The mini-bottle debate

There are a lot of big issues being slung around this year before the election. Terrorism, prescription drugs, social security, the economy. All big and weighty things.

Here, it's different. Here, one of the more contentious issues is the mini-bottle. Specifically, whether restaurants and bars should be allowed to stick with mini-bottles, or go with free-pour.

Yes, South Carolina is the last state in the US that mandates the use of mini-bottles of alcohol. Those little bottles of booze you thought you only got on airplanes. You get them in SC too. And in SC, that's the only way liquor is allowed to be served. Tiny little 1.7 oz (42.5 mL) bottles.

You wouldn't think it would be such a big issue, but it is. The main reason why is of course money. Each mini-bottle carries a tax of $0.25, or 14.7 cents/ounce. The 5-8% sales tax (depending on where you live) on a regular 26 oz bottle of booze that costs around $15 is just 4.6 cents/oz. Or 5-8% sales tax on a $5-6 drink at the bar. That makes mini-bottles a huge source of revenue for the state.

Those that favour getting rid of mini-bottles say it will decrease the number of drunk driving deaths (apparently a similar decrease was seen in Utah when they got rid of mini-bottles). Tourists will get the amount of booze in each drink that they're used to instead of getting a wallopped by almost twice what they're usually accustomed to. Inventory management will be much easier for bars and restaurants. It'll be easier on the environment. Mixed drinks will be easier to make. And, drinks will be cheaper.

Those in favour of keeping the mini-bottles say people will just end up drinking more because the drinks will be watered down by free-pour (bollocks I say). Mean bartenders will serve watered down drinks. People know how exactly how much they're getting for their money. The state will have to find a way to make up for the lost revenue.

And that's essentially what it all comes down to...the all mighty $.