The P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission is hoping to create a buzz about Island-made alcohol.
It recently made changes to the Liquor Control Act to allow people who eat at restaurants to purchase locally-made booze.
The catch is, people must eat a full meal at the restaurant in order to place a take-out order for a bottle of wine, spirits or beer. Finger foods don’t count.
“It’s still a very young industry here on P.E.I.,’’ said Jamie MacLeod, director of corporate services with the liquor commission, referring to those on P.E.I. who manufacture alcohol. “The commission was looking at ways to hopefully support local manufacturers.’’
The commission also had tourists in mind when it made the change.
“Tourists are in having a meal and happen to buy an Island product. There is an opportunity for them right there on the spot to hopefully purchase the product and take it home with them and pass the good word around.’’
Restaurants will require a special licence from the commission. Of the 485 licences across the province, between 200 and 225 will be eligible to apply for the special licence.
MacLeod said a similar, but not identical, licence is available in about five other provinces or territories but the rules are more relaxed elsewhere. In Alberta, for example, there is no restriction on what can be purchased in terms of the type of product or amount.
The restrictions on P.E.I. are — a maximum of two 750-ml bottles of wine, two 750-ml bottles of spirits and the equivalent of up to 12 355-ml cans/bottles of beer.
Sales on P.E.I. are also restricted to 9 a.m. to midnight.
Other provinces also don’t require patrons to eat before they purchase take-out alcohol.
“We added the social responsibility element that there has to be a sit-down meal. It can’t be finger food. It has to be a legitimate meal from a menu that we would approve of.’’
Liam Dolan, who owns three restaurants in Charlottetown and was recently elected chairman of the board of Restaurants Canada, gives the move a thumbs-up.
“I think it’s great for the manufacturer, for the little wineries and the little breweries,’’ Dolan said. “Is anybody going to sell a whole lot of it? I don’t think so but I think it’s a great convenience for tourists coming in.’’