Last week we broke the news that the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission had (somewhat arbitrarily) determined that house-infused spirits in restaurants and bars were illegal and that they would begin soon fining establishments selling such tasty concoctions. The day after the story was published, TABC director Keith Bell sent out a new memo stating that the crackdown would start July 1, leaving connoisseurs of craft cocktails just over a week left to get all their drinking done.
Thankfully, we can now bring you news that TABC has reconsidered their position, presumably after all the public outcry and legal pressure made it seem slightly untenable. In a memo issued today, Bell states that he's willing to work towards a compromise (or something):
Hopefully what this delay in enforcement means is that TABC will hold off doing anything until the legislature takes up the issue next winter. However, if Bell remains committed to pushing for changes in the law that are similar to Iowa's, the cocktail scene in Tennessee could still be dramatically curtailed. Let's hope the hospitality industry lobbyists and lawyers can come with better legislation, and that the anti-alcohol idiots in the legislature don't derail it.To All Interested Parties:Although the process of manufacturing infused alcoholic beverages, not for the consumer's immediate consumption, by and on the premises of a Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) licensee's on premises liquor by the drink restaurant remain violations of the Tennessee Code and TABC Rules, the TABC has nevertheless determined it to be in the public interest that the regulatory enforcement of this prohibition be indefinitely suspended in order to formulate workable guidelines and definitions so as to gauge the growing and changing taste and desires of the consuming public.Sincerely,E. Keith Bell, Attorney at Law