Leave it to Texas to make the most mundane things interesting. It never fails, the Lone Star State can make the simplest problems more complicated than upside down trigonometry. For instance, the sale of RTD (ready to drink) cocktails. Which leads me to this question...

What's a spirit cooler and why is the liquor store I go to so mad about it?

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Hey Texas, Say Hello To HB 2200. Your Liquor Store Hates It.

Because legal jargon makes an absolute dog mess out of the simplest things, I'll break this down according to what I've seen the experts say, along with the actual language in HB 2200..

Basically, these RTD cocktails already exist and are available in grocery and convenience stores. They're of the "beer and wine" variety. The RTDs that are made with spirits, or "liquor," however are not allowed to be sold in grocery or convenience stores.

That's because of the "spirits" part. Well, HB 2200 seeks to change things up a bit in the Lone Start State and allow these "spirit coolers," as they're referred to in the proposed legislation, to be sold in the same places as their beer and wine counterparts.

This Isn't The Wild West. There's Still Rules To Follow.

There are limits on alcohol by volume (ABV) when it comes to what can or can not be sold in a grocery or convenience store. HB 2200 states a "spirit cooler" is a drink that has at least one half of one percent by volume but not more than 17 percent. There's some other defining features as well. A "spirit cooler" is:

  • An alcoholic beverage that has spirits of wine, whiskey, gin, rum, brandy, any spirit that is produced in whole or in part by the process of distillery. Basically, all the stuff the small town ladies garden club gets all excited about.
  • contains plain, sparkling, or carbonated water; or juices. Also, natural or artificial flavors.
  • and then that bit about there not being more than 17% ABV

Now, what are the industry folks saying about this?

Distilleries Are Happy. Liquor Stores Say, "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!"

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS...which I think is so cute. I wonder which came first, the name or the acronym) is happy to hear this. They point out that spirits RTDs actually have the same or less alcohol than their beer and wine contemporaries. It just makes sense, to them and a lot of other people, that you should be able to purchase them in the same place.

The Texas Package Stores Association, another way of saying it would be Texas sized group of liquor stores (which I'm basing on the number of photos of liquor bottles I've seen on their website), is definitely against HB 2200. So much so, that all their tweets about it are on the front page of their website.Why would they oppose this?

The children.

What Do Kids Have To Do With Liquor Stores And HB 2200?

They're really worried that if we allow these things to exist anywhere other than say...your liquor store, then there's a chance children will be exposed to it and then some kind of Armageddon will befall us as our children, and we, can no longer discern between a super hard seltzer and can of pop.

Never mind how they got through getting their ID checked and then through the check out, they've been exposed!

I think, in all honesty, it has more to do with this part from their "About Us" section on their website where they state:

The TPSA provides a voice in Austin to help prevent the passage of legislation and taxes that would be harmful to the industry.....

TPSA is the vehicle for package store permittees to work together to create on-going operating benefits, as well as maintain and preserve a favorable business climate in the State of Texas.

Click this link to read it for yourself. Pay special attention to how children are never mentioned once, anywhere, in their expressed reason for existing. They exist to keep your liquor store in business.

I do wish everyone could just have a real conversation or debate. Why is my liquor store telling me to think of the children? That just seems...odd, and a bit off-putting honestly. Stick to the issue. Don't invoke my children.

I can't take my kid inside your store because of the stuff you sell that could potentially be harmful to them, but you can tell me to "think of the children" when it comes to "b*tch-beer 2.0" being sold in a grocery store? Am I the only person that feels that's strange?

Either way, the debate should be fun to watch as this thing possibly progresses and maybe one day it blossoms into a full grown piece of legislation where it gets officially put on the books and then...not much will change...probably.

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