13 U.S. States Have Filed Bills To Extend Or Make Permanent Sales of To-Go Cocktails And Bottled Spirits

Thirteen states have recently filed bills to extend, or make permanent, the sale of to-go cocktails—a move that many advocates believe would help restaurants and bars better weather the financial effects of the ongoing pandemic.

The states filing these bills are Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia.

Bardstown Bourbon Company

The restaurant and cocktail bar at Bardstown Bourbon Company (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

At present, 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have allowed restaurants and bars to offer to-go cocktails or bottled spirits or both to be sold to customers, with legislators in Iowa and Ohio making such sales a permanent option.

These bills come along at a particularly fraught time for the hospitality industry. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), a trade organization supporting makers and marketers of distilled spirits, 372,000 Americans lost their jobs at restaurants or bars in December 2020 and financial losses in the restaurant industry reaching $240 billion last year due to the economic impact of the coronavirus.

“Innovative measures like cocktails to-go won’t fully solve the hospitality industry’s economic woes, but it may help these businesses hang on during the COVID-19 emergency,” DISCUS president and CEO Chris Swonger said, in a prepared statement. “Passing cocktails to-go measures legislatively provides stability and certainty for the future. As representatives of distilleries, restaurants and bars, we applaud the decisive action of state legislators on this issue and look forward to seeing more cocktails to-go legislation being filed across the U.S.”

Virginia legislators responded to the call with the state’s senate recently approving a bill that would extend to-go cocktail sales until July 2022, and the Illinois Legislature recently passed a bill allowing third parties to deliver wine and spirits to customers.