Clever advertising and an engaging social media presence are significant aspects of many successful businesses, and the hospitality and brewing industry is no exception. The competition for patron dollars and loyalty is fierce in British Columbia, particularly in Vancouver. With British Columbians enjoying an ever widening variety of locally made craft beer, wine and spirits and exciting new venues to consume them in, connecting with the public through creative and targeted advertising is more important than ever. Unlike other industries though, the liquor production and service industry is heavily regulated and those regulations control how a licensed establishment or manufacturer is permitted to advertise.
UPDATE: Beginning January 23, 2017 licensees will be permitted to infuse liquor and age cocktails at the establishment, provided it is done in a container other than the original container the liquor was in when legally purchased. All conditions outlined in the terms and conditions of a licence must be met when infusing liquor or ageing cocktails
Barrel-aged cocktails (spirit-only mixtures aged in new or used oak casks) have become a popular fixture in craft cocktail bars across North America. Cocktails aged in oak can develop deep and complex flavours – breathing new life into classic concoctions. As this 2010 New York Times article reports, barrel-aged cocktails are being poured from San Francisco to Boston. They’re also being casked and poured in Vancouver. Unfortunately that is violation of the Regulation of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act as well as the terms and conditions contained in the Guide for Liquor Primary Licensees in British Columbia.
All licensees in British Columbia are responsible for knowing and complying with the rules set out in the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, the Regulation as well as the terms of their licence. This includes liquor agents.
In response to Recommendations #3, #4 and #5 contained in the Final Report, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch is considering a requirement that in 2015 all licensed establishments and liquor stores display “social responsibility educational materials” in their premises.
Though Mr. Yap’s Final Report has been widely praised for its progressive recommendations related to the production and sale of alcohol in British Columbia, there are nevertheless recommendations contained in the Report that should be of concern to licensees.
The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch issues food primary licences to businesses (restaurants) where the primary purpose, through all hours and areas of operation, is the service of food. This is in contrast to liquor primary licences (bars, lounges and night clubs) where the primary purpose of the business is the service of liquor.
After receiving a Contravention Notice for the alleged breach of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act or a term of your licence, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch may follow-up by issuing a Notice of Enforcement Action. This document should contain two crucial pieces of information: sufficient particulars of the Branch’s allegations, so that you are able to understand the Branch’s case against you, and the Branch’s proposed penalty.
On January 31, 2014 the Ministry of Justice released the B.C. Liquor Policy Review Final Report. This comprehensive report was the product of 87 days of consultation including 65 stakeholder meetings, and the input from tens of thousands of engaged British Columbians. Though there have been many updates and amendments to the current legislation over the past century, never before has the Provincial government consulted so extensively with stakeholders and the public. The Report made 73 recommendations in total, all of which have been endorsed by the government.