Welcome back to Margaritaville: Singer Jimmy Buffett's childhood home on Thursday backed off a short-lived ban on the sale of pitchers of the drink he made famous.
The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board announced an end to the pitcher prohibition a day after al.com published a column criticizing the moratorium. The irresistible mix of Buffett, Alabama's perceived prudishness and tequila helped the topic quickly gain traction on social media.
The agency denied changing its mind because of publicity. The reversal had already been under consideration, said spokesman Dean Argo.
Margaritas — both the frozen and on-the-rocks version — are particularly popular in Mexican restaurants. But some stopped selling them in June on orders from the state agency, which determined that only beer could be served by the pitcher and had inspectors check for violations.
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The brief ban was based on an old rule that makes it illegal to "adulterate" alcohol, Argo said. The state determined pitchers of Margaritas were illegal since each glass from a pitcher could have a different amount of alcohol.
Beer pitchers are a different matter, Argo said. "The alcohol content does not fluctuate or sink while sitting on a counter," he said.
Argo said ABC officials decided to change their view of the code section that led to the ban after discussing the issue with the Alabama Beverage Licensees Association. The law mentions pitcher sales of drinks that are "customarily" sold that way, he said.
"The menus of many restaurants and bars in Alabama already offer several beverages by pitcher," Argo said in an interview conducted by email. "This updated interpretation should give licensees the flexibility they need to meet the needs of their customers, while maintaining the integrity of the original rule."
Born on the Mississippi coast, Buffett spent his childhood in Mobile, Alabama. He helped popularized Margaritas with his 1977 hit "Margaritaville."