Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cocktail Challenge......

........or how the government entices us to drink more than we probably should!!!

I live in Ontario (Canada), where 99% of all alcohol sales (except "run of the mill" beer sales) are controlled by the provincial government under the governing body known as The Liquor Control Board of Ontario or the LCBO. The LCBO has a monopoly on all retail outlets that sell liquor in the form of wine, spirits and designer beers. Sales of "your common garden variety" beer is controlled by a commercial conglomerate, sanctioned by the government, which owns 99% of all the retail outlets that sell beer. These stores are aptly named "The Beer Store."

Anyone importing liquor - more than what you can carry off the plane - must import it through the LCBO and pay their surcharges. Even restaurants have to buy their wine through the LCBO and then add on their corkage charges (usually double). It makes wine with dinner out, quite pricey! For some reason the government has deemed it their "duty" to protect Canadians - in Ontario anyway - from themselves and their nasty habit of imbibing.

This is why I find their advertising somewhat hypocritical!! Given that they make huge profits with little or no competition, the LCBO is then able to produce high end glossy magazines on a regular bases - often weekly - to promote the sales of, you guessed it, liquor!! OK they usually have lots of lovely recipes in their mags and their pictures are in a social context - BBQs, friendly parties etc. but they still recommend that you drink, drink and drink some more. Nor do they limit their promotions to the lower alcohol libations of beer and wine. There are lots of colourful centrefolds of Rums, Ryes and Vodkas to get the tastes buds excited.

Wine With Dinner

Timed for our Canada Day weekend was a flyer that came with both newspapers on Saturday. It's heading was LOVE followed by a Maple Leaf and contained 45 pages of what you should be drinking this weekend, just to make sure you were being patriotic enough!! They even commissioned a celebrity cocktail "concocter" to stir up some timely creations, such as, "Strawberry Glacier" - Vodka, Strawberries and Rhubarb - blend and serve. Or Muskoka Maple Splash - Whiskey, mint, peaches and maple syrup - shake and serve. And finally one C. C. Express with another brand of Whiskey plus honey and beer (beer?) Well the more we drink, the more money in the till and really the "control" is not about how much Ontario citizens should be drinking, it's all about how much can we get them to drink and legally get away with it.

Now, I like my wine with meals as much as anyone, but I do think that having the government promote drinking to the extent that they do, is a little over the top. Then again, if it weren't them, it would be private companies and maybe the ads would be worse - damned if you do and damned if you don't.

That's my patriotic rant for the year!!

Have a great July 1- 4 and any bank holidays over the pond!!

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