Proposed bill would allow pre-mixed cocktails to be sold in Tennessee grocery stores

Posted at 5:03 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-21 21:36:49-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Eggs, milk, and... vodka soda? That could be on your shopping list, if a bill makes its way to the Governor's desk. You would still have to buy liquor bottles at the liquor store, but the bill would make it possible to purchase some of the pre-mixed cocktail drinks that contain vodka, bourbon and even tequila.

Under current Tennessee law, you can only buy beer, wine or malt liquor at Tennessee grocery stores. Anything else involving hard liquors requires a trip to the liquor store.

"I think, as a citizen, I would like to be able to go buy it in a market or a grocery store," said Rep. Pat Marsh, a Republican who also serves as Speaker Pro Tempore.

Marsh's bill would allow for pretty much any pre-mixed cocktail to be sold at the grocery store — as long as the alcohol content didn't exceed 10.1%.

"I think it's got a great chance; I hope so," said Marsh.

But it's turning into quite the lobbying war. Distilleries like Brown Forman, which owns Jack Daniel's in Lynchburg, are all for it. Liquor store owners are fighting fiercely against it.

"I didn’t think it was as big as it’s getting to be right now, but there’s some opposition coming out that I didn’t think we would have," said Marsh.

The battle reminds the manager of Compton's Foodland of the fight to allow wine in grocery stores nearly a decade ago.

"I think it’s going to be gradual, and it’s going to take some time," said John Carpenter, who serves as the store's manager.

As you might expect, wine became a big seller after that bill finally passed, and Carpenter predicts the same could happen with cocktails.

"If it’s something the people want, then we are more than happy to look at that because at this point it becomes a win-win," said Carpenter. "We would probably start small."

Customer Carrie Cleveland thinks it's a common-sense move.

"Most states have already gone to this as it is. Tennessee’s already allowing wine in stores, so you might as well do it and do it right," he said. "As long as you’re selling it safely and you’re getting tax revenue off of legal sales — go for it."

But don't start making your shopping list just yet. The bill has several stops in committee before each chamber gets to vote on it.

Get NewsChannel 5 Now, wherever, whenever, always free.

Watch the live stream below, and download our apps on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and more. Click here to learn more.