Doctored Liquor Legalized in California, Snooty Boozers Rejoice


In the ongoing saga of surprisingly good stuff from California Gov. Jerry Brown—remember "Not every human problem deserves a law"?—this happy news for the Golden State's snooty boozers:

It is no longer illegal for a California bartender to put a basil leaf in a bottle of gin.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown of California announced that he had signed Senate Bill 32, which overturns a legal vestige of Prohibition that made it unlawful to infuse alcohol with fruits, vegetables, herbs or spices. Such infusions have been popular in the country's best cocktail bars for several years, and the old rule became a nuisance early last year when State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents started warning bars like San Francisco's Bourbon & Branch that they were breaking California law with their house-made tinctures and bitters.

And better still, you can get that drink you've been waiting for made with lemongrass-tobacco-bacon bitters (or whatever) tonight!

The bill contains an "urgency clause," which means bars can start slinging their infused concoctions immediately

Tim Cavanaugh reminds us that Gov. Brown's tenure has not been all libertarian sunshine and freedom lollipops.

And documents the plight of the less fortunate bartenders (and alkies) in Virginia:

NEXT: You Call That a Mandatory Minimum?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. A moment of silence for the poor State regulators who just got one of their fangs pulled.

  2. Standard libertarian disclaimers aside, I’d advise people to avoid tobacco infusions. It can be very easy to get a lethal dose of nicotine if the infuser didn’t know exactly what they were doing.

    1. I can’t remember the numbers, but the nicotine in a surprisingly small amount of tobacco would kill a person if ingested all at once.

      1. Pure nicotine is deadly poison. 40-60 milligrams is considered a lethal dose in a human. Therefore, you cannot buy pure nicotine.…..939AAEZaCj

        1. I seem to remember this was covered in The Poor Man’s James Bond.

  3. My god she is pretty!

    1. You’ll make her blush.

  4. Tim Cavanaugh reminds us that Gov. Brown’s tenure has not been all libertarian sunshine and freedom lollipops.

    Tim Cavanaugh: Gentleman lifeguard and Reason wet blanket.

    1. Yeah! He legalized doctored liquor, but when will he legalize liquored Doctors!

  5. Garrick Club Punch

    10 ounces gin
    2 ounces maraschino liqueur
    3 ounces lemon juice
    1 ounce simple syrup
    20 ounces chilled soda water

    Peel the lemon, being careful to remove only the yellow peel and not the bitter white pith. Juice the peeled lemon, measure out 3 ounces of juice and set aside. Add maraschino liqueur and simple syrup to the bowl with lemon peel and muddle until syrup and maraschino are well blended. Add gin, lemon juice, stir until combined; top with the chilled soda water and serve over ice.

    1. Oooooooooooo… thanks!
      How many servings, approx, do you get from that?

      1. About 4. I usually scale it to fit a liter bottle of club soda. Which yields enough for 6. And I usually use lemon-flavored soda water.

        16 oz gin
        5 oz lemon
        4 oz marachino liqueur
        2 oz simple syrup

        You can also follow the first proportions, but trade out the club soda for a bottle of dry sparkling wine.

      2. Also, if you get a bottle of Luxardo maraschino liqueur it opens up the Aviation cocktail, and can be used as the alcohol base to make your own maraschino cherries.

        1. Yeah, I’ve been eyeing the Luxardo for years now. I just never had enough recipes to justify buying it.

          1. Seriously, make your own maraschino cherries. It’s so simple and they are delicious.

            It’s basically just making a syrup by bring to a boil an equal amount of sugar and cherry juice, then mixing that while still warm with a equal amount by volume of the Luxardo and pouring over pitted cherries. A few days in the fridge, and Bob’s your uncle.

            1. How many parts insulin? Faker.

        1. Damn! Beat me to it by ONE MINUTE!

      3. “How many servings, approx, do you get from that?”

        One. Go make your own.

    2. This certainly sounds like a lot of sweetness going into a guy with a badly broken pancreas!


  6. “State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents”

    1) When governmental entities of this sort started appearing, we were all fucked — we just didn’t know it yet.

    2) That sounds like the worst fucking job title in the history of the human race.

  7. So anyway, speaking of liquors and bewiong in California and so on …

    At Burning Man this year, at the end of a long night, I stumbled into the most wonderful little Absinthe bar, run by a group out of California that brews exquisite flavored Absinthe … in no less than 50 varieties. They had their own lovely menu on the counter including such brews as the ‘Monkey Knife Fight’ (Absinthe with tamarind and organge flavor, or soemthing to that effect), and my personal favorite the ‘Bloody Fairy’ (Absinthe and Port Wine).

    I asked them why they don’t open a little boutique bar in SF, and they said that, well, technically it’s illegal to brew absinthe. If not in large quantities than at least in the small amounts they make.

    I don’t know what the statues exactly are, but it sounded like some combination of state laws and federal regulations.

    Perhaps you people are more informed?

    1. So is Burning Man a “must do” for someone to put on the list of things to do?

    2. Federal regulations have no beef with traditionally produced absinthe. Their ban is only on products containing above a certain concentration of the supposed hallucinogen. Traditional absinthe had almost none.

      The state laws shouldn’t even apply, because traditional absinthe is distilled in a manner very similar to gin. So maybe they were just soaking wormwood and anise in vodka?

      1. They mentioned some process involving wormwood infused vodka, then doing something with fennel and ainse to it.

        But this stuff probably had more than the legal amount of hallucinogen, cause everything definitely got glowy after 3 small glasses.

    3. Try St. George absinthe. Expensive as hell, but worth it.

      1. And stay away from anything that is bright green, Czech, or hypes its wormwood content/supposed hallucinogenic properties. Because it’s not true.

        1. I’ve had absinthe that definitely has hallucinogenic properties. I’ve also had it bright green with hallucinogenic propeties.

          I’m sure there are people who put green dye in it. But the stuff I’ve had was green because it was made from freshly picked wormwood. The fresher the wormwood, the greener the color.

          1. The jury is still out but it is unlikely that wormwood is anything more than mildly psychoactive and even less likely to be hallucinogenic.


            1. Well, “hallucinogenic” is kind of a strong term for it.

              What you get is this effect where all the colors seem brighter and kind of glow. That’s about it. You also feel really drunk, which is partly a result of the alcohol and also I think partly an effect of the absinthe itself.

      2. Yeah that stuff is great. The absinthe bar in Austin I liked to go to also made good cocktails with it, including one where they infused the absinthe with blood orange.

  8. “Snooty Boozers” would be an excellent name for a rock band.

  9. I’m afraid to start the video. Too many pornos have similar screencaps…especially with what appears to be a fairly porn-esque hair/facial hair combo on the part of the bartender.

    1. Like Gus said, she’s pretty. So if you don’t watch, it’s your loss.

  10. Not every human problem deserves a law

    Should I ever feel compelled to run a campaign for public office, this is going to be my campaign slogan.

      1. This is the fundamental question for a libertarian.

      2. “I’m here to chew bubblegum and repeal laws. And I’m all outta bubblegum.”

        1. That’s gonna be my bumper sticker.

          1. Run for David Loebsack’s seat and I’ll volunteer to work for my first political campaign.

            1. Thanks to the People’s Republic of Johnson County, Loebsack will stay in office as long as he likes.

              And I no longer reside in his district (according to the proposed new districts).

  11. So, when I infused my vodka with lemon zest and jalapenos I was breaking the law?


  12. The funny thing is that there’s been a place in San Francisco called Infusion since the 1990s. Vodka’s not my thing, but I admire the way they were daring the man to take them down all these years.

  13. Habenero infused tequila is the shit.

    1. That sounds more like it would cause painful shits.

      1. I don’t see how it wouldn’t cause spicy diarrhea.

  14. Yet the law failed to save me from an overpriced bacon-infused bloody mary at Croce’s…What good is the government if they can’t put a stop to bad mixology?

    1. the law did not ban the infusion of alcohol with meat, some ideas are so bad that the legislators probably figured even if one person were stupid enough to create a bacon-infused-bloody-mary there would be no other person stupid enough to drink it. obviously there were no drinkers back then to set them straight. note. no matter how bad you hangover, do NOT drink a gin bloody mary – rum sure, whiskey of your hangover is bad enough and even metaxa can work in a bad situation but gin absolutely should never be combined with tomato juice.

  15. Let the drinking commence! Thanks for the cocktail recipes. Y’all have a nice weekend!

  16. Tonight I’m infusing my gin with sour apple lik-a-stix powder.

    See you on the other side.

    1. Dude, ur ghey.

  17. I watched the video. It showed a man giving a woman a cocktail. Sadly, it wasn’t pornographic…

    1. Dang, I haven’t seen you post in awhile, merkin.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.