State Liquor Stores
Glenn Reynolds points to a story by Doug Winship about Washington State’s liquor stores running out of, um, liquor just in time for the July 4th weekend during which all good Americans celebrate their country’s independence by getting hammered. Naturally, all liquor stores in Washington State are run by the government of the state of Washington who 1) screwed up royally and 2) don’t really care because, after all, they don’t have a lot of competition.
While I’ve seldom had difficulty getting the beverages needed to restock our bar at Virginia’s ABC stores, having a state-run monopoly does have its quirks. For example, I went in the other day to procure some Angostura bitters. You know the brand that’s synonymous with bitters and that’s a key ingredient in many classic cocktails. It seems that, for reasons unknown to the manager of my local ABC store, the Commonwealth has decided not to stock Angostura bitters but rather Peychaud’s. Both are esteemed brands that have been around nearly two hundred years but Peychaud’s is much less, er, bitter than Angostura. True connoisseurs of such things, of which I am decidedly not one, tend to keep a supply of both on hand as the properties of each go better with different cocktails.
Certainly, if this were the worst thing the Commonwealth’s government were doing, I’d be quite pleased. But there’s no obvious reason why private individuals shouldn’t be able to open liquor stores and supply a wider variety of products.