With a new month come new liquor laws in Manitoba, and while some of them won't directly affect the average imbiber, there are a few changes that consumers will be be interested to learn about...
Restaurants now have the option of introducing a BYO wine policy -- that is to say, diners can bring their own wine and pay a corkage fee determined by the restaurant. It's a policy some other provinces have had in place for some time now, with varying degrees of success/popularity. Be warned -- not all restos will adopt the policy, so call ahead to find out whether it's worth rooting through your cellar for that special bottle of wine to go with your dinner out.
Coolers and ciders will be made available to selected beer vendors. This won't happen until late 2012; the MLCC will work with the Manitoba Hotel Association to determine which vendors will be able to carry coolers and ciders. Private wine stores have long carried cider and wine-based coolers, but it doesn't appear as if other coolers are in the cards for them.
Up to 10 Manitoba Liquor Mart express-style boutiques will be opening in the province, and will showcase products made in Manitoba/Canada. The new James A. Richardson Airport will house one of them (I'm guessing it'll be after the security checkpoint so travellers can carry the boozy liquids on to the plane), and up to five other kiosks will be located in grocery stores. I've heard the South Osborne Safeway might be a prime candidate for such a kiosk, as there really isn't anywhere nearby to buy alcohol. These kiosks will be staffed by MLCC employees.
Dealcoholized wine and beer are now on Manitoba Liquor Mart shelves, as are some accessories and magazines. Private wine stores have long carried dealcoholized wine, wine mags and accessories (glasses, corkscrews, etc.).
Expect more brewpubs to pop up around the city/province, as they'll now be able to sell products for customers to purchase on-site.
Licensed premises can now stay open until 2 a.m. every day of the week (except Easter Sunday), and beer vendors will be able to remain open until 2:30 a.m.
For all the changes in what the MLCC is calling "Manitoba's New Hospitality Strategy," click here.
So what do people think? Are these changes a step in the right direction? I'd love to hear what you think. Also, restaurants offering the BYO wine option should get in touch, as I'd love to talk to some restauranteurs about the program as it gets off the ground.