The aptly located government press conference was held inside Prohibition Bar at the Hotel Georgia in November of 2016′. The Hotel Georgia was granted one of the cities first post-prohibition liquor licenses in 1954.
The battle for infusions and aging spirits in-house was won in late 2016′, with changes taking effect on January 23rd, 2017. It has been a long time coming.
The continuing battle for common sense liquor laws that protect consumers, and allow greater freedom for bartenders. There has been one goal for the Canadian Bartending community in the modern era. The legal infusion of spirits or other pre-mixes, like punches, for large services.
Due to a growing demand and a want to re-vamp the BC liquor laws; bartenders are now allowed to, and the community roared with excitement.
The new law takes effect Jan. 23, 2017.
The assembled speakers at the November 3rd press conference were; Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch. John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform Policy. Robyn Gray, Head Bartender of the Hotel Georgia and Shawn Soole, a noted writer and bar consultant with his firm S/Squared Hospitality.
Oakes started the conference rapidly, noting that Bars, Clubs and Caterers are now allowed to “infuse and age liquor on premises”. She also noted that removing these creative barriers will make BC bartenders better able to “compete with the world’s best craft cocktail mixologists”.
Previously, only licensed distilleries have been able to create infusions or age liquor. She went on to mention that these changes came after extensive consultation with the industry and with consumers to find a common consensus.
“British Columbians want common sense liquor laws that align with our modern society” – Coralee Oakes
These changes to infusions come on the heels of recent updates. Legalizing happy hour in Vancouver. Opening up “entertainment” licensing to all. Permitting the sale of wine in liquor stores. Allowing the sale of wine, liquor and beer at Farmer’s Markets.
Shawn Soole calls this a move in the “right direction and hopefully a trend that will spread across Canada.” He continued by saying that the rest of Canada’s jurisdictions should pay attention, because “this is what the industry wants”.
Robyn Gray said, “Infusions and being able to batch outside of the ‘patrons direct view’ (as the law before stated) allow us to offer quicker service in high volume bars”.
While maintaining quality of ingredients. Producing cocktails on tap. Barrel aged cocktails. Fat-washes. House-made infusions, bitters, cremes and liqueurs. All now possible. He noted that all these things allow for a culinary approach to bartending.
John Yap commended the changes as opening up more avenues for bartenders and other purveyors to give better guest satisfaction. It also heeds the call of the marketplace on these changes.
“We can now expect to experience more exciting and creative drink menus in our food and beverage establishments, contributing to the emerging craft cocktail culture in British Columbia.” -John Yap