"No one is going miss tremendously the sale of grain alcohol; there's not a whole lot of it," Marberger said. Still, he added, "we're not thrilled about it either."
Marberger said his store, Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, sells about 30 cases of grain alcohol a year, primarily to people making cordials like limoncello at home. Or, he said, to people who are storing their boats for winter and use it to flush out the water lines.
Sen. Ed Reilly, an Anne Arundel County Republican, said he voted against the ban "not for lack of love for our college students."
"This bill is like pulling a hair out of your head when you really need a haircut," he said. "It's symbolism over substance."
Reilly brought a bottle of Everclear into the Senate chambers for the debate and pointed out college students could still get other strong liquors, including Bacardi 151, a rum named for its 151-proof alcohol content. He suggested that instead of restricting sales of booze, the state should bolster alcohol education: "We need to get to the heart of the matter."
Luxco, which makes Everclear, sells two versions — 190-proof and the slightly weaker 151-proof that is legal in some states that outlaw the stronger one. Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania are among the states that forbid the stronger version.
A Luxco spokesman referred questions to the company's president, who was unavailable to comment.
Sen. Karen Montgomery, a Democrat from Montgomery County, argued that grain alcohol, often poured into lemonade, fruit punch or watermelons, contributes to sexual assault of women. "This a dangerous alcohol," she said.
Shanna Cooper, who owns the MoonShine Tavern in Fells Point, said the grain alcohol she sells is all below 125-proof.
"Once you start pushing above 125, it tastes like rubbing alcohol," she said. Cooper said she hopes legislators won't ban grain alcohol entirely, because some of her moonshine is comparable in alcohol content to mainstream whiskeys.
But she understands why the state would want to take high-concentration grain liquors off the shelves. The MoonShine Tavern's most popular drink is a Carolinian concoction with vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg flavors called CatDaddy. It's only 80-proof.
"You can still taste it," Cooper said. "You can take a shot of it, and it doesn't kill you and leave you shivering."
Baltimore Sun reporter Quinn Kelley contributed to this report.