British Columbia’s licensed restaurants, bars, manufacturer lounges and caterers will be able to age and infuse liquor in order to create their own unique craft cocktails as part of the Province’s ongoing efforts to modernize liquor policies.
Cutting red tape so that businesses can age and infuse liquor allows for more creative drink menus, and responds to growing interest and evolution in cocktail culture. The change will also provide B.C. bartenders and mixologists the opportunity to compete with the world’s most innovative industry pioneers in cocktail competitions and the broader marketplace.
Aging cocktails involves placing ingredients in a glass vessel or barrel to deepen the flavours. This practice has taken off in the U.K. and the United States and is already permitted in Saskatchewan, P.E.I., Ontario and the Northwest Territories. Infusion involves adding ingredients such as spices, herbs, fruit or candy to enhance the flavour. The aged or infused liquor is then used to create signature cocktails.
Currently, the rules state that liquor must be poured and mixed in full view of patrons, cannot be infused or aged, and must be dispensed from the original container. These changes remove unnecessary restrictions and create more flexibility for businesses, increase consumer convenience and modernize B.C.’s liquor laws. Liquor aging and infusing will be permitted as of Jan. 23, 2017.
To protect the health and safety of British Columbians, licensees will have to follow rules for aging and infusing liquor found within their new terms and conditions available on the Liquor Control and Licencing Branch website.
Establishments will have to ensure that ingredients, aging timeline and the mixologists responsible are recorded and available to a liquor inspector upon request. Individual health authorities can also implement additional processes to ensure the infusion and ageing techniques are safe.
Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business, Red Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch –
“Permitting liquor aging and infusing helps licensed establishments and industry professionals flourish in the local and global food and beverage industry. It is a common-sense change that increases consumer choice and supports B.C. business growth and innovation.”
John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform –
“Throughout my ongoing consultations with the liquor industry, I have seen how a seemingly small change like this can open up a wealth of possibilities for licensees. We can now expect to experience more exciting and innovative drink menus in our food and beverage establishments, contributing to the emerging craft cocktail culture in British Columbia.”
Robyn Gray, secretary, Canadian Professional Bartenders Association –
“This is a big win for the B.C. hospitality industry. The use of infusions enables exciting flavourful experiences for our guests and really puts the bartender in a position of creative control. Being able to pre-batch cocktails outside the direct view of patrons eases service by assuring drinks are perfectly to-measure, consistent and quickly delivered. Paying homage to the age-old tradition of serving punches to our guests during large parties really evokes the feeling of a well-executed event. All in all, these changes are no small thing. We, as a community of bartenders, are so grateful that the feedback to the Province has resolved this issue."
Shawn Soole, founder and consultant, S/Squared Hospitality Concepts –
“This is an exciting change for our industry and we’re happy that government is acting on our requests to allow aging and infusions. Professional bartenders take mixology seriously and this is our opportunity to elevate our craft in British Columbia with innovative and exciting cocktail menus. The possibilities are endless.”
- The flavour of some signature cocktails, such as the Negroni, Manhattan, Rob Roy and Cosmopolitan can be changed or enhanced through barrel aging.
- Infusion has been a practice in Europe for many decades, particularly vodka in Eastern Europe.
For more information on B.C.’s ongoing effort to modernize B.C.’s liquor laws: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/impact/bc-liquor-policy-review-results/
For more information about the rules surrounding infusion and barrel aging: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/lclb/haveaLL/terms.htm