Licensing board agrees mixing vodka with ginger makes it a liqueur; victory for East Boston restaurant that had its stock seized

The Boston Licensing Board agreed with Cafe Meridian today that tequilla mixed with liqueurs and vodka infused with anise is no longer hard liquor and that the restaurant has the right to sell the stuff.

The board's vote means the restaurant can ask Boston Police, which seized 61 bottles of alcohol while investigating a chair-throwing brawl on April 20, for most of the booze back. The board ruled that only one of the seized bottles - a container of Dewar's White Label - was considered "hard liquor" under state law and so properly seized because the restaurant's license is limited to beer, wine and liqueurs.

At a hearing on Tuesday, restaurant lawyer Michael Ford pointed to state law, which said hard stuff is converted into cordials or liqueurs if it's either mixed with a lot of sugar or infused with other material. In addition to the Dewar's White Label, police also seized aguardiente, Tortilla (tequila mixed with liqueurs) and vodka infused with anise.

Still, the restaurant did not go without punishment for the April 20 incident and another incident on May 26, in which a police officer noticed two guys sitting at the restaurant's bar drinking beers without any food - the restaurant is not actually licensed for a bar. The board "warned" the restaurant over the brawl - which could lead to stiffer penalties if it gets in trouble again over the next six months - and ordered it to shut for one day because of the bar incident.

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    Comments

    Kind of absurdist

    The fact that with one kind of license you can sell tequila infused with spices but you need a different kind of license to sell plain tequila reminds me in the bad old days of Sunday closing laws when it was legal to sell shampoo on Sundays but not legal to sell the adjacent-on-the-shelf bottle of hair conditioner.

    Yeah

    It does make about that much sense. I know a place (not in Boston) with a beer and wine only license that has Martini Mondays. How? They're not classic martinis.

    But rules pertaining to alcohol sales have never been rooted in logic. Make it one license only, because drunk is drunk is drunk. You either get an all alcohol license or none at all, but I'm fan of loosening up the regs and punishing the bad folks who would otherwise ruin things for responsible adults instead of coming down on everyone.