ANNAPOLIS — Kids know better than to walk into a liquor store and ask for beer, wine or a bottle of scotch (not without convincing ID, anyway). Now, one MoCo state delegate wants to be sure they can’t score another form of hooch at the local 7-Eleven.

On Monday afternoon, Del Bill Bronrott (D-Dist 16) pitched his idea to ban the sale of “alcopops” at stores licensed to sell only beer. Instead, he said frou-frou drinks like Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Breezer and Mike’s Hard Lemonade should be sold at stores licensed to sell the harder stuff.

“As many as 10 million underage children drink,” Bronrott testified before the House economic-matters committee. Pin some of that booze abuse on the alcopops, which he said were marketed directly at young people and were available in urban convenience stores.

Marlene Trestman, with attorney general Doug Gansler’s office, was down with Bronrott. “These drinks bare no resemblance to what we traditionally label beer,” she testified. “This bill would put those beverages where distilled spirits are sold.”

So what the hell is an alcopop?

According to the bill’s text, such a drink is no more than 6% alcohol by volume — the same as beer. But unlike beer, which is totally the product of fermentation, an alcopop can pull just under half of its alcohol content from other sources of booze. In other words, it’s a mixed drink.

“These are not flavored beers,” Trestman said. “They’re lemonades, they’re colas.”

But should alcopop sales be restricted to hard-core liquor stores, as the bill demands?

If that were to happen, downtown Silver Springers would have to hit the county-operated liquor depot on Colesville Road to score what The Penguin mailroom guys dub “wussahol”. Smaller joints like the hood’s assorted delis would be out of the running.

And that was the rub for Del Donna Stifler (R-Dist 35A), who sits on the economic-matters committee. The Harford County rep said small stores that handle their business legitimately would be stuck with sacrificing revenues, despite their compliance with checking IDs and keeping kids out of the liquor case.

The committee should announce today whether the bill will move forward for further consideration.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user FaeryBoots.

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6 Responses to “State House takes legislative swig at bottled mixed drinks”

  1. IHateYuppies says:

    I actually like the Smirnoff Ice selection. It’s a good alternative to the hi-carb, fattening beer. I buy liquor, beer and alco-pops in DC because the selection of brands and the prices are much better. The MontCo liquor stores are a joke.

    Look, you have a clique of politicians who don’t drink alcohol because they had problems with boozing in the past or they had a family member or friend killed by a drunk driver. Time to be a crusader and make Montgomery County safe from people who like to drink a glass of wine with their dinner. Watch out for those people at Adega! Because after all…everyone who sips a glass of wine or chugs a bottle of beer is an alcoholic, right? The crusaders would love to ban the sale of any alcoholic item in a Montgomery County retail joint.

    I get tired of politicians who make crusades because of a personal demon or tragedy. Taking away booze, guns and tobacco from responsible citizens is not smart policy.

  2. Jimmy says:

    Wait, 10 million underage children? Does that include the underage ADULTS? They could easily reduce that statistic by changing the drinking age (the highest drinking age in the world!) so that young adults can learn a little self control before they go off to college.

    OK, I’m done with my rant.

  3. The Washington Post approaches this subject from the tax-revenue angle: “Bill would make ‘alcopops’ less available” (Feb 24, 2009)

  4. BD says:

    “These drinks bare no resemblance to what we traditionally label beer,” [Trestman] testified. “This bill would put those beverages where distilled spirits are sold.”

    I think Ms. Trestman needs to take a closer look at what she’s talking about. Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver are not mixes and do not contain hard liquor. They are malt drinks, the same as beer, but are lighter and smoother in texture and flavor having less carbonation and making use of fruit flavors rather than hops.

    I would be hard pressed to write a legal definition that distinguishes between a beer and a malt drink. You’d have to itemize rather than categorize, and that would result in an unfathomable restriction of trade.

  5. Corona says:

    Is this bill for MoCo or for the whole state? Because while this would make for a big deal in bass ackwards MoCo, where you have to buy beer and wine from beer and wine stories, and liquor from the county store, there are more than a few counties like PG and Calvert (where I’m from) where you can buy liquor, beer, and wine all in the, gasp, same store! So really this wouldn’t change much of anything there.

    I think I’m going to keep driving 20 minutes to College Park to buy alcohol. Every now and then I’ll go to the MoCo liquor store because they have decent sales from time to time, but I mostly prefer the convenience of buying all of my alcoholic beverages from the same locale.

    Editor’s note: This bill applies to the entire state. — JD (Feb 24, 2009)

  6. carlos says:

    so where are Delegates Kumar and Taylor on this?

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