Credit: Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

Last week an exciting step forward happened in California when the California Senate unanimously passed SB 277, a measure that would increase adult consumer access to popular spirits ready-to-drink cocktails (RTDs) in the marketplace. The bill now moves to the Assembly for consideration.

“Right now, these low alcohol spirits products are much harder to get in California than their beer and wine counterparts, which makes no sense given they have the same alcohol content,” said Adam Smith, vice president of state government relations at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). “There is strong consumer demand for these spirits ready-to-drink cocktails, but consumers can’t buy them everywhere they buy other alcohol products. SB 277 helps modernize the state’s alcohol licensing structure to bring California consumers greater shopping convenience. We urge the Assembly to pass this consumer-friendly bill and send it to the governor’s desk for signature.”

Currently, grocery and convenience stores need a unique and expensive license to be able to sell spirits RTDs, despite the fact that they have the same alcohol content as beer and wine being sold there. This causes less stores to want to go through the hassle of obtaining this license, and therefore less stores carrying spirits RTDs. In California, beer- and wine-based RTDs are sold in more than 28,000 locations, while spirits RTDs are only sold in about 14,000 locations. Consumers have wanted to see a change in this. The proposed bill would allow spirits RTDs to be sold under the same license used for beer and wine, helping many local businesses and making consumers happy.

The distilled spirits industry supports more than 143,000 jobs in California, generating more than $16.67 billion in state economic activity each year. Better access to spirits RTDs will allow the industry to make an even larger impact and could generate as much as $60 million in additional excise tax revenue for the state, according to a DISCUS economic analysis.