Boozy bites: Va. bill creates confectionery license for alcohol-infused goodies

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — We are always hearing about wineries and breweries booming in Virginia.

But there’s an offshoot sector that’s been stunted — until now.

New legislation will make it easier to eat, not just drink, your favorite adult beverages.

Rachel Bolling has been making and selling cupcakes for about two years through her business Lush Cupcakes.

Her not so secret ingredient? Alcohol.

“We are taking the alcohols, we are infusing the flavor into the cupcakes and it enhances it even more,” she said.

Her ‘Godiva Hennessy’ dessert starts with a Godiva Chocolate Liqueur cake and is topped with a Hennessy-infused vanilla buttercream and salted caramel drizzle.

The ‘Old Fashioned’ cupcake includes Reservoir Whiskey, bitters buttercream and a traditional maraschino cherry on top.

But when she launched Lush Cupcakes out of her Mechanicsville home, she realized Virginia law and Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) rules didn’t match, making it difficult for businesses to get off the ground.

ABC code regulated all consumable products containing any more than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) if sold within the Commonwealth. The only way, under previous law, to serve these products would be under a mixed beverage license or similar license.

Bolling teamed up with her husband, lawmakers and ABC to try and streamline the process.

It inspired two bills — HB1602, which Del. Chris Peace (R-Hanover) introduced, and SB61, which Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) carried.

They both passed.

The legislation creates a confectionery license so people can whip up and sell their boozy bites, following certain guidelines. It also makes the max ABV for such businesses 5 percent, rather than the current 0.5 percent.

Bolling said it’s a growing industry.

“There’s a wonderful person out in Chesapeake that we were supporting for her pudding business. We have somebody here local in Richmond who has this amazing family wine jelly recipe that she wants to do,” said Bolling. “We had a couple other people involved with barbecue sauces and other cupcake businesses as well.”

The license will help the state track who is making what. It will also require testing to make sure they’re staying under the 5 percent ABV limit. All while giving these creative chefs and bakers a bigger bite out of the booming booze business.

“It really is going to open the door for these people who have these fun, unique products that they want to be able to share with people,” said Bolling.

Bolling has already teamed up with Richmond breweries and cideries to create custom-infused cupcakes. She recently worked with Isley Brewing Company and Buskey Cider.

She hopes to continue collaborating with other local businesses.

The legislation goes into effect July 1.

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