Curbside cocktails anyone?
In time for New Year’s Eve, North Carolina and Oregon have joined at least 30 other states in allowing restaurants and bars to sell mixed drinks for offsite consumption.
As pandemic has placed harsh restrictions on indoor dining and drinking, restaurant and bar workers have launched numerous campaigns and petitions over the last couple months asking to be able to sell hard liquor to-go, as opposed to just beer and sealed bottles of wine. With winter’s restrictions on outdoor seating expected to lead to some tough months ahead, many establishments are welcoming whatever sales off-premise consumption may bring.
Such to-go programs are expected to be supported by consumers looking for ways to help local businesses. Much like local coffee shops or juice bars, mixologists expect to be able to offer drinks people can’t make in their homes.
For establishments, to-go cocktails add some additional cost for the containers and labor as well as extra procedures.
In North Carolina, curbside to-go drinks are limited to one drink per person per order. Cocktails need to be properly sealed and transported in the trunk of a car, not the passenger area.
Delivery drivers have to be at least 21 years old, undergo training, and verify everybody receiving a drink is over 21 and not too intoxicated. Deliveries are not allowed to university campuses.
Oregon has included a food requirement — the new rules allow two servings of alcohol “per substantial food item ordered.”
Risks from the new leniency may include a rise in impaired and/or underage drinking. People have been reported walking on streets or into other establishments with to-go drinks.
The sales opportunity from to-go cocktails is generally seen as minimal but still another revenue source in a challenging time. In Florida, pending legislation would make the sale of sealed containers of cocktails and spirits to-go with any food order permanent.
“Do I think to-go cocktails are a be-all, end-all rescue plan for restaurant-bars? Absolutely not,” Annie Blake, co-owner of Death or Glory bar in Florida’s Delray Beach, told the Sun-Sentinel. “But it’s a great service for people not going out to bars. Any little bit of incremental business helps.”
- Oregon approves cocktails to-go at last, sending lifeline to struggling restaurants and bars – Oregonian
- Restaurant Industry in Free Fall; 10,000 Close in Three Months – National Restaurant Association
- There Is No Consensus in the U.K. Government on What a Scotch Egg Is – Eater London
- Cooper allows to-go mixed drinks as latest step in pandemic fight – WRAL.com
- Americans Are Drinking 14% More Often During Pandemic, Study Finds – NPR
- Cocktails-to-go could be permanent in Florida under new proposal – South Florida Sun-Sentinel
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more pros than cons in allowing sales of to-go cocktails? Do you see it as a temporary program to support establishments during the pandemic or should it be permanent?