wine, forbidding Rustico to sell hopsicles, and ending pitcher margaritas at Mexicali Blues. It’s hard to imagine a more consumer-unfriendly agency.


  1. Jerry Moore says:

    I understand that the VA ABC board is also threatening bar owners liquor license if they allow bikers to come in wearing their colors. Have you seen or heard any of this?

  2. The VA ABC Broad has posted notices at biker friendly bars in the Richmond area stating they can not be servered if they wear colors or belong to a “gang”. Here is the website to view the Richmond City Council meeting on 05/18/09 regarding the Anti-club/Anti-biker Regulations. It is very hard to hear at the begining. but if you push the timer at the botton of the video to 25 minutes that is when it starts to get interesting. The whole thing is about an hour long, but the best part is when the indiviual club members get up to speak, which is the last 30-35 minutes.
    From our lawyer’s email:
    The current law does not mention motorcycle clubs at all. In essence 4.1-225 states that if the owner of a restaurant which has an ABC license allows criminal street gangs to meet in his establishment they can yank his license. Code 18.2-46.1 defines a criminal street gang as a group with a common sign or insignia, which has as ones of its main objectives or activities the commission of one or more criminal activities, and whose members individually or collectively have been convicted of two or more crimes which are listed (it’s a long list) in that code one of which must be a violent crime. That is the short and sweet of it.
    Now, how can I as a bar owner know who is and is not a criminal street gang? I can’t, which is why I believe the statute to be unconstitutional. What we have is ABC going to establishments saying that club x and club y are criminal street gangs so if you let them in your license is at risk. The problem is that many owners are afraid to go against ABC because if they lose their license they lose their livelihood. Many owners, in order to avoid any risk, may just say no colors at all. They would have a right to do that since it is private property. There would be no recourse against the state unless we can show some specific illegal governmental coercion. However, that requires cooperation from the owner as well.
    Matt Danielson
    Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group
    Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists

  3. D.J. says:

    I live in VA.

    On my 21st birthday I was at a restaurant and ordered a beer. I showed my ID to the waiter and he brought the other people’s drinks and I shrugged it off as him handing us our drinks separately. Then a waitress comes up and says that they aren’t allowed to serve alcohol on the birthday that the people (I’m guessing ABC agents) came in last month and said that you weren’t allowed to buy alcohol until you were 21 years and one day old. We thought she was joking because sometimes the waiters and waitresses like to joke around with me and my family as we are frequent customers to that particular restaurant. Then we figured out she was serious.

    THe sticker on the wall says that you can’t buy alcohol if you were not born ON or BEFORE this date in 1988. Isn’t that false advertisement? Also, I researched on the Virginia ABC website and I found nothing saying that you had to wait until the day after you turn 21 to purchase alcohol.

  4. ABC law such as the one relating to gangs is ludicrous. It can be challenged on so many different grounds that if it were ever put to the test, it would fail.

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