United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1998 HQ Rulings > HQ 960624 - HQ 960802 > HQ 960743

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 960743

October 16, 1997

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 960743ptl


TARIFF NO.: 2208.60.2000; 7323.93.0080.

John B. Pellegrini, Esq.
Ross & Hardies
65 East 55th Street
New York, NY 10022-3219

RE: Reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) B86742; Vodka and a Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker; HQ 085326, 954579, 082954, 956368, 950845.

Dear Mr. Pellegrini:

This is in response to your request for reconsideration of NYRL B86742, dated June 26, 1997, issued to you on behalf of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc. concerning the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of bottled vodka distilled in Sweden and a stainless steel cocktail shaker produced in Taiwan. The two products are intended to be packaged together in a foreign trade zone prior to being offered for sale in the United States. That ruling held that the two products should be classified as separate articles.

In preparing this ruling, consideration was given to your presentation at our meeting on September 18, 1997, and after examination of the sample submitted.


The first of the two articles under consideration is a 750ml glass bottle containing vodka distilled in Sweden. The other article is a stainless steel cocktail shaker produced in Taiwan. The importer intends to enter each of the articles independently into a foreign trade zone where they will be packaged together prior to being withdrawn for sale in the United States. The cost of the two articles is comparable (the vodka being $6.74 for 750 ml. and the shakers vary between $6.50 and $7.80). Thus, neither article clearly dominates the other on a pure value basis.

Because the articles are to be packaged together for retail sale, you contend that they should be considered a set. Further, once it has been established that the products as offered for sale constitute a set, you contend the products should be classified in the subheading 2208.60.20, HTSUS, which describes spirits, considering the relative roles of the two components and laws which govern the sale of spirits.


Should a cocktail shaker and a bottle of vodka which are packaged together be classified as separate articles, or be considered a set?


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the HTSUS is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied in order. In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes (ENs), although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

In the instant situation, there is no specific heading that refers to the article as it is proposed to be offered for sale. The article consists of two components: a bottle of vodka and a stainless steel cocktail shaker. The vodka is classifiable under subheading 2208.60.2000, HTSUS, which provides for vodka ... in containers each holding not over 4 liters ... valued over $2.05 per liter. The stainless steel cocktail shaker is classified under subheading 7323.93.0080, HTSUS, which provides for Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof, of iron or steel, other, of stainless steel, other. This multiple classification potential for the article requires that we attempt to classify the article in accordance with the provisions of GRI 3.

GRI 3 requires that we examine the components of the article to determine whether the elements enumerated in the rule have been satisfied. GRI 3(a) provides that the heading which provides the most specific description is to be used rather than one which is more general. When there are mixtures of articles or composite goods put up for sale as sets for retail sale, the rule states that the headings shall be considered equally specific, thus forcing us to turn to GRI 3(b).

GRI 3(b) governs the classification of mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale. The EN's provide that, if this rule applies, goods shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character. This determination may be based upon a variety of factors, such as bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods. However, for GRI Rule 3(b) to apply, the goods put up for retail sale must meet three criteria. First, they must consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings. Second, they must consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity. Finally, they must be put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking.

The instant combination meets the first and last criteria of GRI 3(b). The two items are classifiable in different headings and the combination will be put up for sale without the need for repacking. However, the question of whether it meets the second criteria of being put together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity is questionable.

It is your contention that the subject articles constitute a set within the scope of GRI 3(b). In support of this, you cite several Headquarters rulings which also happen to revolve around some article which was packaged along with a bottle of an alcoholic beverage (HQ 085326, dated September 22,1989, and HQ 954579, dated October 6, 1993, both involved a bottle of spirits which was packaged with glassware and HQ 082954, dated December 20, 1989 involved a bottle of champagne packaged with some glasses). We also note HQ 956368, dated July 7, 1997, concerning bottles of Scotch or Canadian whiskey which were packaged with pouring cradles.

All of these combinations happen to facilitate the direct consumption of the alcohol. The cradles help pour it, and the glasses assist in its consumption. No intervening process or additional element is introduced or needed to complete the act of consumption. Additionally, the articles packaged with the bottles of liquor are definitely ancillary, either in terms of relative cost or the potential for subsequent reuse of the product. The cost of the glasses was a small fraction of the cost of the liquor and the cradles were shaped to hold the bottles of the particular brands with which they were packaged. Additional cases cited concern articles which are regularly sold or merchandised as units. Through standard usage and common advertising practice, assemblages such as "desk organizing sets," "cheese sets" and "coffee service sets" are understood by most people. The components of these "sets," as presented for sale, qualify as GRI 3(b) sets.

In this case, we have been presented with two articles which, although they can be used together, are not interdependent. At times, the cost of the cocktail shaker will exceed the cost of the bottle of vodka. Due to its construction, the useful life of the shaker can be safely expected to outlast many bottles of vodka. Additionally, the shaker is not used in the consumption of the vodka. Rather, it is something into which vodka, or another liquor, is poured so that additional materials can be added in the preparation of a mixed beverage. The cocktail shaker is akin to the wooden bowl which was the subject of Headquarters ruling HQ 950845, dated June 26, 1992. In that case, a wooden bowl containing a mixture of nuts and raisins was held not to be a set. The two products were classified separately.

The nature and use of the two items distinguishes it from the previously cited cases in which alcohol bottles were packed with an accessory article which facilitated immediate consumption. Here, the shaker is not an accessory, but a significant item whose use is not dedicated to use with the vodka. It is to be used along with some alcoholic beverage and other ingredients to prepare a "mixed drink." Including it with the bottle of vodka is an inducement for a consumer to purchase that particular brand. However, once the contents of the bottle which is packaged with the shaker are consumed, the shaker will perform as intended with any brand. The mere packaging of the two items does not create a set for classification purposes, even if there might be instances when the products would be used together. Such an argument could lead to an expansion of the spaghetti meal example given in the EN's to include a stainless steel pot in which to cook the meal. Such an expansion is not contemplated under the GRI. The two items do not constitute a set within the scope of GRI 3(b). They should be classified as separate articles under GRI 1.


The applicable subheading for the vodka will be 2208.60.2000, HTSUS, which provides for vodka ... in containers each holding not over 4 liters ... valued over $2.05 per liter. The rate of duty will be 8.1 cents per proof liter. In addition, the vodka is subject to a Federal Excise Tax of $13.50 per proof gallon and a proportionate tax at the like rate on all fractional parts of a proof gallon.

The applicable subheading for the stainless steel cocktail shaker will be 7323.93.0080, HTSUS, which provides for Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof, of iron or steel, other, of stainless steel, other. The rate of duty will be 2.6 percent ad valorem.

NY B86742, issued June 26, 1997, is affirmed.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: