Diners in Alberta may soon be able to bring along their own vintage Scotch or craft beer when they head out for dinner.
The province is among several across Canada that permit restaurants to allow diners to bring their own wine. Under the policy, which has been in place in Alberta for nearly 20 years, restaurants often charge corkage fees for the privilege, which can run to $20 or more.
The provincial government recently changed its liquor regulations to expand the bring-your-own rule to cover all alcohol, including spirits and beer.
The United Conservative Party government’s election platform last year included several promises to liberalize the province’s liquor laws, such as allowing people to drink in municipal parks.
Grant Hunter, the province’s Minister of Red Tape Reduction, said expanding the bring-your-own-wine rule to include all liquor is part of an effort to stop the “war on fun.”
“We said, ‘Why is it just wine? Why isn’t it rum? Why isn’t it gin?' ” Mr. Hunter said in an interview. “If restaurants are in favour, then why not open up for all the other types of alcohol?”
Any restaurant that opts in would be required to follow similar rules already in place for wine. Servers would handle opening the alcohol and, if needed, mixing drinks.
Mr. Hunter said he believes it’s something that restaurants already offering bring-your-own-wine will jump on.
Mark von Schellwitz, the Western Canada vice-president for Restaurants Canada, said he knew the government was planning the change, but it wasn’t a proposal from his industry organization. He said he’s not aware of any other province that allows diners to bring in any type of alcohol.
Mr. von Schellwitz said the group is in favour of anything that gives restaurants more options, as long as they can continue to charge corkage fees to provide the same markup they would make on selling their own liquor.
“It’s not a huge percentage [of diners] who actually take advantage of that unless they have a really special product, and I’m sure the same would probably apply with the spirits or even beer,” he said.
“For some restaurants, they may not want to carry a big inventory, and they may want to say, “Bring your own wine or bring your own spirits or alcohol. Here’s the corkage fee.‘ ”
Carmelo Rago, president of Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group, which runs the Sorrentino’s chain of Italian eateries in Edmonton, as well as several other restaurants in the city, said he hadn’t heard of the change. The company’s restaurants offer bring-your-own-wine with free corkage on some days of the week.
Mr. Rago said in an e-mail that he’s not interested in expanding that to spirits or beer. “It may be something to consider in the future,” he wrote.
Soon after taking office last year, the government allowed alcohol in provincial parks for the May long weekend, reversing a previous ban. It also allowed alcohol in provincial park picnic areas.
And the province has relaxed alcohol permit rules for festivals, concerts and other events.
On the local level, the province changed regulations to allow municipalities to permit alcohol consumption in their parks. Cities such as Calgary have long considered moving forward with such a change, but progress has been slow.
Calgary had planned a pilot project last year, but it was put on hold.
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