State to enforce infused alcohol ban - WSMV Channel 4

State to enforce infused alcohol ban

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

A law in Tennessee is changing what types of drinks can be served at your favorite bars and restaurants.

The state's Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) will start to enforce a ban on house-made infused alcohol starting July 1.

Owners worry it could stunt what they are calling a growing cocktail scene in the state.

The bar managers and owners that Channel 3 talked to said making their own infused alcohol is a way to create unique and flavorful drinks.

With new bars and restaurants popping up all over Chattanooga, the quest to stand out could be more difficult.

Some Chattanooga bars have work to do, after the TABC announced it will begin to enforce a law passed in 2006 that bans bars from making their own infused alcohol.

"It probably affects about a quarter of our cocktail menu right now, both our featured list and the list that we have all year long," says Laura Kelton.

Laura Kelton is the bar manager at Easy Bistro on Broad Street. She says the bar has been infusing alcohol for about eight years now.

"It allows a little bit more creativity in your product, and it's going to challenge us creatively to go through and fix some of these," says Kelton.
 
It's a simple and popular process. You take fresh cut fruit or vegetables, add liquor and have it sit for a few days so the flavors infuse.

"Which is a part of really every bar program that cares about making cocktails in the state," says Nathan Lindley.

Nathan Lindley owns The Social at Public House. He questions the TABC's timing.

"It just seems like a strange time to enforce it, given the openings of lots of new bars and restaurants in town and in the state," says Lindley.

TABC director Keith Bell tells Channel 3 in an email that only a permitted distillery can infuse alcohol.

He cites health concerns and a law that requires alcohol to be poured out of its original container.

Bell says the commission has attempted to educate bars and restaurants and now the law will be fully enforced come July 1.

"I definitely think that the guests will be upset about this," Kelton says. "We've got a lot of featured drinks that have been on the menu for years and years that are definitely dear favorites of our regulars here."

Kelton says she wants her guests to know it's won't be the end of their favorite drink; they just need to come up with a new way to create the flavor.

Again, this affects only mixed alcoholic drinks which sit for days or even weeks, that don't come straight from a distillery.

Bars must mix it and serve it immediately.

Every bar owner and manager Channel 3 spoke with off-and on-camera say they will comply with the law, but they hope it will soon be changed.

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