You might notice, however, that those examples are maddeningly vague, almost to the point where they say nothing at all. That's the way the new state law was crafted, according to ABC Public Relations Specialist Carol Mawyer. An establishment can say they have "happy hour" or "drink specials" and the times they are offered, Mawyer says, "but they can't say 'margarita specials from 4 to 7' or 'two-for-one sangria specials', and they can't say the prices," Mawyer explains.
It's still pretty useless as far as consumer choice goes. We all assume that most bars will have a happy hour, even if it's $1 off a draft instead of two-for-one margaritas. When you're in an area as bar-heavy as Arlington, Alexandria or Falls Church, if would be nice to know what you're getting into before you walk through the doors: If, for example, one bar on Wilson Boulevard sells craft beers for $3 while another offers domestic bottles for the same price. But hey, at least it gets rid of the wink-wink advertising Virginia bars have resorted to in the past, such as saying they had "25-cent wings and other specials from 4 to 7 p.m."
Now, with the ban on happy hour advertising over, maybe Virginia can get around to killing some of my other "favorite" rules, including:
- All happy hours must end by 9 p.m., and no specials can be offered after that. They can, however, begin again at 6 a.m.
- Mixed drinks, including margaritas, cannot be served by the pitcher.
- Open bars with unlimited drinks are not allowed under any circumstances. That's why New Year's Eve parties at Clarendon Ballroom or Clarendon Grill include a couple of drink tickets with the admission fee instead of access to an open bar, as many bars in Washington and Maryland do.
Another inclusion in the new ABC rules: As of Feb. 26, Virginia mixologists will finally be allowed to legally infuse spirits with "fruits, herbs, seasonings, vegetables, etc." to create their own flavored vodkas, gins and other liqueurs.