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New mixed-drink distribution bill filed

A second bill to allow for pre-mixed, canned liquor beverages to be sold in grocery and convenience stores was filed in the Legislature last week. It defines who could distribute the popular drinks to stores.

Senate Bill 321 by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, creates and defines in state regulations a new category of ready-to-drink mixed-liquor beverages containing no more than 12.5% alcohol by volume called “mixed spirit beverages.”

They’re currently only sold in package and Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board stores.

The bill would require all mixed spirit beverages, other than those distributed by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, to be distributed through a licensed wholesaler and sold to licensed retailers in Alabama for on-premises and off-premises consumption. 

The bill defines a wholesaler as those licensed “to engage in the sale and distribution of table wine, and beer, or mixed spirit beverages, or either of them any combination thereof, within this state, at wholesale only …”

Last month, Sens. Singleton and Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, filed Senate Bill 194 to allow licensed grocery and convenience stores to sell the pre-made, “mixed spirit beverages.”

That bill was assigned to the Senate Tourism Committee, but so far has not received a vote.

Livingston last month said distribution of the beverages was a “sticky issue.” 

“The beer and wine wholesalers have always had franchise agreements in place, whereas our friends at the soft drink companies that also want to distribute this operate on a contract basis,” Livingston previously said.

The Alabama Grocers Association, the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, and the Petroleum and Convenience Marketers of Alabama are advocating for both bills.

“Ready-to-drink cocktails have seen a huge demand from consumers over the past few years with a wide array of options from malt-based hard seltzers, wine-based flavored spritzers, or canned/premixed ready-to-drink cocktails,” a press release from the associations said. “In fact, this is the fastest growing category in adult beverages. Consumers are choosing ready-to-drink options because of their convenience, low calorie content, and low alcohol by volume offerings.”

Florida and Mississippi have already passed legislation allowing the sale of the mixed drinks in grocery and convenience stores.

The associations said making Alabamians make trips to separate stores for these products is “completely unjustified and unfair.”

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