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


10 bottles

Kaiser Penguin throws down a challenge to the cocktail bloggers:

What if you could only have 10 bottles of alcohol for the rest of your life? Obviously the bottles would be replenishable, but you could never have any other spirits or even brands of a particular spirit. What would you choose?

I’m interpreting the question as being about what I actually use on a regular basis rather than what I’d use if I had an infinite budget. I’m also assuming beer doesn’t count, or else at least half these bottles would be replaced by ales. So by way of procrastinating on the things I really should be working on, here’s the ten bottles I feel like I reach for the most and would most miss:

Plymouth gin
Bulleit bourbon
Lagavulin 16-year-old Scotch
10 Cane rum
Noilly Prat sweet vermouth
Noilly Prat dry vermouth
Luxardo Maraschino
Chartreuse (green)
St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

No vodka. I’m starting to appreciate it more, but for the most part I feel like most things that are made with vodka just get better with gin. Tequila, rye, and the various brandies I’d miss much more. Much as I’d like to include absinthe, there’s just not enough point without the rye and cognac. If I could add an eleventh it would be Deniset Klainguer violette liqueur. It’s not versatile enough to make my top ten, but it sure would be frustrating having all the other ingredients for an Aviation on hand and not being able to make one. Actually, that’s the feeling I have in a lot of bars.

Anyone else want to play?

Update: This is hard, I’m changing my mind already. How did I forget Cointreau? Chartreuse, you’re cut. Cointreau, you’re in.


Spirited stigma

Now that I’m off employer-provided health insurance I’ve had to apply for individual coverage. The application understandably asks if I consume alcohol. Weirdly, it also asks what kind of alcohol: beer, wine, or liquor. I don’t know how to answer that. How many people who drink limit themselves to just one category? Oddly enough, as I was completing the application I was experimenting with a cocktail made with spirits and beer; even at that very moment I couldn’t answer the question accurately.

A more interesting question is why they were asking that. The health benefits of moderate wine consumption are well known, but they appear to accrue equally from consuming beer and liquor, and the application specifically notes the equivalence among 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1 ounce of liquor. I suspect that the question might be a kind of profiling, reflecting an assumption that people who admit to predominately drinking liquor are more likely to have problems with excessive drinking. Statistically, this might be true, but it doesn’t apply in my case. So I answered beer on the form, given that I enjoy it about as often as I do harder spirits.

Is there some other reason for the question of which I’m unaware?