The governor announced that all of Florida is expected to open by the end of May. As dubious as I may feel about continuing life as I used to know it, the show must go on and I yearn for it. What will it all look like? Will we be safe? Will this all be a dream in a year? I find we’re now speeding our way into a sea of the unknown, albeit with a cautious optimism, and we shouldn’t forget to keep an eye on the wake no matter how far behind us this virus gets.
Economic hardships occurred for many of our favorite local businesses during this outbreak and they’re going to continue to need our support if we want to see them thrive and jumpstart our economy. With this, we can’t forget the local distilleries. Whether you drink or not, it can’t be denied that these places bring a certain craftsmanship and artisan pride to our cities that we must protect. If we help save them, think of the economic potential. Especially since the world wants Florida spirits.
I closely follow our local distiller, Chainbridge Distillery. Taking the tour, enjoying the spirits and watching them hand out free hand sanitizer when the world couldn’t get it are just a few reasons why I do. I noticed on social media their call for online signatures in an effort to help The Florida Craft Distilleries be considered as essential, since technically they are pumping out FDA registered hand sanitizer at a record pace. I asked Bela Nahori, owner of Chainbridge Distillery, what we else we could do to help.
He explained that The Florida Craft Distilleries are still asking the governor to confirm that as essential service providers, Florida Craft Distillers may, under Exec Order 20-19 Section E-5, be allowed to take customer orders online and ship their spirits direct to consumers. This will afford them the ability to keep their businesses open as well as continue the supply of hand sanitizer. We can help them do this by writing to Governor DeSantis (address supplied below) asking him to allow the distilleries to be able to sell direct to consumers.
If the Florida distilleries like Chainbridge were able to sell direct to consumers they could take their current inventory that’s been sitting on shelves since the pandemic and turn it into cash. This will only help them keep the businesses running. They would still be making the hand sanitizer for first responders and local communities in an effort to help foster a safely opened Florida economy and consumers who are interested in consuming local products could safely stay at home and order online. Did I mention the state would generate additional sales and excise tax revenues that would only help Florida’s economic restart?
Writer Gina Pace contributed an article for Forbes magazine which reported the results of a new survey conducted by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the American Distilling Institute. The results showed that local distilleries in America have had to furlough more than 40 percent of their workforce, while off-premise alcohol sales are up 24 percent from March 1 to April 18 from the same period last year. For the 2,100 craft distilleries in America this makes recovery incredibly difficult… and one of them, Chainbridge Distillery, is in our backyard. Without the same distribution networks as the major stores, local distilleries rely on tastings, special events and bar sales, which have all become non-existent. Eventually, we will open for good but these places will take a while to recover. Being able to sell direct to consumers could help change that.
Unfortunately, after 8,604 emails to Governor DeSantis, a resolution still has yet to be seen. In the meantime, local distilleries like Chainbridge will continue to help their communities with provided hand sanitizer and spirits to this brave enough to venture into the wild. I’ll continue to do my part and visit Chainbridge when I am able to buy some more of their spirits for my family. If you’re interested in helping Chainbridge and other Florida distilleries, please see one of the links or the information below. We will always need local businesses so I’ll say one more time, shop local when you can.
Steven Mayer is a local Floridian who grew up in the South Corals area of Oakland Park most of his life. He attended Rickards Middle, Northeast High and earned his B.A. in English from FAU. He’s done some writing and editorial work for a south Florida lifestyle magazine and is proud to have been a partner with Starbucks for a total of 18 years.
After testing out a couple U.S. cities in his twenties, Steven realized that nothing beats home, and eventually settled back down in the Downtown Oakland Park area with his partner Douglas (another Oakland Park native), their three Pekinese dogs and two beautiful cats.
Steven enjoys anything Disney, vegan cooking, going for runs, attending local festivals, traveling, and game nights with friends and family.