Infused alcohols now OK in California

One more vestige of Prohibition has been erased, this time in California.

Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 32, which removes the ban on infusing alcohol with fruits, vegetables, herbs or spices.

That's a plus for the hospitality industry in which infused wines and spirits and even beers have been continually growing in popularity.

The ban had long been winked at, until the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control began warning some California cocktail hotspots that they were breaking the law. In response, State Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, late last year introduced the bill to amend the law.

"In San Francisco and other cities where tourism is critical to the local economy, restaurant owners have been asked to stop serving infused cocktails in the name of an outdated law written decades ago," Leno said in a statement.

"This Prohibition-era statute did nothing more than punish California restaurants and small businesses that are using culinary innovations to survive in this difficult economy."

Frank Coleman, senior vice president of the trade group Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS), said, "More than anything else, it’s similar to developments around the country where cocktail culture has outpaced the legacy of Prohibition laws that exist."

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