No "Jelly Shots" and Discount Drinks in CT?

A measure winding its way through the state Legislature would prohibit bars from offering discounted drinks and jello shots – typically a half-ounce of vodka mixed with gelatin – on the theory they promote alcohol abuse, especially among underage drinkers.

“There is no need to offer special incentives to increase alcohol
consumption. There’s a difference between allowing adults to make the
decision to drink and encouraging the decision to drink more,” said
Consumer Protection Commissioner Mark Shiffrin, whose agency oversees
liquor regulations.

The bill already has cleared the General Law Committee and last week
was sent from the House to the Judiciary Committee, which was set to
consider it Tuesday.

At Fatty McGee’s in Southington, summertime brings a rainbow of lemon,
lime and cherry jello shots. But getting to the bar means getting past
doormen who ask for proper identification.

“Why not go after what’s blatantly illegal instead of killing my
business?” said bar co-owner Ed Raffile.

People under 21 “are prohibited to be in the bar in the first place,”
he said. But legal drinkers are attracted by promotions – which can drop
the price of a $2.25 domestic draft to $1.50, Raffile said. “People come
in and say ‘Got any drink specials tonight?’ especially the college kids
who don’t have a lot of money,” he said.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Mark Shiffrin, whose agency is
charged with enforcing state liquor laws, said the discounts promote
abuse.

“There is no need to offer special incentives to increase alcohol
consumption. There’s a difference between allowing adults to make the
decision to drink and encouraging the decision to drink more,” he
said.

Sen. Thomas Gaffey, the chief proponent of the measure, last week said
it will strike at the heart of underage drinking. He said discounted
drinks and the jello shots target minors who are enticed by cheap prices
and sweet drinks.

“These are the events that attract underage children into bars,” said
Gaffey, D-Meriden.

When asked about the measure’s impact on legal drinkers looking for
bargains, and on fans of jello shots, Gaffey said, “I’m a killjoy, what
can I tell you?”

James Varano, president of the state’s Cafe and Bar Association and
owner of Hartford’s popular Black Eyed Sally’s, said the measure
penalizes bars that rigorously check IDs.

And, he said, people who drink set their own limits, which typically
deal with tolerance and not money.

“The thinking behind it is three or four beers is your limit, whether
those were two bucks or four bucks. (The proposal) doesn’t make a whole
lot of sense to me,” he said.

Varano also co-owns the Pig’s Eye Pub, a bar upstairs from his
restaurant that caters to a 20-something crowd. He said IDs constantly
are checked and that drink promotions are offered to encourage people to
try different microbrews, not to attract underage drinkers or encourage
people to get drunk.

AP-ES-04-07-98 1715EDT<
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