Governor Brown Lifts Ban on Infused Alcohol
Caroline on Crack Martini made with Earl Grey-infused gin
Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 32 into law yesterday, granting California bartenders the right to infuse spirits and wine products with foods, herbs, and spices, and to serve the infusions to customers in-house. The State Assembly delivered the bill to Governor Brown in August, three months after it passed through the State Senate. Upon receiving Brown's signature, the bill became law and took immediate effect, thanks to a built-in urgency clause. California's ban on infused spirits dated back to the end of Prohibition.
State Senator Mark Leno (D) of San Francisco introduced SB 32 on December 6, 2010. The bill passed the Senate on May 26. (Ten other bills Leno authored passed the Senate that same week, including SB 676, a measure that will allow California farmers to produce industrial hemp. The Assembly delivered SB 676 to Brown on September 14. It has yet to receive his signature.) SB 32 then moved on to the Assembly, where it was passed and delivered to Governor Brown on August 30.
On September 2, Josh Harris and Scott Baird -- two San Francisco bartenders and San Francisco Cocktail Week board members -- launched a petition on Change.org urging Brown to sign SB 32. By the time Brown signed the bill yesterday afternoon, the petition had received over 600 signatures. We called Harris this morning to get his reaction.
"I'm incredibly excited for our business," Harris said. "Both for the bar and restaurant business, and for artists and small business. Definitely score one for the good guys. Scott, my business partner, and I put a lot of work in trying to push this forward. Both he and I have always felt very strongly about building community, and this was definitely one of those occasions when people in the bar business stood together and showed we're a community. It just feels like, 'Yes, we have a voice!' It's awesome."