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Friday, April 11, 2008

Dept. of Killjoys

posted by on April 11 at 9:55 AM

The multifold dangers posed to society by urban professionals drinking glasses of chardonnay while attending cooking classes have been averted. The good old Washington State Liquor Control Board is taking killing joy to a new level, according to this email from Culinary Communion:

We were visited yesterday by a representative of the Washington State Liquor Control Board who informed us that there has been a change in the interpretation of the state liquor law. As a result, our practice of offering wine with cooking classes (like that of every other cooking school in the Seattle area) is now considered out of compliance with the law.

This comes as quite a surprise given that we’ve been operating for six years exactly as we were instructed to by the Liquor Control Board…. we have been ordered to cease and desist serving any and all alcohol on our premises; this includes tasting or drinking wine with cooking classes, and it also includes BYOB liquor….

We are shocked by this ruling and are working furiously to change it and/or bring CC into compliance as quickly as possible.

According to the Liquor Control Board, “The law (RCW 66.12.140) does not allow drinking alcohol during culinary courses. If someone wants to cook with alcohol during a culinary course, you must have written approval from the Board.” If a culinary school wants people to be able to drink (or sautee mushrooms in vermouth without a note from Mom) during classes, they can either apply for a restaurant license and meet all the incumbent requirements, or they can apply for a beer/wine specialty shop license, which entails maintaining a $3000 wholesale beer and/or wine inventory.

Also: The Liquor Control Board visited Culinary Communion because of a complaint. What kind of a killjoy would complain about people drinking wine during a cooking class?

In possibly related news: The underground (and illegal) restaurant Gypsy has apparently been shut down.

RSS icon Comments


But did they carry the wine home in a plastic bag? That is what the nanny state really wants to know!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | April 11, 2008 10:02 AM

Oh, God damn it to motherfucking hell.

What is it going to take to lance the infected anal boil that is the WSLCB? I hate them SO FUCKING MUCH.

Posted by Fnarf | April 11, 2008 10:03 AM

"If someone wants to cook with alcohol during a culinary course, you must have written approval from the Board."

This is...I'm just....this can't be for real.

Posted by levide | April 11, 2008 10:15 AM

Well, the Director of Marketing for Culinary Communion (Heidi Kenyon) owns the domain name for Gypsy (gypsydinner). Just sayin'.

Posted by Amy | April 11, 2008 10:15 AM

How on earth are they going to enforce this?

Posted by kid icarus | April 11, 2008 10:18 AM

this is so stupid. it is stupid, but it is nothing like the plastic bags.

Posted by infrequent | April 11, 2008 10:19 AM

This is a hundred million times stupider than the plastic bag thing. Written permission to make Beer Can Chicken? Or any of the eighteen million wine reduction sauces? Fuck you, WSLCB.


Posted by Fnarf | April 11, 2008 10:23 AM


Posted by Amy | April 11, 2008 10:26 AM

no for reals..
i'm with fnarf.. what would it take to completely rid this city of the most asnine, backwards, responsible to no one, fascistic, and almost secret socities in this city ?
i've seen clubs fine to bare existence over issues of lighting, how much public nudity may be allowed, (..' no nipples ever' ) dancing, and recently noise infractions. and almost always they'll say they've 'received a complaint '. they don't have to tell you who complained and they won't. their rules arbitrarily and magically appear as do the fines.
who knows what we have do to boot the whole lot of them ? meinert do you know ? i too hate them SO FUCKING MUCH.

Posted by reverend dr dj riz | April 11, 2008 10:31 AM

It's pretty horrifying when supposedly liberal Washington State has a Liquor Control Board that is far more conservative and draconian that any in the Bible Belt.

Posted by michael strangeways | April 11, 2008 10:37 AM

Grrrr. I'm so mad I can't even type a coherent post about this. I'm bummed about Gypsy and I'm bummed about the cool classes at Culinary Communion having to be changed. And I'm sad that Heidi and Gabriel have to deal with this crap. And dammit, the law is stupid. stoo-pid.

Posted by PopTart | April 11, 2008 10:38 AM
Posted by Amy | April 11, 2008 10:39 AM

If anything ever called for an initiative, or a special session of the legislature, to once and for all abolish the Liquor Control Board, this is it.

I'd even sign a Tim F'ing Eyman petition for that.

Posted by asdf | April 11, 2008 10:41 AM

It'd take an Eyman initiative to abolish it--WSLCB's a big revenue source for the state, and a favorite dumping ground for the governor's campaign contributors and old politicos waiting for their pensions to vest.

Problem is, everytime someone suggests eliminating it, they point to all the union jobs that would be lost out of the liquor stores. Then the conversation bogs down to nothingness.


Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 11, 2008 10:45 AM

If you pay Tim Eynman to do it he will. He is such a whore.

Did the LCB say anything about cooking with weed?

Posted by elswinger | April 11, 2008 10:51 AM

Costco and the big box stores that'd like to sell hard alcohol might do it.......

Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 11, 2008 10:53 AM

Thanks for the link to the RCW.

Short of abolishing the Board, I would amend the first sentence of paragraph (1) to add "and consumption" and delete "for cooking purposes," and delete paragraph (5) entirely.

That shouldn't violate the single subject rule.

Posted by asdf | April 11, 2008 10:54 AM

Washingtin state has THE MOST RETARDED liquer laws EVER! I swear it's run by a 95 year old retired nun.

Posted by monkey | April 11, 2008 10:54 AM

I'm pretty sure a $10 banquet permit available at any liquor store would get around this. Simple to get at least 1 day before any event, allows for BYOB or giving away alchohol, it just cant be sold (cough...donation jar...cough).

Posted by Gabe | April 11, 2008 10:57 AM

I used to have wied eyed fath in the ideals and promise of socialism...then I turned 21 in washington and learned the ins and outs of state run liquer stores, the ridiculous hours, over trafficed locations,etc
Even the bars around here are pretty strict compaired to oregon where you can drink in a movie theater

I'm not saying your utah or anything but your pretty strict considering you dont have nearly as much fundamentalists as texas and they have some of the loosest laws in the country (not counting california)

Posted by linus | April 11, 2008 11:00 AM

This makes me want to cry. Who turned them in? Was it a personal vendetta?

Posted by Dawgson | April 11, 2008 11:01 AM

Yeah, you know it was kind of a culture shock coming here from Denver where you can get liquor anywhere (just not on Sunday--but I think they changed that?). And I always feel uncomfortable at the state liquor store, especially since I don't go often so I tend to stock up and then I feel like they are passing judgement on my large quantity of liquor as they scan it. And there are always several creepy old men clutching cheap bottles of Monarch Rum standing too close to me and breathing down my neck.

Posted by PopTart | April 11, 2008 11:08 AM

Just cook with pot instead.

Posted by Cat in Chicago | April 11, 2008 11:08 AM

I'm a union member, and I have a prepared response to the "oh, but we'd lose all those good union jobs" argument: Oh for fuck's sake, fuck off.

Alcoholic beverages above a nebulously-defined percentage level (regular stores sell port and sherry, which is fortified with brandy, and runs up to about 18-20%) is a RETAIL PRODUCT just like any other retail product. Tax? Sure, no problem, I don't care if you tax the shit out of the stuff. Prevent sales to minors? Fine, I don't care.

But WHY WHY WHY do I have to drive a ridiculous distance to buy a bottle of Scotch if I get stuck at work past 7:00 PM, which is when my local store shuts? WHY WHY WHY do I have to drive even further if I want to buy it on a Sunday, a day that is a RELIGIOUS HOLIDAY for some people but not for me? WHY WHY WHY can I not get any of the common brands I enjoy the most, or the uncommon brands that I love to experiment with? WHY WHY WHY is some knob-like bureaucrat in Olympia deciding that White Horse Scotch (the only cheap blend with Islay malts in it) available at Greenwood but not Wallingford or Ballard?

When I visit Corti Brothers in Sacramento, CA, or Lee's Discount Liquors in Las Vegas, NV, or -- Jesus God Almighty -- Binny's in Chicago, IL, why do I almost burst into tears at the incredible selection of items I've never even heard of -- a hundred different kinds of rum! Why can't we have that?

That's not even mentioning the kind of jackass rules that got a Greek restaurant's license pulled shut down for having -- GASP! -- Greek dancing, or this latest buzzkill.

God damn the WSLCB to hell.

Posted by Fnarf | April 11, 2008 11:28 AM

funny poptart, i was liveing in that hellhole greeley for about six months before i came out through liquer stores...yeah I like to get my stuff in a hurry but COMEON!! this isint mcdonolds...i think it's ridiculous but I'm not a damned fool who demands places like that close,wonder how much the kill joys would freak if they saw one of those drivethrough shops

Posted by linus | April 11, 2008 11:37 AM

When this gets picked up by the national press and the state gets some appropriate ridicule perhaps the legislature will make an amendment to the liqour law. Let's face it, cooking schools are small businesses and the legislature is supposedly pro-business. I won't hold my breath but I may use it to call my local state rep.

Posted by inkweary | April 11, 2008 11:40 AM

@24: I cry when I walk in a *Safeway* in California. A large selection of alcohol, sale prices, buying in bulk, one stop shopping... why is it so hard here?

Can't we tax it without setting arbitrary rules and prices?

Posted by Dawgson | April 11, 2008 11:49 AM

Do the drive-thru liquor stores in Louisiana still serve alcoholic drinks in big cups, to-go? I think it was the only state without an open container law at one point.

My favorite retarded liquor law is the one in I think North Carolina, which REQUIRES that all bars stock booze only in single-serving bottles, i.e., airplane bottles. Doubles, triples, no problem, it just has to come out of the mini-bottles. They open and pour MILLIONS of the fucking things, and their trash piles are an awesome thing to behold.

Posted by Fnarf | April 11, 2008 11:52 AM

@28 - that's South Carolina you're talkin' about.

- North Carolina.

Posted by Amy | April 11, 2008 11:57 AM

I always get you cracker states confused.

Posted by Fnarf | April 11, 2008 12:02 PM

This email from Culinary Communion is incredibly disingenuous. Go to their website. The class at the top of the page is a bourbon tasting. They are selling liquor. The WSLCB is 100% correct in requiring them to get the proper permits and licenses. Just because they also offer cooking classes does not exempt them from having to follow the law.

Get the laws changed. Quit bitching about people enforcing the laws.

Posted by Graham | April 11, 2008 12:07 PM

@31: Teaching classes in enjoying and pairing spirits is not the same as "selling liquor." It's an educational activity that happens to involve booze.

Am I wrong? Are they selling casks of bourbon after the class?

Puritanical bullsh-t.

Posted by Dawgson | April 11, 2008 12:15 PM


They still do have the drive-thru frozen drinks in Louisiana. The rule is, as long as the straw's not in the cup, it's not an open container!

Posted by Al | April 11, 2008 12:18 PM

Who pushes this shit? What's the big lobby that keeps these laws on the books.. or rather, enforced? Having grown up in Washington, I cannot describe my joy the other day when MOTHERFUCKING RITE AID was having a sale on Bourbon (Whiskey, really, but I prefer the former variety, which was included). Not the best selection, but Makers is good enough for me. It's like everything was right for a moment.

And while we're talking about it, FUCK YOU M.A.A.D.

Posted by Dougsf | April 11, 2008 12:48 PM

@34: Mothers Against Alcoholic Dougs?

Posted by Al | April 11, 2008 1:19 PM

It's because they all have dough and don't want to lose any of it to taxes. And to justify their greed, they come up with some shit like, "I can more efficiently spend my money than the government can."

OK...then repair some bridges, motherfucker.

It's all about money. That's where their priorities lie. Money uber alles.

Posted by Bauhaus | April 11, 2008 1:22 PM

#36 Ooops. Wrong post.

WSLCB is a joke. Why does it take so long to undo all the post-prohibition provincialism in this state? California hasn't fallen into the sea (yet) by allowing liquor to be sold - well - everywhere.

I was speaking to a hairdresser a few months ago. She used to offer a glass of wine to her clients but had to stop the practice because of the WSLCB. Stupid and sad and it needs to be changed.

Outside of the Bible Belt, it must be a uniquely Northwest thing. Oregon is nearly as bad (in a restaurant, you can only have two drinks before ordering food) and British Columbia has some pretty provincial liquor laws as well.

Posted by Bauhaus | April 11, 2008 1:34 PM

Fnarf, I cry at Binny's too.

I'm guessing this is kind of a wakeup call for similar outfits who host "underground dinners" with guest chefs, eh? What a bummer.

Seattle: More like Provo every day.

Posted by frederick r | April 11, 2008 2:46 PM

@29: WA is so cracker.

Posted by Amy | April 11, 2008 2:58 PM

Until very recently, you could order liquor from places like Binny's and BevMo and have it delivered to your door. Shipping could be pretty expensive, but you could get a lot of spirits not available in the state-run shitholes.

They started cracking down on that a few months ago. Fuckers.

Posted by MyNameIsNobody | April 11, 2008 3:01 PM

You can still get liquor delivered from online places. Just make sure it's got "wine" in the name so they think it's wine (which is legal).

Death to the WSLCB.

Posted by Fnarf | April 11, 2008 3:54 PM

I've addressed this issue in previous posts on the same subject; if you want to direct your wrath and ire at the entity holding WA back to end-of-prohibition asshattery, blame the WA Restaurant Association.

They're the ones who played a major role in pushing through "state-run liquor stores", "exclusive, non-competitive beer & wine distribution system", and until just a few years ago, the "only places that serve food can serve booze by-the-glass" provisions we've had to live with since drinking became legal again in this country.

Restaurants still make HUGE profits from liquor sales, even with the relaxation of where you can buy drinks, and they're going to fight to keep that economic edge for as long as possible - and they've got the cash to put up one hellofa fight, if it comes down to that.

But, I generally do agree with most of the posters here, the WSLCB is an archaic dinosaur in a land of scrappy mammals, and needs to become extinct as soon as it is both politically and practically possible.

Posted by COMTE | April 11, 2008 3:58 PM

oh shit. I'm taking a class at CC right now...I think it's because of this under 21 girl in my class. Maybe she told her mom that we were all drinking wine (and NOT offering her any) and the mom freaked and called the city...or one of the other attendees...(is not looking forward to my baking class tomorrow now due to suspecting one of them is a douche)

Posted by hand to mouth | April 11, 2008 4:25 PM

It kills me that we have public money devoted to prevent the serving of alcohol in a cooking class but we can't get enough public money to find a man that's groped 23 Asian women or the man that shot 3 people in a pub last Friday. Of these three issues all happening on Beacon Hill, I'd say alcohol at the CC is the least of my concerns.

Posted by Beacon Hill Resident | April 11, 2008 6:24 PM

Thank god that The State has FINALLY responded with shock & awe to the lawlessness on Beacon Hill. No doubt the shooter at the Beacon Hill pub last Friday had just wrapped up his Indian cooking class when he decided to go bust a cap into a couple of classmates who had fucked up his Vindaloo...nanny state indeed, good to see my tax $$$ being well spent! Now I know that the WSLCB is not responsible for criminal investigations relating to the discharge of firearms into humans, but FUCK ME, what is becoming of WA state??

Posted by kwood | April 11, 2008 8:23 PM

Talk about your tempest in a teatotaler pot...this is it. Granted, it gives everyone a chance to vent about the State being in the liquor business (for the record I don't think they should be), but for every guideline there are 2 ways around it, legally.

If you are cooking with bourbon and not serving it, that's legal. Heat evaporates the alchohol, you are not serving alchohol. It's not illegal to posess booze if you are over 21, so this is legal all the way, easy.

If you are serving bourbon, simply get a banquet permit as I posted earlier. Takes 5 minutes, costs $10. End around, case closed.

Yes, the WSLCB is archaic, but far from draconian, if people bothered to research the laws, or even ask questions of the powers that be, this is a non-issue.

Bottom line, follow the rules nominally and fork over $10 and you can do what you want, where you want.

Posted by Gabe | April 12, 2008 9:52 AM

@46: Actually it takes a really long time for all the alcohol to burn off.

Posted by Dawgson | April 12, 2008 10:00 AM

@47, I stand corrected! Never saw those numbers before, guess I've ilegally served lots of people...french cooking and such:)

Keep in mind though something like bourbon in cooking is usually used in small amounts as it's an overpowering flavor, so using 2 oz. in a preparation for 8 and burning off any leaves very little per person, though enough for the WSLCB I guess.

Basically anyone who uses wine in cooking can be faulted for this too.

On a side note, got a killer recipe for Chocolate Boubon Pecan Pie that will get you tipsy on a slice if anyone (over 21) is interested.

Posted by Gabe | April 12, 2008 10:29 AM

The state can move alcohol to retail and tax it just the same as they do cigarettes. They would no longer have the overhead of labor and space costs that they do now and make even more money. Just feel lucky that we don't live in a state, like New York, which does not allow you to bring wine or beer in from other states.

Posted by elswinger | April 12, 2008 11:46 AM

@48: I love Chocolate Pecan Pie.

@49: What are you talking about exactly? I know I've drunk several California wines and Vermont beers in my youth in NYC.

Posted by Dawgson | April 13, 2008 10:16 PM

uh, what about the non-credit community classes on wine tasting at Seattle Central or North Seattle Comm College? Boy, I guess they need to be shut down too. I wonder if Mayor Dickles called in the complaint on Culinary Communion because they allowed the leftovers to go home in styrofoam containers neatly placed in plastic bags? Just think'n.

Posted by starwood | April 14, 2008 9:47 AM

Dawgson, you only drank west coast wines in NYC because a NYC licensed liquor importer bought it and served or sold it to you. As a private person you cannot come to Washington, Oregon, or California and pick up a bottle of wine and take it back to NYC (unless you have a liquor import license.) About 15 states (including Massachusetts) have similar laws. It is supposed to protect New York's local vineyards (which sounds like an oxymoron).

Posted by elswinger | April 14, 2008 11:57 AM

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