Task Force recommends ready-to-drink cocktails remain in state and private liquor stores until rules and regulations in place

In its final report issued Feb. 14, the Mixed Spirit Beverage Task Force recommended against expanding where consumers can purchase ready-t0-drink mixed drinks.

The 10-member task force of lawmakers, chaired by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, was charged with making recommendations on the distribution, sales and taxation of cocktails-in-a-can The joint resolution creating the panel gained approval on the final day of the 2023 regular session.

During last year’s session, two bills that would have required mixed spirit beverages to be distributed through a licensed wholesaler and sold through retailers licensed for either on-premises and off-premises consumption died for lack of action. In Alabama, liquor and liquor-based products can be sold for off-premise use only at private package stores and state liquor stores operated by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, a total of almost 1,000 locations. The bills would have allowed the beverages to be sold in grocery and convenience stores, which potentially would put the products in more than 4,600 locations.

SB321 by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, and SB194 by Livingston would have created a new category of ready-to-drink liquor beverages called mixed spirit beverages. Under both, a mixed spirit beverage was defined as being packaged in a single-serving container of no more than 16 ounces that contains no more than 12.5% alcohol.

The task force cited the high alcoholic content of ready-t0-drink spirits, along with their sweet flavors, as posing a potential danger to consumers if made as accessible as beer and wine. “It would be irresponsible for the task force to place these products in front of minors without rules and regulations in place for the protection of our minors and our store operators,” the task force concluded, recommending the beverages stay under the control of the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Supporters of expanding distribution of cocktails-in-a-can have said they will continue to work toward a compromise.

RELATED MEDIA REPORT: Task force puts mixed-drinks proposal on ice (aldailynews.com)

This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!

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