MONEY Food & Drink

Amazon Starts Delivering Booze On Demand

The company might be experimenting with take-out food, too.

On-demand booze. It’s hard to imagine a more important delivery, and now you can order it online from Amazon. If you’re a Prime Now subscriber (read: if you pay $99 a year), you can get your favorite red wine delivered to your door in one or two hours. If you live in Amazon’s home base of Seattle, that is. Amazon is also considering jumping into the food delivery business, joining the likes of GrubHub. Food delivery requires a lot of logistics, but let’s face it: if there’s any company that can handle logistics, it’s Amazon.

TIME Companies

Amazon’s Newest Feature Is Great If You Need a Drink Right Now

Amazon Prime Summer Soiree Hosted By Erin And Sara Foster
Rachel Murray—Getty Images A general view of atmosphere during the Amazon Prime Summer Soiree hosted by Erin Foster and Sara Foster at Sunset Towers on July 16, 2015 in West Hollywood, California.

Well, an hour from now

Running out of beer or wine for that barbecue you are hosting? If you are in Seattle, and are a member of Amazon.com’s Prime program, you are in luck.

Starting Tuesday, Prime members in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle can get one- and two-hour delivery of beer, wine and hard liquor like whiskey, rum, and vodka with the launch of Prime Now there, making Seattle the first U.S. city to include alcohol in the assortment of products eligible for the quick-delivery service.

Prime Now, which operates via a stand-alone app on iOS and Android devices, already operates in a number of major U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, and New York, where it launched last year.

The program is available to member of the $99 a year Prime membership but offers a more limited assortment than Prime. Still, eligible products can be delivered within two hours at no charge, and in one hour for $7.99. The selection tends to be focused on last-minute needs such as party supplies, cleaning products, electronics and some food.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME space travel

A Japanese Drinks Company Just Sent Some Whiskey to the International Space Station

But the astronauts won't get to drink a drop

A Japanese resupply spacecraft successfully docked to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, and on board there was some unusual cargo.

Included in the 10,000 lb. of supplies were five whiskey samples sent into orbit by Japanese alcoholic-drinks conglomerate Suntory, reports the Associated Press.

But astronauts on board the ISS won’t be able to drink a drop of the liquor, which was sent as part of an experiment to see whether spirits mellow at the same pace in microgravity as they do on earth.

The research is being conducted in the Japanese Experiment Module on the ISS and researchers at Suntory hope the experiments will help find a scientific explanation for the “mechanism that makes alcohol mellow.”

An identical set of samples is being stored in Japan and after a year or so the samples in orbit will return to earth to be compared, analyzed and tasted.

The whiskey experiment isn’t the first drinks-related study to take place on the ISS. Already on board are specially designed coffee cups that have revolutionized how astronauts drink in space and could help scientists build better and safer advanced fluid systems.

And on earth a company called Cosmic Lifestyle Corp. has even invented a zero-gravity-friendly martini glass.

TIME Cancer

The Connection Between Light Drinking and Cancer: Study

healthiest foods, health food, diet, nutrition, time.com stock, red wine, alcohol
Danny Kim for TIME

The latest study shows how much alcohol is linked to a higher risk of developing certain cancers

Researchers say that indulging in as little as one drink a day for women and two drinks daily for men can boost the risk of breast, colon, oral, liver and esophageal cancers. But the risk was higher for men who smoked, even those who had quit, than for non smokers.

Scientists at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital report in the BMJ on a review of nearly 136,000 men and women enrolled in studies that followed their health-related behaviors and outcomes for 30 years. Overall, those who drank more showed a higher risk of alcohol-related cancers, which wasn’t surprising, given that over-indulging can promote abnormal growths in certain organs like the liver.

MORE: 5 Things You Need to Know About Alcohol, Backed By Research

But what was more surprising was that, according to their observations, it didn’t take much. Previous studies have focused on heavy drinking, while the current analysis looked at light to moderate drinking. Among women, up to one drink a day contributed to a 13% higher risk of developing alcohol-related cancers, primarily breast cancer. For men, up to two drinks a day also increased the risk of certain cancers, but only for those who had smoked. Non smoking men didn’t show any higher risk.

The results suggest that smoking may be an important contributor to certain cancers, especially in combination with alcohol. In fact, says Yin Cao, a post doctoral research fellow at the School of Public Health and lead author of the study, it’s enough to consider becoming even stricter when it comes to imbibing. “For men, especially those who ever smoked, they should limit alcohol to even below the recommended limit,” she says. “And smoking and heavy alcohol consumption should be absolutely avoided to prevent cancer.”

 

 

TIME Food & Drink

Wheaties Beer Is Now a Thing

Box of Wheaties cereal and the limited-edition HefeWheaties beer.
General Mills via AP Box of Wheaties cereal and the limited-edition HefeWheaties beer.

You can now have Wheaties all day long

Wheaties, the breakfast cereal of champions, has teamed up with a nearby craft brewery in Minneapolis to create a limited-edition Hefeweizen beer, appropriately called HefeWheaties.

Fear not, there’s not actually any Wheaties in the beer. The connection is the wheat, which is a trademark of Hefeweizen brews. The south German-style of wheat beer is typically brewed with over 50% malted wheat.

HefeWheaties is the first of this style brewed by Fulton, the craft beer partner. The idea sprung from a shared sense of place: Minneapolis. That, and the management team at Fulton has close ties to General Mills, which owns Wheaties.

Ryan Petz, the president and co-founder of Fulton, initially worked for General Mills after business school, as did Fulton’s direct or operations.

The beer is only a limited-time offering, and it’s only available within Minnesota state lines. But, if you’re in the area after Aug. 26, you can pick up a 4-pack of tallboys at the Twin Cities market or stop by the Fulton taproom in Minneapolis to give it a try.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Lobbying

Alcohol Distributors Ply Statehouses to Keep Profits Flowing

rhinegeist
Rhinegeist Brewery

Rhinegeist Brewery invested $250,000 in trucks and employees to bring its beers into Kentucky, just a few miles from its fledgling brewery in downtown Cincinnati.

Sales boomed in the “thirsty” Kentucky market, said brewery co-founder Bryant Goulding.

But in March, just three months after the deliveries began, the legislature there voted to make Rhinegeist’s distribution business illegal.

“We were crestfallen, heartbroken, disappointed, really frustrated by the political process,” Goulding said. “We felt like we really didn’t have genuine access or really didn’t get genuine consideration from a lot of the politicians.”

Rhinegeist had run into a little-known but powerful political force at play in nearly every state: alcohol distributors. They don’t brew the beer, and they don’t serve it. But as wholesalers who function as the legally mandated middlemen between alcohol makers and retailers, they have a wide-ranging influence on the booze Americans drink, marking up prices and controlling the growth of craft brewers and small wineries.

Alcohol distribution is a $135 billion industry in the U.S. that has made many rich, including Cindy McCain, head of her family’s beer distributing company and wife of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. To protect the post-Prohibition regulations that guarantee their business, wholesalers bankroll scores of lobbyists and give millions of dollars in contributions in election seasons. And because wholesalers are often local, family-run, American-owned businesses, they are popular with politicians.

“The beer wholesalers are a lot like the teachers unions,” said John Conlin, a Colorado management consultant who works with beverage companies. “The teachers unions have incredible clout, too, and the reason is there are teachers in every congressional district out there… And historically that was the same with beer wholesalers.”

But recently two economic forces have encroached on wholesalers’ power and territory, putting them on defense: big multinational brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, which boasts $47 billion in annual revenue; and the burgeoning craft beer industry that wants more freedom to distribute its own beer, offer tastings in new places or sell to-go containers called growlers.

At least 22 states had bills in 2015 seeking to allow alcohol makers to circumvent distributors and sell their products directly to customers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

They faced firm opposition this year because state alcohol wholesaler alliances had at least 315 registered lobbyists spread across every state and the District of Columbia, except Wyoming, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of state records.

And alcohol distributors are by far the most involved in state politics out of those in the booze business. They gave roughly $14.6 million to state candidates, parties and ballot issue groups in the 2014 elections, while alcohol manufacturers gave about $5.3 million and retailers gave roughly $2 million, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

They are politically active on the federal level, too, but because alcohol is largely regulated at the state and local level, wholesalers aim most of their political firepower at statehouses. Their giving in 2014 state races was more than double the approximately $5.9 million that they gave for congressional contests.

“As local businesses representing Main Street America, beer distributors take pride in participating in the political process and support a wide range of candidates,” the National Beer Wholesalers Association’s spokeswoman Kathleen Joyce said in an email.

Using that political firepower, wholesalers defended their economic turf this year in several states, including Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina, by advocating for the exclusive right to distribute alcohol. And now wholesalers are also trying to expand their turf by going after the legal recreational marijuana market proposed in Nevada.

This winter, 38 lobbyists roamed the halls of the Kentucky State Capitol, employed by one side or the other of the beer debate. The alcohol bill they were discussing, lawmakers joked, was the Lobbyist Full Employment Act of 2015.

“You couldn’t walk the halls without a lobbyist from one side or the other wanting to be in your ear,” said Sen. Jimmy Higdon, a Republican from Lebanon in central Kentucky.

Wholesalers were pushing a bill that prevented brewers from owning a license to distribute beer — a move to close a long-overlooked gap in Kentucky’s regulatory system and effectively force Anheuser-Busch InBev to auction off its two distributorships in Kentucky.

Rhinegeist, with its newly opened distribution business, was also hit.

“We were just kind of a gnat caught between these two Mack trucks colliding,” Goulding said.

Anheuser-Busch InBev owned a distributorship in Louisville for decades. In 2014, it bought another one in Owensboro, a move that set off alarm bells among wholesalers who worried the beer giant would corner the market as part of a reported campaign to buy more distributorships.

Wineries, breweries and distilleries are generally required by state laws to hire separate distributors to get their drinks to customers, with exceptions that vary by state. States made these rules after Prohibition: some acting to avoid returning to the days of saloons controlled by major alcohol producers that pushed drunkenness; some to decentralize the industry and its political power; and others motivated by former bootleggers with political ties who wanted to stay in business as state-mandated wholesalers.

Today, distributors are in a power position. They can stifle the growth of craft breweries or small wineries by refusing to distribute their products. Or they can foster them by helping them reach customers they couldn’t efficiently reach on their own. Having separate distributors can also push up the price of alcohol.

Some public health advocates credit the layers of regulation that come from this middleman-style system for helping prevent cheap or dangerous libations from creeping into the market in a country where alcohol is already the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death.

Yet Daniel Okrent, author of “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,” called the public health arguments sanctimonious and said there’s no evidence that wholesalers protect public health. “They are essentially protecting what is in effect a quasi-monopoly business,” he said. “They are very powerful political lobbies with a great deal of money.”

In Kentucky, wholesalers turned to the legislature to bar Anheuser-Busch InBev from having a piece of their market, just as wholesalers have successfully done in eight other states since 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Two Kentucky distributorships in particular, Chas. Seligman Distributing Company and Kentucky Eagle Inc., led the charge against Anheuser-Busch. Their executives and employees have given at least $213,000 to state and local elections since 2000, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of state records. Kentucky Eagle’s owner Ann Bakhaus gave more than $124,000 of that, including $13,300 last year. She said she had her business in mind when she did so.

“Our business is highly regulated,” she said. “There’s a whole lot of parts and pieces to it, and so I’m always trying to watch out for our business and for our state, too.”

During the 2014 elections alone, the Kentucky Beer Wholesalers Association gave more than $14,000 to Kentucky lawmakers. Comparatively, Anheuser-Busch has given little — just one $500 donation in 2008, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Neither alcohol group responded to multiple requests for comment.

Both sides lobbied hard. And both sides took to the airwaves. Wholesalers spent $151,000 on Facebook, newspaper, TV and radio ads, state records show. Anheuser-Busch, while outspent in political contributions, tried to make up for it with nearly $330,000 in advertising.

“Greedy special interests are trying to run Anheuser-Busch out of the state, seeking for them to close a business they’ve owned for nearly 40 years,” said a TV ad from the beer company.

In the end, though, it wasn’t even close. The wholesalers’ bill passed the Senate 23-13 and the House 67-31. The world’s largest brewer and Rhinegeist lost. Anheuser-Busch InBev said Tuesday it plans to shed its Kentucky distributorships. Rhinegeist has already dismantled its distribution business there.

Rep. Adam Koenig, a Republican from Erlanger, fears the law will have a broader chilling effect.

“After seeing Rhinegeist basically have the rug pulled out from under them, and a company that’s been operating legally with no complaints for 30 years be forced to divest, it makes you think twice about opening a business in Kentucky,” he said.

Limiting the craft brewers

This spring, North Carolina state Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Republican from Hendersonville, sent his colleagues a draft of a bill he planned to introduce. The bill would have helped local craft breweries by allowing them to distribute more of their own beer. Not long after, two of the co-sponsors called and asked him to remove their names.

“Those legislators told me the beer and wine wholesalers in their area had already called and they were big contributors to the campaign,” McGrady said. “They still supported the bill, but they didn’t want to be on it. It was really rather striking.”

Craft brewing had taken off in North Carolina, as it has in the rest of the country. The number of craft breweries in the U.S. more than doubled from 2008 to 2014, reaching 3,418, according to the Brewers Association, a national craft brewers group based in Boulder, Colo. And they’re getting more organized — the U.S. now has local craft brewers associations in every state.

In North Carolina this year, craft brewers saw an opportunity to improve state laws to allow them to grow. Currently, brewers in North Carolina can distribute 25,000 barrels of their own beer. If they want to grow larger, they must hire a distributor for all of their beer, a move some breweries are loath to make.

McGrady’s bill would have given brewers slightly more wiggle room by not counting beer sold at taverns (usually only a few thousand barrels) toward the 25,000-barrel limit.

But North Carolina Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association Executive Director Tim Kent said his members didn’t want to cede any ground and opposed McGrady’s bill and a similar one.

“North Carolina already has by far the most progressive beer laws of any state from Virginia to Texas,” he said. “You’ve got a small group of brewers who are trying to deregulate the industry…at the expense of public health.”

Alcohol wholesalers in North Carolina have given more than $740,000 to state lawmakers since 1996, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics. They had seven registered lobbyists working this spring. On the other side, the craft brewers together had four registered lobbyists but had given comparatively little to political candidates.

“We’re putting a lot of money into growing our business and making sure we’re getting new equipment and hiring people and stuff like that,” said Erik Lars Myers, the president of North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and the founder of Mystery Brewing Company in Hillsborough. “That means that we don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on lobbying. They have a significant financial advantage over us.”

Both bills stalled when a committee co-chairman, Rep. James Boles, wouldn’t let them be heard, brewers said.

Boles, a Republican from Moore County, received more than $17,000 from alcohol wholesalers for his unopposed 2014 re-election, including $5,000 from the North Carolina Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association PAC. Aside from the money he gave his own campaign, the association is Boles’ second most generous donor over the course of his six-year career in the statehouse, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. He did not respond to requests for comment.

The bills’ failures mean that at least four craft breweries in the state won’t expand, hire more people or make more of their specialized local beer, Myers said.

“There’s going to be a lot of people who want beer who won’t be able to get it,” he said.

Settling for compromise

A similar story played out in Georgia this spring, when brewers put forward a bill that would have allowed breweries to sell a limited amount of beer directly to customers who visited. What they wound up with instead was the ability to offer free beer to patrons who pay for a tour.

“We don’t sell you beer, but we take your money and you leave with beer,” said Nick Purdy, president of Wild Heaven Craft Beers just outside of Atlanta. “It’s a bit of a theater of the absurd.”

Georgia Craft Brewers Guild Executive Director Nancy Palmer said it was the guild’s first time going up against the longstanding relationships the wholesalers have built, in some cases over generations.

“The wholesalers are astute politicians,” she said. “If I were in their position, I would be doing exactly what they do. The depth and breadth of their influence is certainly formidable.”

Alcohol distributors in Georgia have given nearly $1.2 million in contributions to state lawmakers since 1992, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics. They also invite lawmakers to an annual, paid conference at a seaside resort. The state distributor association did not return requests for comment.

The man credited with reworking the bill to allow only paid tours and free beer, Sen. Rick Jeffares, has received $6,900 from wholesalers since 2010, including $4,750 out of the $81,000 he raised for his unopposed re-election bid in 2014. The Republican from McDonough, south of Atlanta, did not respond to requests for comment.

Still, for the brewers it wasn’t a total loss. Palmer said they were pleased to get at least the compromise that allows them to sell tours.

Finding new territory

Wholesalers are now flexing political muscle not just to protect their current businesses, but to enter a new market: marijuana distribution.

Alcohol salesmen often see pot as a competitor vying for consumers’ dollars. And liquor industry advocates have bristled at pot activists’ assertions that marijuana is safer than alcohol.

But wholesalers in Nevada gave a combined $87,500 to a 2016 ballot measure campaign to legalize recreational marijuana there — about 13 percent of the amount raised through December, according to the most recent report available. The ballot initiative, if passed, would mandate that for the first 18 months of legal weed, only licensed alcohol distributors could distribute the drug, giving the alcohol wholesalers a head start in the pot distribution business.

Backers of the initiative consulted with alcohol distributors when they wrote the measure to avoid a fight. The 18-month window allows experienced distributors to help get the industry off the ground, according to campaign spokesman Joe Brezny.

“Experience matters,” he said.

For those without political connections, access to new markets is proving more difficult. Back in Cincinnati, Rhinegeist Brewery gave up finding new turf on its own. Instead, it’s re-entering Kentucky through a wholesaler. It’s a move co-founder Goulding thinks will work out well for sales, but he’s still disappointed.

“It seems really strange that government can come and, something that was legal a few months ago, just take it away,” he said.

This story is from The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative media organization in Washington, D.C. Read more of its investigations on the influence of money in politics or follow it on Twitter.

TIME Food & Drink

Celebrate National Tequila Day With These 7 Cocktail Recipes

pepinos-revenge
Antonis Achilleos Pepino's Revenge

From juleps to margaritas

Tequila lovers, rejoice! Today is National Tequila Day and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a deliciously bright, boozy and refreshing beverage. Here are seven super summery tequila cocktails perfect for National Tequila Day:

1. Mint and Lime Tequila Refresher
Here’s a great way to use mint when it’s at its peak. It’s a simple mix of mint, lime juice, sugar, tequila and club soda.

2. Paloma Italiana
This variation on the Paloma is made with tequila and grapefruit soda.

3. Hibiscus-Tequila Cocktails
When Jacques Pépin was new to Playa del Carmen, local friends taught him how to turn the dried hibiscus flowers from the market into a tart and aromatic tea that’s popular in the Yucatán. To make a refreshing cocktail, he mixes the bright red tea with tequila, lime juice, jarabe (bottled sugar syrup) and a splash of hot sauce.

4. Cortez Julep
Use a bold tequila (such as 7 Leguas Blanco) for this nutty sherry-accented drink.

5. Watermelon-Tequila Cocktails
When watermelon is in abundance, this is a great way to use it. Bobby Flay purees seedless watermelon chunks, then strains the juice through a sieve and mixes it with silver tequila, sugar syrup, blueberries, mint and fresh lime juice.

6. Pepino’s Revenge
This refreshing drink boasts two super summery ingredients: cucumber and basil.

7. Mango Margarita
At the Casa Noble estate, bartender David Yan created this margarita to showcase the property’s own tequila. He coats the rim of the glass with citrusy Tajin-brand chile powder, but any powdered chile will give the drink a fun kick.

This article originally appeared on Food & Wine

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TIME food and drink

This Alcoholic Root Beer Might Be Your New Favorite Summer Drink

not your fathers root beer
Small Town Brewery

Classic root beer taste, with a bit of a buzz

While Homer Simpson and the citizens of Springfield (and soon, Simpsons fans far outside the fictional town) may prefer to drink Duff Beer, there’s a new kind of beer sweeping the rest of the nation: boozy root beer.

The drink is exactly what it sounds like—classic root beer flavor with an alcoholic twist. While a DIY version of the concoction can be found in bars across the country, Not Your Father’s Root Beer, from Small Town Brewery in Wauconda, Ill. is leading the charge on the retail front. According to Bloomberg, their success is due in part to their purchase by a group of investors that included the Chief Executive Officer of Pabst Brewery and a subsequent distribution deal, but also to their magic formula of creating a new product with a familiar taste. They are clearly on to something, too, because the still hard-to-find product has a FaceBook fan page and Twitter is filled with people looking for places to purchase, boasting about drinking it and offering sampling parties.

The root beer features a familiar blend of sassafras bark, vanilla, anise, wintergreen, and handfuls of additional spices that give it the nostalgic flavor, but with enough alcohol (5.9%) to give you a good buzz.

TIME Food & Drink

Here Are the Four Types of Drunks, According to Science

Ernest Miller Hemingway mary poppins
Getty Images, Walt Disney Undated file photo of writer, journalist and American war correspondent, Ernest Hemingway. Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins in the 1964 film.

Are you a Mary Poppins or a Hemingway?

You know when you’re out with your friends at a bar, and you’ve all had the same amount to drink, yet one friend is giggling uncontrollably, another is telling a hilarious story to a group of strangers, a third is picking a fight with the bouncer, and the last is talking to the bartender as if those four Jägerbombs never happened? You might have wondered, well, what’s up with that?

Science to the rescue. Psychology researchers from the University of Missouri at Columbia have published a study in Addiction Research & Theory attempting to bring the conventional wisdom that there are many distinct ways to be drunk to its logical, scientifically-based conclusion. Their study, which involved 374 undergraduates at a large Midwestern university, drew from literature and pop culture in order to conclude that there are four types of drinkers: the Mary Poppins, the Ernest Hemingway, the Nutty Professor and the Mr. Hyde.

The first and largest group — about 40% — was the Ernest Hemingways. Named for the writer who famously boasted that he could “drink hells any amount of whiskey without getting drunk,” Hemingways do not exhibit any major changes in personality when they transition from sober to drunk, the study contends.

In contrast, Mary Poppins drinkers follow the “practically perfect in every way” description Poppins bestows on herself in the 1964 movie: they are already outgoing types who somehow get sweeter and happier with alcohol.

After that come the Nutty Professors, named for the chemically-altered academic with a second personality immortalized by Eddie Murphy. They, the study says, are natural introverts who shed their inhibitions with special vigor when they drink, showing a flashier and more social side.

And, lastly, there are the Mr. Hydes: the evil-twin drinkers who are, according to the study, “particularly less responsible, less intellectual, and more hostile when under the influence of alcohol.”

The study authors hope to use these categories to tailor future alcoholism interventions to particular personality types. Meanwhile, you can use them to take bets on how many beers in your Nutty Professor friend will have had enough to start flirting with that brunette by the jukebox.

Read more about the study here.

Read next: These States Still Ban Happy Hour

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TIME States

Happy Hour Is Legal Again in Illinois

A ban is overturned after more than 25 years

Happy hour is coming back to Illinois.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill Wednesday that nullified a ban on happy hour drink specials in the state, which had been in effect since 1989. The ban was meant to combat alcohol-related car accidents.

If you live in Illinois, you haven’t been able to grab a drink after work with buddies to blow off steam and snap up cheaper “happy hour” deals for more than 25 years. But discounts will now be allowed for up to four hours a day and up to 15 hours a week, so long as specials end before 10 p.m. “Volume” drink specials, like getting two for the price of one, will remain banned.

Reactions were mixed: While customers were jubilant, business owners opposed the bill. Some activists fear happy hour drink specials will lead to more alcohol related accidents.

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