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News Briefs for April 9, 2020

April 9, 2020

•Jose Cuervo will donate $1 million as part of its effort to help people suffering from the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. The money will go to two charities: Children of Restaurant Employees, which assists the offspring of service industry workers in times of personal and public crisis; and the World Central Kitchen, which gets meals to vulnerable populations and frontline healthcare workers. The donation follows a $200,000 pledge to the United States Bartender Guild Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program, made on behalf of the company’s Bushmills brand. More than 15 million people in the U.S. have now filed for unemployment in the last three weeks.

•The Kentucky House and Senate have passed legislation to allow direct-to-consumer shipping of beverage alcohol into the state by distillers, vintners, and brewers. The bill received neither signature nor veto from Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, meaning that it’s now law and will become effective 90 days after the legislature adjourns, which is expected to occur next week. That sets a starting date of around mid-July. Producers of beer and wine will be permitted to ship a maximum of 10 cases per consumer per month, while distillers will be allowed to ship up to 10 liters per consumer per month.

•Amid reports that customers were congregating in large groups around some local beverage alcohol retail stores, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot yesterday announced a new curfew that requires 9pm closings each day. She threatened merchants in noncompliance with fines, arrests, and revocation of licenses, though groceries that sell alcohol will be allowed to stay open later if they shut down alcohol sales by 9pm. Since Illinois’ stay-at-home orders were first enacted two weeks ago, the state has broken up 2,000 groups that were violating social-distancing rules, including a high of 300 on Tuesday of this week, when the weather turned warm. Many beverage alcohol retailers had already cut their back hours voluntarily, with the 42-store Binny’s Beverage Depot’s latest closing hours set at 7pm on Friday and Saturday.

•Lodi, California-based Michael David Winery has reintroduced its Lodi Red wine after an absence from the national market. Originally introduced in 1999, Lodi Red is a blend of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Carignan. The newly revived offering features refreshed packaging, as well as expanded distribution; while the wine had recently been a tasting room exclusive, it will now be available again nationwide. The Michael David portfolio also includes such brands as Freakshow, and Petite Petit. Freakshow recently earned Impact “Hot Brand” honors after climbing 35% to 272,000 cases last year.

•Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits’ Redemption Whiskey and Gray Whale Gin are launching a new “virtual bar” initiative to help bartenders amid the Covid-19 crisis. Both brands are hiring out-of-work bartenders for virtual “shifts,” encouraging them to create and submit original cocktails with Redemption or Gray Whale. Hired bartenders will be paid $350 for their shift and be featured along with their cocktail on the brands’ social media pages. The program will run over the next 15 weeks with the plan to hire about 60 bartenders from across the country. More information can be found on the brands’ Instagram pages.

•Breakthru Beverage Group has announced a new partnership with local relief organizations across the U.S., pledging $500,000 to help combat the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the company, the money will go towards purchasing meals for first responders, children, and the elderly across the nation. In addition to working with local groups across its 13-state footprint, Breakthru will also make a donation to the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation.

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