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Cork ScrewEmily Harris Gant is an alcoholic beverage attorney, and an Owner in GSB’s national Hospitality, Travel, and Tourism Group. You can reach Emily at egant@gsblaw.com or 206.816.1454.

A distributor is knocking on your hotel restaurant’s door, offering key chains from a hot new distillery for your customers. A brewery just dropped off coasters for use in the restaurant’s bar. And a winery offered cork screws for your sommeliers.

As a responsible retail licensee, you know that most states tightly govern the relationships among liquor retailers, manufacturers, and distributors.

But where’s the line? What kind of “swag” and other valuable items can your hotel restaurant accept for free without running afoul of the law? To find out, read on.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board has issued a Notice of Rule Making for a proposed amendment to the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) prohibiting the manufacture, importing and sale of “alcohol energy drinks.” The Board defines alcohol energy drinks as any beverages containing beer, strong beer or malt liquor and “caffeine, guarana, taurine, or other similar substances.” The public may comment on the proposed rule until February 23, 2011.

This new rule is virtually identical to the emergency rule adopted by the Board on November 10, 2010, which is currently in effect and will continue until March of this year. Unlike the emergency measure, the proposed rule contains language making clear that the prohibition is not intended to extend to substances in which coffee and chocolate are added to alcohol. Irish coffees and liquored chocolates are still safe!

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Greg Duff
Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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