Sales of RTD Spirits Might Expand to C-Stores in Texas

Bills aim to allow convenience, grocery stores to sell the products if alcohol by volume doesn’t exceed 17%
Hard Rock RTDs
Photograph courtesy of Hard Rock International

Spirits currently can be sold only in liquor stores in Texas, but two bills facing opposition from beer distributors and liquors stores could change all that.

Companion bills, from State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-Fort Worth) and State Rep. Justin Holland (R-Rockwall), seek changes in Texas law where the definition of liquor would not include spirit coolers, KDFW Fox 4 in Dallas reported. Spirit coolers would include ready-made cocktails with alcohol such as brandy, gin and rum where alcohol by volume does not exceed 17%.

By law in Texas, convenience stores and grocery stores can sell beer, craft cider, seltzers, wine and malt-based RTDs, but not the increasingly popular spirit-based beverages, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). The two bills would allow stores to sell RTD beverages containing up to 17% alcohol, reversing a law in existence for 90 years limiting alcohol sales to liquor stores and establishments such as bars, hotels and restaurants.

“As industries innovate and new products become staples in the marketplace, it only makes sense for us to take a look at ways government can reduce regulatory red tape,” Hancock said in a statement to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. “I look forward to continuing to work on legislation that keeps free market principles at the core of Texas’ economic success.”

A Distilled Spirits Council survey revealed 86% of people think it should be legal for spirits coolers to be sold where other RTD beverages are available, KDFW reported.

“Beer distributors don’t like it. Neither do the package stores,” Holland told the Fort Worth Report. “We’ve had some opposition from these groups, because they’re doing their job, I guess, to try to protect their industry. But I’m not in this business to try to protect the package store or beer distributor industry. I care more about the small businesses in Texas that will benefit from this than I am protecting somebody’s structure of their industry.”

Texas restricts selling spirits to liquor stores, which are closed Sundays, NACS reported.

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