#DrunkenSocialism vs. The State

How Virginia is screwing over bars, customers, and common sense


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Around the country, more and more people are dabbling with socialism: #drunkensocialism. The trend involves bars and restaurants selling bottles of expensive or rare alcohol one ounce at a time, at cost. It gives patrons a taste of something exotic they could never normally afford, and drives business in the process.

While it seems like a win-win scenario for all involved, the restrictive alcohol laws in Virginia make this new trend essentially illegal, according to John Maher, bartender and owner of The Rogue Gentlemen in Richmond. Under rules enforced by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) a bar may not give away drinks or establish "a customary retail price for a drink at a markup over cost significantly less that that applied to other beverages of similar type, quantity, or volume."

"It's heartbreaking and it's stressful to deal with this nonsense," says Maher. "The lovely Prohibition-era rules that we have to follow make things very hard to be a bar in this state."

People have been trying to get the state out of the alcohol business for decades, but while some legislators actually want to control liquor consumption, many others are simply too afraid to surrender a lucrative revenue stream for the state. "I get that it's a business," says Maher, "[but] I've got a fucking business too, and you're killing me."

Produced and Edited by Austin Bragg. Camera by Austin and Meredith Bragg.

About 4:45.

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