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Alcoholic Beverages Prices at Bars and Restaurants Could Rise

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A hangover from battles among two giant national distributors, Costco and its allies, and the state Liquor Control Board could result in booze prices at bars and restaurants going up this year.

This possible price hike stems from the Liquor Control Board deciding in November that discounted volume sales of booze from distributors to bars and restaurants wasn’t OK under the new law. The issue was brought to the board by former state contract stores, which weren’t getting the discount prices restaurants were enjoying. The board, however, left a window for a legislative fix, recognizing that the so-called channel pricing works for distributors and restaurants.

But so far this legislative session no action has been taken despite opposition to the proposed rule by bars and restaurants. If nothing happens, the board will move forward with its rulemaking, and drinks in bars and restaurants could see a price hike later this year — as much as 15 percent, according to distributors.

For their part, the Liquor Control Board doesn’t expect a price hike.

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