Drink Up: Prohibition Alcohol Ban Lifted

A practice often found in high-end bars is now officially legal.

Getty Images for Tiffany & Co.

Bartenders across the Golden State hit the political jackpot Wednesday when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that will allow them to make even tastier drinks.

The governor signed SB32, which ends the state's ban on infused alcoholic beverages.

The legislation was authored by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and updates what he see as an archaic law that banned the practice of infusing alcohol with fruits, vegetables, herbs or spices for use in cocktails. 

It's called infusion, basically flavor is added to a hard liquor and left to soak to make a new flavor. The most common base is Vodka. The flavors can be anything from fruit to spices to tree bark.

"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is critical to the local economy, restaurant owners have been asked to stop serving infused cocktails in the name of an outdated law written decades ago. 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," Leno said.

He wrote the bill after hearing from bar owners who were threatened by state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control workers who said that as far as the law was concerned, their alcoholic infusions amounted to illegal moonshine, Leno said.

SB32 also contained an "urgency" clause so it can go into effect immediately, meaning drinkers can ask for infused cocktails tonight.

Contact Us