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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: I-1183

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June 6, 2012 at 11:30 AM

I-1183: from ballot to bottle service

Washingtonians began June with a new opportunity to purchase hard liquor in non–state retail outlets. The UW Election Eye team was out that first Friday looking for clues as to what the new drinking landscape looked like from the bar stool perspective.

SEATTLE — Last week marked the end of a 78-year old system and a multi-year battle to get liquor on the shelves of private retailers. During the 2010 election cycle, two initiatives were

"Dark and Stormy" craft cocktail prepared at Hazelwood in Ballard. (Photo by Dan Thornton / UW Election Eye)

put forth to the people — I-1100 and I-1105 — both aiming to get liquor out of the state-run stores and both failed. Last year, only one initiative was on the ballot concerning liquor distribution and it was backed by more than $20 million from Costco. And it passed.

Since last November, the state, retailers and new distributors have been moving quickly to transition from the 78-year old system. Friday, June 1st marked the first day that state liquor stores were out and private distributors and retailers were in.

Costco was not the only store to provide liquor to its customers on June 1. From Safeway to Fred Meyer, from QFC to Bartell Drugs, retailers made room for the new products on their shelves. The impacts of the new distribution system reach beyond the newly stocked shelves of grocers and the empty ones of the now defunct state stores. A privatized distribution system means new prices (for now, higher prices), new products and potentially new menus at local bars.

At Hazlewood, a craft cocktail bar in Ballard, the staff on hand on Friday had mixed feelings about the change. Tending the bar during the first happy hour of the new era, Hazelwood co-owner Keith Bartoloni described the new system as a challenge for bar owners and managers to be more resourceful. After the two main distributors, Southern Spirits and Young’s Market, bar owners are still waiting to see what products get picked up and where they will need to go to stock their bars. “Craft cocktailers will need to do a little more shopping.”

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Comments | More in State | Topics: Costco, Hazlewood, I-1183

May 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Lessons for Washington on the politics of alcohol from Wisconsin

Washington’s new liquor law is bringing big changes to the state’s alcohol industry. What can we learn from a state known for its alcohol about the future of booze?

Whether it is bars, restaurants, or distilleries, all will be affected by the new Washington law, and everything that comes with it. (Lucas Anderson / UW Election Eye)

MILWAUKEE — The politics and economics of alcohol in Washington change tomorrow, when sales of liquor move from a state enterprise to a private one. The state of Wisconsin is rich with lessons for what might come next for Washington.

Wisconsin is the birthplace of Miller Brewing and contains the city with the most liquor licenses per capita, some of the lowest taxes on beer, and one of the highest percentages of adults who binge drink. In short, it’s a state that knows alcohol.

What the history of Wisconsin makes clear is that alcohol is political.

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Comments | More in National | Topics: Alcohol, Bars, Beer

May 30, 2012 at 12:14 PM

June 1st means new liquor distribution; join UW Election Eye for conversation

SEATTLE — On Friday, the Washington State Liquor Control Board will end its liquor store and liquor distribution operations. Resulting from the passage of I-1183, this means that liquor will be sold in newly licensed privately owned stores that have at least 10,000 square feet of retail space. For Washingtonians of legal drinking age, that means…

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Comments | More in Local | Topics: Booze, I-1183, Washington liquor law