It's time to liberate Iowa's talented mixologists from restrictive laws that inhibit nothing but their creativity. Iowa's bartenders are currently barred from infusing their own spirits, or making bitters or barrel-aged cocktails. Iowa Code § 123.49(2) should be corrected. In a letter I received from the Iowa ABD from Karen Freund, Deputy Administrator for Regulation and Compliance, in response to my request for permission to produce infused spirits and bitters, Ms. Freund stated:
"In the email, you describe a process of adding botanical flavors to spirits to create a bitter, which is added, by drop, to cocktails. The information you provided involves a process of adulterating alcoholic liquor, otherwise known as infusing liquor. To be compliant with Iowa law, this process shall not:
1) Involve keeping alcoholic liquor in any container except the original package
purchased from the division (Iowa Code § 123.49(2)(d)) and
2) Adulterate the contents or remaining contents of an original package of an
alcoholic liquor or wine by the addition of any substance or knowingly possess
any original package which has been reused or adulterated (Iowa Code
It is an arcane and intrusive law that restricts the creativity of Iowa's many talented mixologists. Infused spirits, bitters, and barrel-aged cocktails do not increase alcohol abuse, in fact they temper it by getting drinkers to concentrate on the true savor of their cocktails as opposed to looking at them as mere alcohol delivery systems. Iowa's bars, especially those that have restaurants, are perfectly capable of serving these libations safely, "Raising the Bar" for everyone.