After take-out and delivery orders increased tenfold, some restaurants have seized the opportunity to add alcohol to their list of offerings. But in some cases, it's not as simple as adding text to the menu. Alcohol sales have to be allowed by law. That was not the case for St-Hubert, which this week began selling gin and tonic illegally.

On Thursday, May 28, the restaurant chain announced that it was adding the ready-to-drink beverage to its take-out and delivery menus.

Sold in cans and produced in Montreal, the Romeo's Gin cocktail had been available to customers since the beginning of the week.

However, it turns out that the chain was not entitled to sell this drink since it is classified as a spirit.

According to the Liquor Licensing Act, restaurants are authorized to sell "alcoholic beverages accompanied by a meal" for "take-out and delivery" with the exception of "beer on tap, liquor, and spirits."

Beer in a container and wine are therefore the only drinks that can be sold under these terms.

La Presse reports that St-Hubert did not know that the cocktail "was not part of the permitted categories" of alcohol.

St-Hubert Director of Communications Josée Vaillancourt confirmed to MTL Blog that the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ), which regulates the sale of alcohol in Quebec, asked St-Hubert to stop selling the beverage.

"For the moment, Romeo's gin and tonic is not available for delivery and take away," she explained.

"The delivery of alcoholic beverages with a meal is currently limited to wine and beer and for the moment this cocktail does not fall within the permitted categories."

"We were so excited to offer this new Quebec product!"

She does say, though, that customers will be able to purchase the gin and tonic as soon as restaurant dining rooms reopen.

Nicolas Duvernois, director of Duvernois Esprits Créatifs, the company that produces the cocktail, criticized the RACJ's ruling on Facebook.

"This experience is a unique opportunity to change some of the regulations and laws regarding spirits that simply haven't changed," he wrote.

"To be able to allow the 20 or so ready-to-drink spirits from Quebec to be available at the delivery of a meal (such as wine or beer) would be a micro-change to the law, but a huge step forward for local distilleries," he said.

If you can't drink a little gin and tonic with your roast chicken, you can still order wine with your meal.

St-Hubert has added two products from the Quebec company Vignoble de l'Orpailleur to its menu and these are still permitted by law.


This article was originally published in French on Narcity Québec.

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