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The War to End Mini Bottles in S. Carolina


beans
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The first time I heard of this, I thought: That's crazy! At first I feigned disbelief, then mystified. The resounding Why? still clearly resounds in this bartender and liquor consumer's mind. :biggrin:

Here's a colourful Tri-Valley Herald article on the quirky liquor law in South Carolina requiring that liquor be sold and served from the cutesy mini bottle.

The big bottles have tried to muscle in for years.

:laugh:

However, there are several more serious issues at hand. And quite apparently, this is going to be a money/revenue war. (Doesn't it always?)

Burris makes an economic argument in defense of minibottles. The state collects 25 cents on each minibottle the minute it leaves one of South Carolina's four wholesalers and is sent to the 58 or so liquor stores, such as Burris', that have licenses to sell directly to bars and restaurants. Without the minibottles, he says, the tax would be collected on bar sales, and it would be easier for bar owners to cheat the taxman and fool their customers with short drinks poured from tall bottles.

But legislators are concerned with other issues: landfill clogging waste of millions of these little bottles and the serving of large volumes of liquor, a possible contributor to drunk driving related deaths.

You see, as it turns out -- and on this the minibottle lovers and haters agree -- the minibottle is not so small, after all. A minibottle holds 1.7 ounces of liquor, and bartenders must pour all 1.7 ounces -- no more, no less. It may not look like much, but compared with the average drink size around the country -- which is 1 to 1.25 ounces of liquor -- it packs a wallop.

This will be interesting to see how this all works out.

And, I learnt a bit more bar trivia -- "Blind Tiger Bars."

Interesting article. :cool:

TYPOS! :angry:

Edited by beans (log)
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I heard about this on NPR last night. (Article here.)

Suspciously absent was any info on the liquor lobby. I'm sure they're pushing for this too. The state senator they talked to mostly framed it as a public safety issue -- SC, he says, has the strongest drinks in the country, and that ain't good.

Not that I think the potential change is bad. Just wish they would be less circumspect about all the reasons behind it.

amanda

Googlista

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I was just in South Carolina and ordered various drinks while there, and talked this issue through with the GM of one of the major hotels. The thing that sucks about mini-bottles from the consumer perspective is that most of the better boutique brands of liquor don't bottle themselves that way. Thus -- surprise! -- the big manufacturers are very much in favor of the current law.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The Washington Post ran an article about minibottles last week - including some significant comments from one of the state's biggest liquor retailers about why he likes them. Interesting stuff.

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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I keep wondering how bartenders are mixing a multi liquor drink. Do they use the full little bottle of triple sec in a Margarita? Do they use a estimated one third (rough at best) and save the rest for another order?

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According to the Post article, they're required to use the entire minibottle, which makes multi-liquor drinks end up really big.

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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WOW!

One bottle of triple sec, and three bottles of tequila! That's 5.1 huge ounces of tequila!!!!!!

Holy Cow!

:blush: Thanks hannah for the link, I didn't see it.

<scrolls/slinks up to read the supplied link> :biggrin:

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Presumably, margarita mix has a low enough alcohol content to escape the requirement, so one would use a mini-bottle of tequila plus margarita mix (which has triple sec in it) from a large bottle.

Is 1.7 ounces really such a large drink? Most everywhere I go in New York these days they're making drinks based on double shots. Indeed the gimlets Ellen had in Charleston seemed quite small compared to what most bars here are serving.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Oops, more egg on my face, but that's the same article...! I sort of glazed over the remainder ending paragraphs of the article at about the line regarding bartenders looked like football players suiting/taping up....

:rolleyes::laugh:

Having watched skin literally fall off my right hand during one of the busiest weekends ever at our restaurant (the Cleveland BiCentennial celebration, some years back) I have little interest or sympathies for bartenders complaining about their hands being cut up! Comes with the territory and the pain has a funny way of going away when counting out the tip jar! :raz:

Thinking about minis, my little adorable Chopin bottle has an exact replica cork stopper top. It is just darling and I was so intrigued as I purchased it during my last trip to Alaska. Around holiday season, I found the same mini bottle paired up with Belvedere in a special keepsake, presentation box here in Cleveland -- of course which is the set I would have prefered to own. :hmmm:

While, I've never had a mini Crown bottle, I've got a few of the mini purple felt bags, complete with the embroidery and gold tassel pull cord. We used to use them for change at one bar I once worked at until I asked if I could keep them when our owner wanted to throw them away. Those are the cat's pajamas of miniatures. :wub:

Aw, jeesz, I'm rambling....

Carry on!

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& the mini Maker's Mark bottles w/ the red wax make great Christmas tree ornaments. (As do a few others that are truly decorative like Crown, Blanton's, &c...a true Christmas tree for alcoholics ":^) ). Just put an eye hook in the top & a gold thread to hang it fr/ the tree and add a bow for decoration. They also work as party favors. Tell your guests to "grab an ornament fr/ the tree" as they leave.

Now what is really sad is when you run out of MM on a Sunday when the liquor stores are closed and find yourself scrounging around in the attic for the Christmas ornaments b/c you know that there were some left over mini bottles that got placed in the boxes w/ the other holiday decorations. ":^)

in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

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I live in South Carolina so I'm definitely used to it, and drinks here will definitely wipe you out if you're not careful. The good thing is that you at least know you won't be cheated. The bad thing is that it is very hard to get multi-liquor drinks unless you share them with someone else. When you order shots at a bar, you usually order "2 3-ways" or maybe "3 4-ways".

When I was in college one of my favorite bars (which I frequented quite a bit) would stay open after 2 on Saturday night but had to stop serving by law (on other nights in most places there's generally no such restriction). One of my friends was a bartender, and right before 2, I would order a couple of extra minibottles from him of cheap vodka to put in my pocket, and then go up to the bar later to get a Sprite or something to mix them with. :wacko: Of course, to make it somewhat legal, but he would twist the seals off of the bottles (which is required) and then screw the caps back on.

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I live in South Carolina so I'm definitely used to it, and drinks here will definitely wipe you out if you're not careful. The good thing is that you at least know you won't be cheated. The bad thing is that it is very hard to get multi-liquor drinks unless you share them with someone else. When you order shots at a bar, you usually order "2 3-ways" or maybe "3 4-ways".

Oh, thank you for posting. That does make sense now.

You reminded me once while at university, somehow one of my friends had mini bottles. Just a few... and we giggled as we smuggled them into a movie and supplemented our concession stand beverages. Impish, yes But it turned out to be all in silly fun! :wink:

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I, too, live in SC, drink gin martinis and believe the minibottle martini is teeny. Or maybe the glasses are just large.

Also, my understanding is that bars can pour from regular bottles but cannot charge for the drink. My favorite restaurant has a bottle of grappa in the back room saved for myself and one other patron.

By the way, former governor West died a few days ago. He was much revered here on Hilton Head Island,

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bleudauvergne: I wonder how they determined that size. Hmmm, I'll ask my distributors -- perhaps they will know.

Jiggers are a measuring cup for liquor, and do come in various sizes.

DaleJ: Yeah, the martini would be a bit small to today's "supersized" standards. Our general pour for a martini like cocktail is in the neighbourhood of 2 ounces of the base liquor, give or take a bit if it is something like a Milk Chocolate versus a Tanqueray 10 martini.

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50mL (the standard minibottle anywhere, I believe) is 1.7 ounces. I believe a jigger is 1.5 ounces.

Walt

Right about the 50 ml.

However jiggers are varied in size. I seemed to remember three different sizes but found 9 options here.

The folllowing are two sided, stainless steel measuring device that is available in the following increments:

1 x 2 ounces

3/4 x 1 ounce

3/4 x 1 1/2 ounces

3/4 x 1 1/4 ounces

1/2 x 1 ounce

1 x 1 1/2 ounces

7/8 x 1 1/4 ounces

1 x 1 1/4 ounces

The last option is a single-cup, 3-ounce, sized jigger.

edit: URL malfunction fix! :blink:

Edited by beans (log)
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Thinking about that three ounce jigger, I went back to the original search results (the link I did not post) and clicked on it to find that it is a pattern name for a Libbey glass! :blink::rolleyes:

Meh. :biggrin:

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Also in SC, you can't buy minibottles in a liquor store unless you have a restaurant license. If they change the law, they are thinking about requiring that bars only serve liquor out of 1 L bottles, and forbidding 1 L bottles for sale to the general public (so they can get the tax on the bottles). A really dumb idea if you ask me...

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Thought I'd weigh in on a couple of jigger points: Beans is right about the physical device, the jigger - and, as such, it comes in various sizes.

A jigger is also a somewhat variable UNIT of bartending measure - much like a Tot. The jigger unit has been pretty much standardized at 1.5 oz, but older bar books have ref'd a 1.25 oz jigger - and sometimes (depending on the book, locale, and era) a 2 oz jigger. The use of the term as a unit is old fashioned too, but continues to this day (having dropped off since the 70s).

The earliest citations actually called it a gigger. In those days other measures were equally perplexing:

the wineglass (2 oz) and of course the pony (1 oz). Actually, the wineglass makes more sense than you'd think: while in the 19th century they certainly had 4 oz wine glasses, what was meant by the measure was a sherry glass - to this day, with a 2 oz volume.

I apologize for swinging farther afield from South Carolina. I'll add this to that: I also caught the NPR piece. Most bars serve a 1.25 oz measure? Not the bars I go to. That's a very light pour in my experience.

--Doc.

Edited by drcocktail (log)
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:smile: Thanks!

Gary warned that you were good with the history part!

Everywhere I've worked our standard pour has been 1 1/4 ounces, but I've even worked a neighbourhood hang/local pub and an adult entertainment establishment (tending bar!! :rolleyes: ) that was actually reduced to a mere 1 ounce. :huh:

Perhaps it is more of a in the biz accommodation when you show up? Each and every bar my roomie, friends or co-workers hang out at almost always provides that extra heavy courtesy pour. Yikes, the other evening our serving bar goddess, Tina, was set upon trying to hurt us by pouring 3 ounce Jägers for shots. Even within moderation my head hurt the next day.

Perhaps geographic locale has something to play in this, as I would expect some decent sized cocktails when I visit New York, South Beach or in L.A.

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Well, that is a jigger for your venues then!

I guess the places I go are very cocktail recipe - bartender - centric. It's less about me, I am sure. I know, though, that if the recipe calls for 1.5 oz of this and 3/4 oz of that, that is what they'll pour - and if asked to pour a jigger, that's 1.5 oz in those places. Of course most of them DO take off running if they see ME come in.

You made me smile to think of the 1 oz clip joints and their sham-based shots- usually strong enough because they serve their drinks in Delmonico glasses. (For those of you not so well steeped -looky, a pun- in arcane glassware, that is about the size of a diner breakfast juice glass.)

--Doc.

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Oh, and Jager. Jeez, I went out one night in Chicago years ago with Charlie, the best bartender the Pump Room ever had, and he treated me to shots of Jager all night. I took 'em too. Didn't feel too worse for the wear when I got back to the hotel at about 4am. Then I looked in the mirror and gave myself whiplash. My whole face looked like W.C.Field's nose.

--Doc.

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