Alcohol To-Go Will Be Sticking Around Post-Pandemic
Sometimes legislative changes that people would like to see need a specific impetus to spur them on. For to-go cocktails, it's been the pandemic. Though the ability to sell drinks to-go has always been an opportunity to provide additional revenues for bars, many areas that previously banned selling cocktails to-go only decided to change their rules when these establishments suddenly had a dire need for alternate income due to COVID-19. And now that these states have gotten a taste for takeout cocktails, many are choosing to keep the party going.
On Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill making to-go cocktails legal in his state. And just the day before, on Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a similar bill in Texas. Both bills had massive support: In Florida, their legislation passed in the state Senate unanimously, before passing 111 to 1 in the House; In Texas, their bill first passed in the House 144 to 1, before going through the Senate with a vote of 30 to 1.
Texas and Florida are now the 10th and 11th states to make their pandemic-spawned to-go mixed drinks rules permanent according to the Distilled Spirits Council—joining Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Montana, Arkansas, West Virginia, Georgia, and Oklahoma, as well as the District of Columbia.
The Council says this brings the total number of states that currently allow takeout drinks to 38. And more states could soon join the permanent list: Arizona, California, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Pennsylvania all have active bills to make their current COVID-19 rules outlast the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Delaware, Maine, Virginia, and Washington have all approved extending cocktails to-go until at least 2022; Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Vermont are all currently considering whether to extend their cocktail to-go laws further; and rounding out the list, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio have to-go cocktail rules on the books temporarily as COVID-relief measures—as do parts of Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Nevada.