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Missions Accomplished

Posted on  | January 20, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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After six years as Chairman of the State Liquor Authority, Dennis Rosen is moving on—and up—having been appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January to become New York’s next Inspector General for Medicaid. Beverage Media sat down with Chairman Rosen, as he reflected back on six years of remarkable progress. Here, Rosen recounts his most important accomplishments at the SLA.


When I came to the agency, there was a backlog of over 3,000 applications, and it would take anywhere from six to nine months for something to be approved. People were screaming that they needed someone to try and fix that. 

And we did. Going back four years, since Governor Cuomo’s been here, manufacturing licenses’ average review time has gone from 83 to 40 days. Liquor store licenses have gone from an average of 142 days to 56 days. On-premise licenses have gone from 100 days to 50 days. Grocery store licenses 101 days to 46. 

That was the number one thing I’m most pleased about. Each one of those days is a day that someone can feed their family, that they wouldn’t have been able to do four years ago.


Overall, we have more than doubled the number of alcoholic beverage manufacturers in New York State. In New York City, we’ve more than tripled the number of companies. 

I’m very proud that we invented two licenses—the Farm Brewery license in 2013 and the Farm Cidery license in 2014. There were five hard cider producers in the state in 2011; we’ve got 31 now. There were zero farm breweries four years ago, and there are now 71 in the state. 

Farm wineries went from 195 to 303. The farm winery license has been in effect since 1976. For the first 35 years of that license, you had 195 of them, and just in the last few years we’ve increased that by over 100. For a license that’s been in existence so long, it’s a wonderful increase to go from 195 to 303. 

For farm distillery licenses, we’ve gone from 10 to 61. Wineries, from 52 to 84. There was a legislative change a couple years ago that liberalized the law with respect to restaurant brewers. Before you couldn’t have other restaurants if you had a brew pub. One of the nice results of liberalizing is that we’ve gone from 10 to 35 in four years. For a class AB distiller, which is a good size distillery, we have gone from 14 to 37. And microbreweries from 40 to 109. I think that highlights the major increases in production. 

What’s really cool about all the farm licenses is that they require you produce your product with a certain amount of New York agricultural products. People are scrambling to produce hops because there are now so many farm brewery licenses. The governor has invested millions in a partnership with the Cornell Agriculture school, to advise farmers on what are the best crops to grow which are the most disease resistant. It’s a wonderful example of how these farm licenses have repercussions with agriculture and tourism.


A third thing I’m very pleased with is the upgrade of our price posting interface. It’s great for the industry and it’s transparent. If you’re a retailer now, it’s tougher to hide a special deal just for a few guys, and on the other hand, it’s good for enforcement and it protects against a legal challenge.


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