I often think that someone could devote an entire blog to the topic of Stupid Liquor Laws, said laws being a good indicator of this country's screwball attitudes toward alcohol. (Well, okay, now that I think about it, Jay comes pretty close to doing just that.)
Anyway, file this under Stupid Liquor Laws: Today's Wall Street Journal features a piece about a guy named Ralph Erenzo. (I can't provide a link to the piece because the WSJ doesn't provide free content.) Erenzo lives in upstate New York, a mostly rural area with a mostly depressed economy. He's doing his bit for creating a locally based, "green" economy by operating a small distillery, where he makes vodka, bourbon, rye, rum, and other spirits. He hires local labor, and relies as much as possible on local crops.
So what's the problem? New York laws forbid him from selling his stuff directly to customers. So he can't operate a California-type tasting room where you can sip the goods and then buy a case. A hundred people a day might drive by during summer tourist season, but they can't buy his goods.
Erenzo and his business partner lobbied the state legislature to change the law, much as micro-brewers did in California twenty-five years ago so that they could operate brewpubs and sell their beer to consumers. After four years of lobbying, the legislature finally passed and the governor finally signed a law that created a new category of liquor license.
So where's the dumbass part? The law requires such small distillers to use ONLY ingredients found in New York. Nothing else.
Sooooooooo, as the columnist at the Journal (Brendan Miniter) points out, that lets out rum (sugar cane doesn't grow in New York), and Erenzo uses Candian rye. Which means he can't sell the stuff direct to customers. So here's a guy who's trying to revive New York agriculture and support the local economy -- stymied by yet another example of dumbass liquor laws.
There's no moral to this story. Just more head-shaking and eye-rolling on my part. When when when are we Americans gonna grow up and stop infantilzing the making and consuming of alcohol?