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2/7/2018
Proposal would restore mixed drinks at distilleries

JUNEAU (AP) — A proposed law would allow Alaska distilleries to once again serve cocktails and mixed drinks in tasting rooms.

Members of the public talked to legislators on Saturday about the bill that would reverse regulations enacted by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, the Juneau Empire reported.

Currently, distilleries can sell mixers and alcohol separately, but customers must prepare the drinks themselves. Distilleries had been able to serve mixed drinks for about three years. The control board voted two weeks ago to stop allowing it.

Amalga Distillery co-owner Brandon Howard said the regulations create "awkwardness" between employees and customers.

"If I give you an ounce and a half of gin and a mixer, you can tilt that gin into the glass, but if I tilt that gin into the glass for you, I am breaking the law," Howard said.

Bar owners, however, said they're happy with the change because a distillery's ability to sell mixed drinks unfairly cuts into their business. Bar owners said that distilleries were operating without expensive bar licenses, which in Juneau run about $250,000.

Legislation creating tasting rooms in 2014 was intended to help Alaska's distilleries attract interest from the tourism industry. Howard said she feels forbidding the sale of mixed drinks defeats that purpose.

Rob Borland, owner of Alaska's smallest distillery, Ursa Major Distillery, said the bulk of business comes right out of his tasting room.

"Our products are mostly designed to be used in a cocktail," Borland said. "Having a tasting room has allowed us to keep our doors open and kind of flourish, for the most part."

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com