ABC Despicable: California Blue Laws

Lately, several San Francisco bars have been raided (an exaggeration, but nobody wants to read “sternly spoken to”) by overzealous agents from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for unlicensed rectification.

Their crime: infusing booze.

Based on poor interpretation of outmoded laws written to prevent crooked bar owners from tampering with and diluting bottled spirits, the ABC is cracking down on cocktail bars for putting extra effort into making superior drinks.  One such great effort is to macerate herbs, fruits and spices in hard alcohol to imbue them with vibrant, rich and complex flavors.

Nobody is being mislead.  When someone orders a cocktail made with cucumber basil gin, nobody is upset to discover the gin was infused with cucumber and basil. No harm, no foul.

By their logic, bartenders break the law every time they make a cocktail, adding bitters or juices, and even diluting it and changing the molecular structure when they shake it with ice! For shame.

I guess I’ll choose to take this as a good sign, because if the ABC has the manpower to put into preventing bartenders from making their own cherry vodka, then they must have already eradicated the  bars that serve underage drinkers, and cause mayhem in neighborhoods with the drunken, rowdy crowds that spill out into the streets.

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