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alcohol

“The age-21 rule sets the U.S. apart from all advanced Western nations and lumps it with small or repressive countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Congress was stampeded into this puritanical law by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.” — Camille Paglia in Time on why the national minimum drinking age law “must be repealed. It is absurd and unjust.” Related: “A drinking age of 21 infantilizes adults who are otherwise able to serve in the military, marry without permission, enter into business contracts, buy tobacco, vote and run for public office. It forces college administrators to be babysitters rather than educators. And it doesn’t achieve its stated goals.” ["ABC debacle should stir debate on Virginia’s drinking age," Rick Sincere, Richmond Times-Dispatch] Earlier here, here, here, etc. Plus: Relevant political thoughts from Glenn Reynolds last year.

Related, if distantly: study in Britain finds liberalization of bar closing hours associated with decline in traffic accidents [Jeffrey Miron, Cato]

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San Francisco warns against infused bitters, the New York City health department cracks down on raw egg whites, and Virginia’s ABC state commission keeps many exotic spirits out of reach (Reason.tv via Reason “Hit and Run”).

A year ago (Jun. 26, 2007) guestblogger Christian Schneider reported on the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s suppression of a “frozen beer pop” specialty offered by the Alexandria restaurant Rustico. Now the state legislature has enacted a bill sponsored by Del. Adam Ebbin and Sen. Patsy Ticer (both D-Alexandria) re-legalizing the cooling treats, which went back on sale July 1 in such flavors as framboise, cherry kriek, cassis, plum, and chocolate stout. (Erin Zimmer, SeriousEats.com, Jun. 25; Gillian Gaynair, “Rustico brings back beer pops for summer”, Washington Business Journal, Jun. 20)(& welcome The Agitator and Reason “Hit and Run”, Belgian ladmag ZV, Christian Schneider/WPRI readers).

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An Alexandria tapas bar was cited for serving sangria—which violates a 1934 Virginia law against mixing wine with spirits, with penalties of up to a year in jail. Virginia Spanish restaurants, so warned, now only serve a bowdlerized version of the drink, to the dismay of customers who can get the real thing a few miles away in DC or Maryland. The legislature is contemplating a change, though a pending bill would fail to exempt the similarly illegal kir royals or boilermakers. (Anita Kumar, “Virginia’s Sangria Ban At Issue in 2 Hearings”, Washington Post, Jan. 24). (According to Instruction 33 on this bulletin, Virginia also appears to ban the pitcher of margaritas the local Mexican restaurant serves.) Left unspoken: when is someone going to bring a consumer class action against the Spanish restaurants serving faux sangrias without warning customers?

(ObJingoism: At least Virginia still has better Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese food than DC or Maryland.)

For more on the more modern food police, see Overlawyered’s Eat, Drink, and Be Merry section or my article, A Taxonomy of Obesity Litigation.

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Visitors to Rustico restaurant in Alexandria, VA may think they’re merely enjoying an innocent Beersicle (video)- but state regulators seem to think they are practicing their own vigilante brand of thirst amelioration. The new “frozen beer on a stick” offering apparently violates a state law that requires beer be sold in its original container or served immediately after it is poured.

It would seem to me that the beersicle actually serves as a deterrent to consuming large amounts of beer as fast as possible. This isn’t a good thing? Wouldn’t the cops be a little better served by making sure terrorists aren’t amassing a stockpile of bomb pops?

[Update Jul. 2008: state legislature legalizes the pops.]

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