Alcohol Virginia is For (Liquor) Lovers!


Bob McDonnell is a self-professed pinot grigio and white zinfandel drinker.

He's also the new Republican governor of Virginia and is taking aim at the commonwealth's oppressive and inefficient state-owned liquor monopoly. More than a dozen states still completely control the sales and distribution of all distilled spirits.

The result? Higher payrolls for state governments (state-workers are public-sector employees after all) and rotten selection and service for customers (state-sanctioned monopolies tend to diminish the shopping experience).

Despite a reputation as a social conservative, McDonnell thinks that state-run liquor stores are a bad idea from both pragmatic and philosophical perspectives. Given budget crises, says McDonnell, "we can't just do things the same old way…. Certainly there's nothing I gleaned from the [Virginia] constitution that would have me think it's better or required to have the government controlling distilled spirits."

States such as West Virginia and Iowa have gained millions of dollars in new tax and license revenues by privatizing liquor sales, says Reason Foundation policy analyst Len Gilroy. And they've also cut government expenditures by millions of dollars as well.

Will Virginia join them? McDonnell invited to come back in a year and check in with him. Sure thing, Mr. Governor. We'll bring the questions. You can bring the white zinfandel.

Approximately 4.30 minutes. Written and produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie, who also hosts. Additional footage: Dan Hayes.

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  1. I wonder what $17,000 tastes like?

    1. Plum nose with hint of oak, black cherry, and currant.

      1. Couldn’t you just get a plum, a piece of oak, black cherries, and currants for like $15?

  2. Almost makes me glad to live in the Old Dominion.

  3. White zinfdandel? Say it ain’t so!

    1. I’ve had at least one really good white zinfandel, a very dry one from the Sonoma area, not the sweet Central Valley crap that has maligned a potentially good wine grape.

      1. Sounds a lot like the fate that has befallen the Riesling. I had some damn good dry and semi-dry Rieslings in Germany, but they’re few and far between here in the States.

        1. Eroica is good wine.

      2. The traditional red Zinfadel has been produced for a long time and is well regarded as a classic Big Red from CA. And there is no reason why you couldn’t make a decent rose from Zin. But as far as I have seen the “White Zin” name has been limited to sweet chick drinks.

    2. White Zinfandel – when a wine cooler is just too damn manly for you.

      1. The fact that he claimed to like White Zin makes me wish the democrat had won.

    3. Ron, you should try the new 2012 White Zin. It’s purdy, pink, and taste good too.

      I was totally waiting for Nick to slide a bottle of Mad dog 20/20 in one of the pockets of the Jacket. Even better if the bottle became invisible. Or, if Nick drank it and became invisible – that’s actually possible from the drinker’s perspective.

  4. Being from the state of Anheuser-Busch (oops…InBev-AB), I had never even heard of a state liquor store until I went to Ohio to work after graduating from college. It was surreal. I went into an ABC store in Akron, trying to buy a bottle of Myer’s Rum, only to be told the Great State of Ohio didn’t carry that brand. Imagine it, a whole fucking state where, by some bureaucrat’s idiocy, one cannot buy a bottle of decent dark rum. It was folly to ever put the state in charge of this to begin with.

  5. “States such as West Virginia and Iowa have gained millions of dollars in new tax and license revenues by privatizing liquor sales”

    I don’t know about WV, but I wouldn’t call the situation in Iowa privatized. All alcohol sales still go through the state. They closed the horrid state-run liquor stores years ago, but buying from any distributor except the state of Iowa is illegal.
    Every few years they talk about scrapping the state role in distribution, but always stop short because it will “cost jobs”.

    1. Right. It’s not an ideal solution by any means, but I’d still call it progress from state-run liquor stores.

  6. Pennsylvania only allows sale of both wine and liquor through its state-owned chain. Truthfully, though, I’ve never had a problem finding what I want, the prices are reasonable, and the staff were not unnecessarily surly.

    The real problem in Pennsylvania is trying to get a six-pack of beer. You better hope you want a case if you want a beer, and then you have to find whatever hobbit hole the beer distributor is in.

  7. The Jacket pairs well with a nice C?tes du Rh?ne.

  8. I took a shit in Pennsylvania once.

  9. If you are planning a party in NOVA, everyone knows to go to montgomery Co liquors in rockville. Its worth the 25 minute ride to get the booze you want at about 20-25% less than VAs prices. I do hope whatever private store pops up in my hood, that Todd & Jim are a part of it. The local VAABC store has had some continuity…and I do enjoy seeing them at least once a week

    1. Montgomery County liquor stores need to be privatized too.

  10. I hate this title for reminding me that this song ever existed.

  11. Here’s hoping NC follows the same path. There’s been some talk of it. You gotta love the fact the government here has a monopoly on something people love and still lose money in some cases.

  12. I remember the first time I took a friend from Ohio through a drive-thru window at a liquor store. The joy and wonderment on his face was amazing. He insisted on always going through the drive-thru.

    1. Ah, I remember the “Brew-Thru” when I lived in North Carolina. Better yet, I experienced what your friend did on my first trip to the Big Easy buying some liquor at a 7-11. No way! Of course, buying a liquor drink at 18 from a guy with a cart immediately after getting off the plane (in the airport) was pretty f-in’ cool too. The decades sure fly by.

  13. Living in Alberta, Canada, which was referenced in the video, I remember when our sainted Premier Ralph Klein (we still love him here, a lot) privatized liquor stores and the DMV in the 90’s. It’s been utterly fantastic. Gone are the dingy, grimy stores with little selection and zero competition. Alberta is a fairly small market, but we can get more or less anything we want here.

    We would never go back. In fact, the only time we ever really remember the old days is when we hear about another province’s unionized liquor store workers threatening a strike before a summer long weekend. Those poor benighted bastards.

  14. Are you guys coming up in the world? You interviewed a state governor! Maybe my expectations were set too low, but this seems like a big deal.

  15. Hey, what can this Va-ex-pat say but that McDonnell is the best VA statewide GOPer since John Warner…

  16. I live In Halifax Nova Scotia (Canada) and unlike those lucky bastards in Alberta we have provincial run liquor stores. On top of the price gouging that they already practice we pay a 10% provincial sales tax and thats on top of the federal sales tax!

  17. You can also see in this video how much margin the VA ABC stores take from distillers:…..at_19.html

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