Distillers in North Carolina are raising glasses to Senate Bill 290, which cleared its final hurdle in the General Assembly Wednesday.

The ABC Regulatory Reform Act, which passed the Senate 31–10, would allow distilleries to sell mixed drinks on their premises. If Governor Cooper signs the legislation, many of the state’s distilleries could soon transform into cocktail bars, which could be a game-changer for the industry. 

Jonathan Blitz, an owner of Mystic Farm and Distillery in Durham, says the new law will put distillers on par with breweries and wineries and allow them to create a “destination consumer experience.”

“Obviously we’re ecstatic,” he says. “We worked really hard to explain to the legislators why this is so important to us. What it does, primarily, is let us engage with consumers in a way that really showcases our product.”

In addition to allowing the sale of mixed drinks and other alcoholic beverages at distilleries, the bill also lifts the bottle sales cap, which previously limited sales at distilleries to only five bottles of liquor a year per customer—and allows them to give tastings in local ABC stores.

As the INDY reported in February, the state’s distillers have seen tremendous growth in the last decade despite restrictive liquor laws and a sometimes problematic ABC warehouse system.

Distillers say the ability to sell cocktails on-premises will allow them to be more profitable, and the other provisions, including the ability to sample their products in stores, will help them reach more customers. 

Durham distiller Rim Vilgalys, who brews a Lithuanian liquor in a small warehouse on the outskirts of downtown, previously told the INDY the bill will “change really everything.”

“We’d be able to be a better part of the community around us. If we’re able to host an environment where people can come and hang out, then we can really start to participate in the great scene in Durham,” Rim Vilgalys, who brews a Lithuanian liquor in a small warehouse on the outskirts of downtown, previously told the INDY. 

Other distillers, including Knightdale’s Gentry Lassiter, are already prepared to renovate. Last month, he told the INDY he wants to turn Lassiter Distilling Company into a chic cocktail bar, Knightdale’s first. 

Contact staff writer Leigh Tauss at ltauss@indyweek.com.

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