Alcohol

Alabama Bans Margarita Pitchers, Declaring Them Adulterated

Regulators say six separate drinks are fine, but combining them in one vessel is a crime.

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Taco Mama

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) recently informed Will Haver, founder and CEO of the Taco Mama restaurant chain, that he was breaking the law by serving his customers pitchers of margaritas. That edict, which was accompanied by the threat of a fine up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail per pitcher, was based on a counterintuitive interpretation of a law that has been on the books for decades:

It shall be unlawful…for any person to fortify, adulterate, contaminate, or in any manner change the character or purity of alcoholic beverages from that as originally marketed by the manufacturer, except that a retail licensee on order from a customer may mix a chaser or other ingredients necessary to prepare a cocktail or mixed drink for on-premises consumption.

According to ABC General Counsel Bob Hill, mixing a single cocktail does not qualify as adulteration, but putting several in a pitcher does. The problem, as ABC spokesman Dean Argo explains it in an interview with R Street Institute Vice President Cameron Smith, is that the alcohol in a pitcher of mixed drinks tends to settle to the bottom. "The person who is poured the first or second drink may receive only a .25 to .5 ounce of alcohol," Argo tells Smith, "where a person receiving the third, fourth or even fifth pour may receive much more alcohol than mix."

I'm no chemist, but that explanation seems dubious to me. If the ingredients in a margarita separated, wouldn't the alcohol migrate toward the top, since it is less dense than water or lime juice? Perhaps what Argo means is that the first and second servings of a frozen margarita tend to contain more ice, which would reduce the alcohol content. But if the margaritas are served on the rocks (the way most of them seem to be served at Taco Mama, where "frozen" is one of a dozen varieties), melting ice would tend to make later servings weaker.

In any case, the ABC's reading of the law is outlandish, especially in light of the explicit statutory exception for mixed drinks. If six margaritas in separate glasses are not adulterated, pouring them into one vessel cannot make them so. The ban on adulteration is aimed at protecting consumers from being cheated or endangered by trickery behind the bar, not from getting exactly what they want, which for many Taco Mama customers is a pitcher of margaritas.

Pressing Argo on the ABC's logic, Smith asks whether it would be legal for a bar to sell a pitcher of margarita mix alongside six shots of tequila. "I can't [see] anything that would prohibit that," Argo says. "The patron would [be] able to tell exactly the amount of alcohol he or she is getting and the server/bartender would be able to know when the patron becomes overserved."

Smith is puzzled: "So the real danger is the alcohol settling in the pitcher, but that's only a problem if a bartender mixes it? If the patron does the exact same thing on the other side of the bar, then it's completely reasonable….You truly have to be overserved to buy that kind of nonsense."

Trying to impress upon Smith the hazards of tolerating margaritas in pitchers, Argo trots out a parade of horribles. "If one licensee is allowed to serve mixed drinks in a pitcher," he says, "then other licensees would have to be allowed to serve mixed drinks." That could include not only margaritas, Argo warns, but even rum and Coke. Who would want to live in such a world?

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  1. “The person who is poured the first or second drink may receive only a .25 to .5 ounce of alcohol,” Argo tells Smith, “where a person receiving the third, fourth or even fifth pour may receive much more alcohol than mix.”

    I’m drinking the whole damn thing myself anyway. Why does this matter?

    1. “If one licensee is allowed to serve mixed drinks in a pitcher,” he says, “then other licensees would have to be allowed to serve mixed drinks.” That could include not only margaritas, Argo warns, but even rum and Coke

      Nothing wrong with that. Hell, there’s a place in Tucson that used to only serve 1 beer and pitchers of rum and coke. People continued to survive there.

    2. If I owned such an establishment, and some government roadie showed up to tell me this, I would find it difficult not to bash his skull in on the spot.

      1. use the pitcher, it makes a resounding thunk when bounced off the forehead of the offending roadie

      2. That leaves a mess; go outside first.

        1. NAP applies to first launch of an aggressive move. No need to sit tight waiting for first blood. The gubmint proposition, as belabored by Lysander Spooner, is always obey without a why or wherefore or be coerced with as much deadly force as a Salt Lake City or Seneca trooper deems appropriate. And if friends and neighbors link arms to hold the looters at defiance, send in troops to kill them all by the tens of thousands.

  2. Alabama Bans Margarita Pitchers, Declaring Them Adulterated
    Regulators say six separate drinks are fine, but combining them in one vessel is a crime.

    Does this mean margarita shortstops, catchers and outfielders are going to be banned too?

    1. Who?

  3. I do not drink margaritas as I am not a Mexican, a girl gone wild or a goddamn beach bum.

    1. Liar. Only the two lesser evil ones of those do not apply to you.

    2. Good on you. Cultural appropriation is *the* major evil of the colonialist West. Continue the good fight. #SmashTheFash.

    3. If you were Mexican you’d be drinking Bud Light not Margaritas.

      1. AS LONG AS I WAS DOING IT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL.

    4. I do not drink margaritas as I prefer not to water down my tequila with all that other crap.
      Casa Noble anejo, neat.

    5. Your nickname used to be Goddamn Beach Bum.

  4. “If one licensee is allowed to serve mixed drinks in a pitcher,” he says, “then other licensees would have to be allowed to serve mixed drinks.” That could include not only margaritas, Argo warns, but even rum and Coke.”

    Next thing you know dogs and cats will be living together. What a douchbag. There is only one problem here Argo. Look in the mirror and you’ll find it.

    1. Has this happened? They have been serving margaritas in pitchers for more than thirty years.

      1. Argo rejects your reality and substitutes his own.

  5. “If one licensee is allowed to serve mixed drinks in a pitcher,” he says, “then other licensees would have to be allowed to serve mixed drinks.”

    Oh, that damn domino theory. Valid enough to stage the Gulf of Tonkin Incident so as to invade Viet Nam. What f’n chance do margarita pitcher supporters stand in opposition.

    What if I like my margaritas to be super sized with a potential tequilla chaser. Must be the Bloomberg effect. Why not just regulate that waitresses must have a stirring spoon and stir any pitcher every few minutes…just in case.

    Will Taco Mama fight it or roll over and take it in the ass like a Tijuana whore. Mad respect for Tijuana whores who make pitcher margaritas and take it as it comes.

    Good thing my early indoctrination ingrained in me that this is a free country or I would swear this was over regulation.

    Is America not violent enough or is it simply misdirected violence.

    1. Are violence towards one another is indeed misdirected.

      1. Our not are. Who writes this software anyway?

        1. some random Tijuana whore…

  6. “According to ABC General Counsel Bob Hill, mixing a single cocktail does not qualify as adulteration, but putting several in a pitcher does.”

    I hope, but doubt, that Mr. Bob Hill has the sense to be embarrassed when he reads that sentence.

    1. No doubt, he will go after those pesky “cocktails with more than a single straw” next.

  7. Can they serve 64oz single serving margarita bowls instead. Would they still be allowed to bring the costumer an empty glass.

  8. Recall the governor.

  9. Is there only one restaurant in alabama that serves pitchers of margaritas?

    I am trying to envision someone trying to ban margaritas in texas and I just can’t do it.

  10. These violent delights have violent ends

  11. Just cancelled my tickets to Montgomery Gay Pride. It won’t be worth a damn without margaritas.

  12. The problem, as ABC spokesman Dean Argo explains it in an interview with R Street Institute Vice President Cameron Smith, is that the alcohol in a pitcher of mixed drinks tends to settle to the bottom.

    Obviously the solution is to require each bar to hire a dedicated *licensed* pitcher stirrer for each pitcher served.

    Think of the JOBS!

    1. Think of the license FEES!!!

      1. 200 hours of training and certification required to become a licensed margarita-stirrer!

    2. That gives me an idea
      battery powered stirer that can sit at the bottom of each pitcher. they already make something like that for chem labs the jar/pitcher sits on a rotating elec coil and they drop in a bar magnet and it stirs for you.

      1. someone may swallow the magnet so there is that problem to get around, easy enough bigger magnet

      2. Man, already the robots are stealing the margarita-stirrer jobs!

  13. According to me as a degreed chemist, or even as a person with a single dram of common sense, ABC General Counsel Bob Hill is a retarded moron of the first water.

  14. The problem, as ABC spokesman Dean Argo explains it in an interview with R Street Institute Vice President Cameron Smith, is that the alcohol in a pitcher of mixed drinks tends to settle to the bottom.

    How does something less dense than water settle to the *bottom* of a glass of water?

    1. “Oh, surely you’ve heard of an alcoholic hitting rock bottom. I rest my case.”

    2. The ABC spokesman is not “less dense” he just appears so in the rear view…

  15. I have to imagine Argo or some of his kinfolk own an interest in a beer company as well as an interest in suppressing mixed-drink sales. Among other possibilities. Possibly just an interest in a fat envelope full of cash from some competitor of Taco Mama’s.

    1. Jackboots are going to jackboot!

  16. Can they just straight sell a pitcher of tequila?

    1. BTW, your handle probably does trigger every spam algorithm ever coded.
      I don’t care, but if you get booted here and there, you might consider a change to “madman muntz” or some such.

  17. Embarrassing on two counts: I grew up in the state and had hoped the nannyism would not reach Peak Blue Derp levels, and I worked for a time with Dean Argo, who was a hell of a lot less uptight back then.

  18. Alabama Man is damn close to Florida Man.

    1. I dunno about that… But a southern man don’t need that ABC guy around anyhow

  19. The stench of dumb on this entire sordid affair is beyond human comprehension.

  20. Wait. Alabama? Serving mixed drinks? Not just beer? FAKE NEWS!!!
    (I lived n Columbus GA for a decade or so, making fun of my Alabama friends was a pleasant pastime)

    On a more serious note;
    Dean Argo is a science denier.
    Bob Hill is a walking advertisement to eliminate licensing of lawyers in Alabama; it ain’t working.
    Will Haver probably does not make political contributions. (as always, follow the money)
    There is no such thing as cultural appropriation where alcohol is concerned.
    And a bit of history:
    The first frozen margarita machine was invented on May 11, 1971, by Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez. The machine was originally a soft-serve ice cream machine and now sits in the Smithsonian National Museum of History.

    1. Can anyone making a rule/”law” such as this be considered anything other than an attorney. Doesn’t a Lawyer have to have some relationship with Law other than people’s ignorance of what Law actually is?

    2. I strongly support recognizing the important contribution of the frozen margarita to US culture by hosting this essential artifact in the Smithsonian. Next round’s on me!

    3. His name was Mariano Martinez!

      God damn American Hero!

  21. 10:1 this guy’s daughter got plastered on a pitcher of frozen margarita and did something of which he disapproves.

    (Not an actual offer to take any bets.)

    1. “Young lady! You…put…your…clothes…back…on…NOW!!!”

  22. So, they are taking a law meant to protect consumers from being sold watered down booze and using it for some good old nannying. Points for creativity, I guess.

  23. “The person who is poured the first or second drink may receive only a .25 to .5 ounce of alcohol,”

    That is straight up horse shit. Alcohol and water are miscible If the beverage is stirred (shaken, whatever) it stays stirred. And Sullum is correct, if you’re careful not to stir it, alcohol will float on top and as ice melts the beverage becomes diluted. Straight Up Horse Shit.

    1. Thank you. Jeez, I realize we all slept through chem class in high school, but we’ve had cocktails, right? Alcohol and water is soluble in any proportion. There is no “settling”.

  24. GEEZE!!!!

  25. WTF????

    Another example of a “official” trying to make a rule to “save” people. How many centuries has the “Road to Hell is paved with good intentions” been known?
    Does the Alabama Constitution allow assholes to make rules/”laws” such as this? Can the State actually even have a legal opinion? If so, why?

    What part of “mind your own business” does this idiot not understand. Why or how can this even be an issue?

  26. Simple solution: offer the Maggies in four. eight, sixteen, and thirty two ounce sizes. If the “glass” used to hold the 32 ounce size happens to have a “dent” along one side, so what?

    Sometimes it amazes me how STOOPUD the regulators working in the arcane realm of liquor control can be. Worse than a pack of whingey peering Limey nannies.

  27. When I saw the headline in the newsletter, I assumed this was going to be a satire piece. Holy crap. Keep in mind that this is the same Alabama logic we’ll be seeing from Jeff Sessions and possibly (God forbid!) Roy moore who’s running for senator.

  28. Part 1: The statute is being misread by both sides. It sets down a general rule that alcoholic beverages may not be adulterated or diluted. This includes all mixed drinks as they all adulterate and dilute the alcoholic ingredient. It thus only allows “neat” drinks. But then it sets out an exception for licensed bars. They may make mixed drinks upon the order of a customer. These are the same adulterated, diluted drinks that are banned by the general rule, but now allowed under this one exception. This issue is not whether a pitcher of drinks is adulterated while a single drink is not. The issue is whether the barkeep has a license to do the adulterating and diluting; i.e. it requires licensing for barkeeps.

    1. In order to serve alcohol you have to have a license so are they not already licensed?

  29. Part 2: There might be another angle for the state. The exception allows “a drink” to be provided upon demand of a customer, not 6 drinks in a single vessel. This still ignores the intent of the statute but it at least it raises a lucid, though silly, issue.
    The real reason of course is that the Beverage Control Board wants to impede drinking any way it can and doesn’t feel restrained by any rule of reason in the kind and magnitude of silly bullshit it couches its orders in. N.B. it’s the Board; according to the article no judge has heard the controversy.
    It’s just another abuse of government power to serve private prejudice, a story as old as the Code of Hammurabi — though I don’t intend any insult to Hammurabi in that parallel.
    And how about this? An unlicensed barkeep opens up shop to sell neat drinks to the public saying it’s alright because the statute expressly applies only to those adulterated, diluted drinks. What do you think an Alabama court would do with that?

  30. Part 3: If you Goddamned idiots have a 1500 character limit (as indeed you do) why in hell don’t you tell people before they write a comment instead after they’ve put out all the effort just to find you won’t print it all?

    Shitheads!

    1. Posting here is a lot like drinking in Alabama.

      1. You’ve got to watch out for the snaggle tooth ones?

    2. you gotta know your limits

  31. So a hatchet-wielding progressive, a revenooer and Jacob Sullum swagger into a Confederate Stars ‘n Bars Saloon with nary a thought for the bear trap lurking under the peanut shells and tobacco juice. The Messkin Margarita law is clearly a protectionist line in the sand daring culture-appropriating federal meddlers to knock another chip off of Col. Sanders’ epaulet. Humiliated by the failure of tariff nullification, crushed by the carpetbaggers’ ban on traffic in mulatto girls, outraged by the repeal of Prohibition, humiliated by Supreme Court’s miscegenatory takeovers of Walgreens lunch counters, bathrooms, drinking fountains, and government schools and finally the libertarian-drawn Roe v. Wade decision outlawing the fatal flogging of Jezebels with coathangers, Dixie has drawn the line beyond which lie the next Articles of Secession. If this law falls to Immediate Causes, don’t come crying to me when nuclear armories are overrun and revenue cutters and missile cruisers seized by mutineers under the Stars ‘n Bars.

  32. Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board

    This pack of idiots sound a lot like the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

    Sounds like they need the same final fate, too.

    Share and enjoy.

  33. Racist fucks lashing out against Mexican beverages?

    What else can happen? It is not as if Alabama can mandate rightwingnut books in schools as compulsory reading or anything.

    Oh wait, they did that too.

    1. There’s always that one guy who has to take any story and use it as a segue to his own, personal obsession.

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