Senate passes legislation to guide ready-to-drink cocktails to market

LANSING, Mich. (March 25, 2021) — The Michigan Senate passed Senate Bills 141-144 today that would ease the tax burden on Michigan distillers working to get ready-to-drink canned cocktails to market.

“We have innovative distillers here in Michigan who are making products that are increasing in popularity,” Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) said. “The current law — which defines a 12 oz. can of a mixed cocktail the same as a full fifth of hard liquor — needs to be updated to remove tax barriers to enter into the market while still safely regulating these products for consumers.”

The four-bill package from Sen. Moss and Sens. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), and Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) would amend Michigan’s liquor law to define distilled canned cocktails as mixed spirits drinks, thereby reducing the tax rate from 48 cents per liter to 30 cents per liter.

“This is commonsense legislation to allow our small businesses to distribute new products to people all over Michigan,” Sen. Brinks said. “Grand Rapids may be known as ‘Beer City,’ but we have many innovative craft distillers who contribute to our economy and culture in West Michigan. Now that many national sellers are pushing seltzers and canned cocktail drinks, it’s only practical that we give our local businesses a fair chance to get their products in front of consumers easily and quickly.”

The bipartisan proposal also caps the alcohol content of these products at no more than 13.5% alcohol by volume in a metal can of 24 ounces or less, keeping them in line with seltzers on the market.

“I am proud to be part of a bipartisan package that helps support Michigan’s small distillers,” Sen. Schmidt said. “This industry is growing and evolving, and has become a strong contributing factor to northern Michigan’s continued success in the craft beverage industry — and this legislation eases government burdens on Michigan business. I support eliminating these burdensome hoops and approving measures that allow our businesses to thrive and serve more of their customers.”

“I am excited to see this package pass the Senate with bipartisan support,” Sen. VanderWall said. “Ready-to-drink cocktails are experiencing massive growth in the marketplace and these bills are a critical piece in ensuring that these products are able to compete on a level playing field. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to get these bills passed out of the House and onto the governor’s desk as soon as possible.”

All four bills passed the Senate with a 34-1 vote and now move on to the Michigan House for consideration.

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