Iowa lawmakers to consider bill legalizing infused liquor - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa lawmakers to consider bill legalizing infused liquor

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Kurt Friese was hoping to offer customers something unique at the restaurant he's owned for 15 years in downtown Iowa City.

"One of our wine wholesalers came in and said that this vision I had for our own bitters, our own infusions, our own barrel-aged cocktails is actually illegal," Friese said.

The Iowa state code currently does not allow the commercial infusing of liquor.  Under Iowa law, bartenders cannot combine herbs, spices, vegetables, or fruits with spirits and then allow the mixture to sit for long periods of time before being sold for consumption.

"I'm not one to be deterred very easily so I just thought I'd set out and get the couple lines of the Iowa code changed," Friese said.

Friese's grassroots movement has gathered plenty of support from customers and bar owners across the state.

Now a bill sitting in the Iowa Senate is calling for a change to what many believe is an outdated law.

"I can't sell anything out of these original containers which dates back before prohibition.  This is a different world we live in, and it's perfectly feasible to be able to make these unique libations for people to really enjoy," Friese said.

The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division says it's in the process of reviewing the bill's language.  The department has heard some concerns about repealing the current law, most of which coming from manufacturers.

These companies spend a lot of money in developing their brands and increasing the brand recognition, and they are not enthusiastic typically with something that's going to possibly erode that," Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division's communications director Tonya Dusold said.

Lawmakers will take up the issue in Des Moines next Tuesday in a Senate subcommittee, with many like Friese hoping this trendy practice will have a place in Iowa.

"It makes our bars and restaurants into interesting destination locations.  It makes them unique," Friese said.

 

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