California’s Legislature on Thursday passed a bill to extend the state’s cocktail-to-go approval until Dec. 31, 2026. The bill goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature.
Lawmakers in Sacramento, Calif., approved Senate Bill 389, which specifies that cocktails to-go would require the purchase of a meal and be limited to two cocktails per meal. The bill also requires cocktails to-go to be picked up directly by the consumer, and it prohibits delivery of alcoholic drinks.
The California proposal requires that a restaurant, bar or distillery must also sell food on its premises to offer cocktails to-go, and those beverages must be sold in a container with a sealable lid or cap.
The cocktails are limited to 4.5 ounces of distilled spirits per serving, and they must be transported in a trunk or an area of the vehicle to is not occupied by the driver or passengers. Those transport limits must be posted in a visible location within the establishment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate California’s hospitality businesses, and it will be years before they fully recover,” said Adam Smith, vice president of state and government relations for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, in statement.
“Extending cocktails to-go for five years will provide a critical lifeline for California’s bars, restaurants and distilleries,” Smith said.
The Distilled Spirits Council said that, since the COVID19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, more than 35 states began allowing restaurants and/or bars to sell cocktails to-go as an economic relief measure via governors’ executive orders or other temporary measures.
Since then, 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to make cocktails to-go permanent, and 14 other states passed legislation to allow cocktails to-go on a temporary basis.
For example, a measure that allows Oklahomans to purchase cocktails to-go went into effect Aug. 25. Oklahoma’s measure allows establishments holding a caterer’s or mixed beverage license to sell single-serve wine and cocktails to-go if they are in a sealed, tamper-proof container.
Other states that passed legislation to make cocktails to-go permanent include: Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin as well as the District of Columbia.
New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill to make cocktails to-go permanent. Temporary legislation allowing to-go cocktails expires on Jan. 1, 2022.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, or DISCUS, has been tracking legislation and said other states that have passed legislation to allow cocktails to-go on a temporary basis include:
- Colorado (expires July 1, 2025)
- Connecticut (expires June 4, 2024)
- Delaware (expires March 31, 2022)
- Illinois (expires Jan. 3, 2024)
- Maine (expires Sept. 10, 2022)
- Maryland (local option - expires June 30, 2023)
- Massachusetts (expires May 1, 2022)
- Michigan (expires Dec. 31, 2025),
- Rhode Island (expires March 1, 2022)
- Tennessee (expires July 1, 2023)
- Vermont (expires July 1, 2023)
- Virginia (expires July 1, 2022)
- Washington (expires July 1, 2023)
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