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The flow of B.C. liquor-law-reform news releases could drive you to drink

I know what you're thinking – Friday came and went without an announcement about liquor law reform from John Yap, B.C.'s parliamentary secretary for liquor law reform. Yes, I felt the same emptiness.

I'm chalking it up to Remembrance Day falling on a Friday. Perhaps even the people in charge of churning out literally endless boozy, newsy releases curbed their enthusiasm, you know, out of respect.

It turns out that I missed one earlier in the week – in my defence, I was out of town.

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On Monday, the province announced that liquor licensing has apparently been streamlined for business and local government. The upshot is that a series of dense and indecipherable regulations governing the sale of liquor has been made slightly less confusing. There's something about local governments and First Nations providing input relevant to their communities while further streamlining the application process. About time.

And if you're still awake, there's more: "Additionally the Province has reduced the criteria on which local governments and First Nations must comment on instances when they provide a council resolution to the LCLB regarding a liquor primary licence, manufacturer lounge or special event area application."


Since the province undertook its liquor policy review three years ago, good news announcements have been flowing at regular intervals, like … um, fresh-hopped ale in late October. The tap never runs dry.

The review has given us children in pubs, happy hours and the ability to carry your own drink around like an adult. It has also given us 24/7 cocktails at hotels, locally made booze at farmers' markets and very, very limited access to wine in grocery stores.

As of April of this year, 41 of the 73 regulations have been implemented.

April of this year also happens to be the month when NDP MLA David Eby poked merciless fun at the whole good-news-booze Friday construct.

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"New Democrats pledge to establish a formal B.C. Ministry for Liquor Announcements should they win the 2017 election," read the April 1 news release.

"If there's one thing we've learned from the B.C. Liberals, it's that there's nothing like a liquor announcement to distract from important problems that plague the Christy Clark government."

Clearly he was onto something.

And then, last week came the announcement that was beyond satire or parody. The headline: "Cocktail hours are about to get better!"

It continues, "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."

It goes on, explaining infusion and aging for beginners, "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."

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Minimum wage, per-student funding and, yes, infused and aged liquor – all areas where B.C. has fallen woefully behind national averages. Thankfully, one of them is finally being made right.

I imagine one day, a morning briefing where John Yap fights back – mildly.

"We've got another liquor announcement for you today, John."

"Ugh, what it is today?"

"We're regulating the circumference of olives to be used in martinis, and the minimum width of lime-wedge garnish. We're also introducing sodium content rules for the rims of Caesars."

"Seriously? You want me to stand behind a podium in front of TV cameras and say that?"

"Be a team player, John."

"I won't do it. It's stupid."

"Fine, we'll get Suzanne Anton."

"Okay, okay. What's a Caesar?"

Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver.

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