You won’t believe what the Brits want to do
One of my favorite love-to-hate-them groups is the neopros (not to be confused with the neocons, although there may be some overlap). These are the neoprohibitionist types who are always looking to curtail alcohol use in any way they can. They’ve been particularly loud lately, and not just in America. From the continent of Africa to Australia and China, from Europe to right here, they’re active. Some of it is worthy: to stop binge drinking and alcohol abuse and, hopefully, cut down on drunk driving. But some of their latest stuff borders on the insane.
Take, for example, this report from Catersearch.com, an online hospitality industry site. It’s about a scheme the British government’s Department of Health is proposing. They issued a draft proposal that would
- ban happy hours
- prohibit waitstaff from pouring wine by the glass without first measuring the amount (I guess this means doing away with crystal stemware and using calibrated flasks instead)
- require every restaurant table to have a “responsible drinking” sign on it (maybe French Laundry can put them in little 24 karat gold frames)
- prohibit pubs from having “free for women” promotions
I checked out the actual provisions of the draft law at Britain’s Department of Health. There’s some good stuff in there, like training store staff not to serve underage or drunk people (same as Washington State is doing). But there are also some dumb proposals, like requiring off-premise stores to display alcohol only in designated areas. No more Chardonnay stacks by the lobster section or Cabernet near the chocolates! The new law also would compel pubs and restaurants to sell wine in small as well as large glasses. This is actually being done by smart restaurants already, but it shouldn’t be a government mandate.
The Department says it’s being forced to enshrine these practices into law because “voluntary agreements are not being followed.”
Pub owners are rightly concerned. The British Beer & Pub Association’s communications director told catersearch.com the new draft code “introduces a host of detailed regulations on the way every licensed business in Britain should be managed and run on a day-to-day basis, with all the accompanying enforcement and record keeping.” And more, that it would be onerous to “the entire leisure, tourism and hospitality business in the UK – hotels, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, historic houses, tourist attractions and late night food outlets.” Just what Britain, whose economy like ours is tanking, needs.
For crying out loud, England gave us Guinness and pubs! I hope the neopros on this side of the pond don’t push this kind of nonsense, and I don’t think they’d succeed if they did. But it won’t be for lack of trying.