Curbside cocktails anyone?

Discussion
Photo: RetailWire
Dec 30, 2020
Tom Ryan

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.”

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?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Desperate times call for creative measures. We should do everything we can to help bars and restaurants survive."
"The biggest issue with this will be that all public consumption laws are still geared toward no off-premises “ready-to-drink” alcohol."
"Honestly, this country has ridiculously restrictive laws on alcohol that are completely at odds with its narrative of being “the land of the free.”"

Join the Discussion!

9 Comments on "Curbside cocktails anyone?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Given the pressures on foodservice businesses, I am fully supportive of this measure. In fact, I would go further: this should be permitted at all times. Honestly, this country has ridiculously restrictive laws on alcohol that are completely at odds with its narrative of being “the land of the free.”

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust
  1. I don’t understand why this is an issue. If not going to a bar, I could go to a store and buy a pack of various mixed drinks with alcohol;
  2. I don’t see the attractiveness for the customer. One drink per person is hardly a party.
Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Desperate times call for creative measures. We should do everything we can to help bars and restaurants survive.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

The biggest issue with this will be that all public consumption laws are still geared toward no off-premises “ready-to-drink” alcohol. This either severely curtails the appeal of to-go cocktails or encourages unlawful nearby consumption by “take-out customers.” This works fine for New Orleans and Key West — not so much for downtown Durham, NC.

RandyDandy
Guest
3 months 15 days ago
During these dire, business-threatening times, restaurants/bars should be allowed to do what they can to generate revenue. However, a change in the intrinsic ways these operations do business, from a somewhat controlled environment to one that is impossible-to-totally manage is a serious concern. But first, consider this: that by comparison, grocery stores have no more care over a buyer’s purchase of alcohol (beyond age-requirements) and that person’s potential alcoholism or mental impairment due to consumption than they do over one’s buying fatty foods and the potential of obesity for the customer. Yet, restaurants and especially bars are at least partly responsible for the actions of and effects to customers as it relates to the buying and consuming of goods within the confines of their property. The moment a person leaves with, say, a to-go cocktail and heads to god-knows-where to imbibe it is very problematic. No one could easily hold Kroger responsible if the beer six-pack they sold led to someone’s intoxicated fracas. But a cocktail-caused catastrophe at one’s home, or (walking) on the way… Read more »
Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Short answer: This is already in play in some communities. Look at the results and then decide if it is appropriate.

My view is this: Some worry that buying a cocktail to go means drinking and driving. Response: You can go to the liquor store and buy cold beer, wine, etc. The laws related to drinking while driving or in an automobile apply. Same would be for to-go liquor sales. The key is that these laws are enforced. And as for short term during the pandemic or permanent afterward, my vote is for permanent for those establishments that want to do so.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Honestly I’m rather surprised — won’t say pleased or not, just surprised — at how quickly regs were liberalized here in CA. But I think everyone saw the urgency, and I’m doubtful they’ll last long, however strong the case for it might be. As Neil noted, logic and consistency are not hallmarks of our ABC laws.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Given the issues of the pandemic, we need to be aware of and considerate to others. This is more than allowed when considering curbside cocktails. Actually curbside serving of alcohol is on the fringe of embracing drinking and driving, which has proven to be a foolish approach to the selling of alcohol. Just like the old freeway beer barns, we need to be aware and considerate of the freedom of everyone. This does not mean that we have a right to cocktails in our car nor any other liquor. Our freedoms do not extend to those freedoms when impinging on those of another, just like yelling fire in a crowded theater is not part of my freedom of speech. Alcohol is a regulated drug that does not belong in any vehicle, at any time.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

I think that definitely in the short term, this will help bars and restaurants to boost their margins. In the long run, the large alcohol distributors and manufacturers may have some issues, as well as concerned parents. Given the extraordinary situation everyone is under, I think it will stay as a short-term offer.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Desperate times call for creative measures. We should do everything we can to help bars and restaurants survive."
"The biggest issue with this will be that all public consumption laws are still geared toward no off-premises “ready-to-drink” alcohol."
"Honestly, this country has ridiculously restrictive laws on alcohol that are completely at odds with its narrative of being “the land of the free.”"

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