Mimosas and bloody marys will soon be gracing the tables at Frederick County restaurants a little earlier in the day for Sunday brunch.
A new law set to take effect July 1 will allow liquor license holders to sell alcohol at 10 a.m. instead of 11 a.m. on Sundays.
“It’s going to be amazing," Cafe Nola general manager Bryan Nuckols said. "I wish that they would move it back to 9, but we’ll take 10. ... It’s going to be a positive thing.”
He said he’s had some customers come in upset that they couldn’t get a mimosa or bloody mary with brunch. Apart from being able to serve cocktails a little earlier, Nuckols didn’t expect anyone would notice much difference at the restaurant.
Nuckols had advocated for the change to the Frederick County liquor board in August. The liquor board doesn’t make legislation but does informally lobby lawmakers in Annapolis. Frederick County's liquor laws are written at the state level.
Liquor board chairman Rick Stup said that the most important of the new laws ready to be rolled out had to do with how the state defines a restaurant.
To be considered a restaurant and be eligible for a restaurant class liquor license, an establishment must earn half of its average daily revenue from food as opposed to drinks. Starting Saturday, that threshold will be reduced to 40 percent.
If a place made most of its money from alcoholic drinks, it would be classified as a tavern under state law and require a tavern license, a class not available in Frederick County.
The owner of the Emmitsburg restaurant Ott House, Susan Glass, had told the commissioners at a public meeting that it was hard to comply with the law because she tries to keep her food prices low, but a craft beer can sell for $8. She said the change was a "win for all."
"It was becoming difficult for some people to make that ratio," she said. "It's not so much that you're drinking more, it's that the pricing has gotten so different."
Stup said that lowering the requirement will help restaurant license holders successfully comply with the rules of their license.
The change takes into account that the county has changed since the laws were written, he added.
“That law has been on the books since Prohibition ended in 1933,” he said.
Other new laws to take effect July 1 include:
- There will be a new class of license, the barbershop beer and wine license, that will allow barbershops to offer no more than 5 ounces of beer or wine to customers.
- License holders will be able to sell growlers, refillable containers for draft beer.
- The definition of cider will be changed to a beer product made of apples or pears that contains between 0.5 percent and 8.5 percent alcohol.
- The law will clarify that “liquor” and “distilled spirits” are interchangeable terms.
- Beer and wine license holders will not be able to sell beverages that contain more than 22 percent alcohol by volume.