Oklahoma Codifies Educational Tastings to Protect Local Businesses in Beverage Industry, Ensure Quality Service for Patrons


May 30, 2024

Contact: Hayden Hinchey


Oklahoma codifies educational tastings to protect local businesses in beverage industry, ensure quality service for patrons

Oklahoma Restaurant Association, Oklahoma Beer Alliance applaud passage, signature of Senate Bill 2001

As the 2024 regular legislative session concludes, the Oklahoma Restaurant Association and the Oklahoma Beer Alliance are applauding the passage and signature of Senate Bill 2001, which further modernizes Oklahoma’s beverage industry and allows restaurant employees to conduct educational tastings of wine, beer and spirits.

The bill, authored by Senator Coleman and Representative Hays, was signed by Governor Stitt on April 22 and went into effect immediately; it outlines parameters for licensed establishments to offer on-premise educational tastings, a practice that is standard nationwide. As defined in the legislation, consuming alcohol during educational tastings is always voluntary and can not be required as a condition of employment.

“The passage of Senate Bill 2001 is a major victory for restaurants across Oklahoma,” said James Leewright, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association. “This new law will help restaurants, bars and other licensed establishments maintain high standards of quality service and meet the expectations of their customers, while also ensuring Oklahoma is aligned with national industry standards. Before this was codified, businesses were getting hit with burdensome fines for a practice that is the norm in the industry and promotes good business. This has had a chilling effect on other establishments across the state. We commend Senator Coleman and Representative Hays for their leadership and commitment to promoting a business-friendly environment.”

Earlier this year, Governor Stitt signed an emergency rule to reinstate educational tastings in Oklahoma after an Oklahoma City restaurant was cited by the ABLE Commission for holding an educational tasting with employees. Senate Bill 2001 builds upon this progress with an even more holistic approach to employee education and the oversight of beverage services, which includes straw testing.

Straw testing means the consumption of a small amount of an alcoholic beverage by a licensed employee, twenty-one years of age or older, to determine the quality or desired flavor profile of an alcoholic beverage that has been serviced, or is to be served, to a patron.

“This bill represents a step forward in modernizing Oklahoma’s beverage industry, allowing restaurants to more effectively train their staff, serve their customers and stay competitive in the market,” said Lisette Barnes, president of the Oklahoma Beer Alliance. “Not only does this legislation directly benefit local businesses and customers, it also helps ensure Oklahoma’s hospitality industry is poised for continued growth and success.”

This legislation:

  • Protects businesses from burdensome fines
  • Allows for industry-standard employee training and education
  • Promotes high quality dining experiences in award-winning culinary establishments 
  • Encourages growth of the state’s hospitality industry

“Educational beer tastings equip employees with the knowledge they need to understand the complexities and unique profiles of different beers,” said Jason Hall, senior general manager of Anheuser-Busch ONE Oklahoma. “When employees can provide well-informed insights and recommendations on the products they’re serving, it directly benefits the customer experience. It also allows our products to be presented with the expertise they deserve.”

To view the final bill language, click here.

About Oklahoma Beer Alliance

The Oklahoma Beer Alliance is dedicated to promoting common sense laws that enable Oklahomans to choose the highest quality products without compromise, while encouraging personal responsibility throughout our community that benefits the common good. For more information, please visit okbeeralliance.com.

About Oklahoma Restaurant Association

Founded in 1933, the Oklahoma Restaurant Association is the trade association o­f restaurants and foodservice operations, the state’s largest private industry employer. Representing more than 4,000 restaurants and members, the ORA actively monitors legislation and regulatory agencies; helps foodservice management develop and strengthen business; and develops the membership to do together for the industry what cannot be done individually.