Cheers! "Drinks To Go" Is Coming Back
Today the Governor and Legislature agreed to reinstate the “drinks to go” policy for restaurants and bars, a policy that the NYC Hospitality Alliance advocated for! The policy must still pass in the Senate and Assembly and be signed into law before taking effect, but will allow glasses of wine and cocktails to be sold to go with a food order (selling to go bottles will be prohibited, a political compromise needed to pass the bill), subject to other provisions like those required under the 2020/21 Executive Order (general provisions below).
Legislation establishing an Alcohol Beverage Control Law Reform Commission was also approved that will review the state’s alcohol sector and regulatory framework, and then make recommendations for additional reforms and support, which the NYC Hospitality Alliance intends to be very involved with.
When the pandemic shutdown indoor dining, selling “alcohol to go” which was previously prohibited, was allowed by a pandemic Executive Order, and provided a critical revenue stream to struggling restaurants and bars. When the policy abruptly ended last year, it struck a financial blow to their recovery, and New Yorkers were disappointed this popular policy allowing them to have wine delivered to their front door or to pick up a margarita with their takeout food from restaurants was no more.
This year, the NYC Hospitality Alliance and other groups around the state came back fighting harder than ever to bring back alcohol to go for restaurants and bars, and we succeeded. A MAJOR VICTORY!
Candidly, getting any agreement in the state legislature to allow alcohol to go from restaurants and bars, was very difficult, complex, controversial, and required a lot of finesse and negotiation. But in the end, a version of the policy that will be enacted is like what the NYC Hospitality Alliance proposed, which was a balanced and reasonable approach that stood a chance of becoming law. And soon it will be!
Today, we “cheers” the leadership of Governor Hochul, Senators’ Comrie and Ramos, and Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, along with all the elected leaders who voted to reinstate this balanced and reasonable drinks to go policy that will aide in the restaurant industry recovery, update our post-prohibition liquor laws, while delivering a popular policy to New Yorkers. We also thank all our members who contacted their elected officials urging them to support drinks to go, our incredible state government affairs team at Yoswein NY and counsel Pesetsky & Bookman, the other advocates, and associations we worked with for their partnership in making this proposal a reality!
Once the policy is enacted, the NYC Hospitality Alliance will send you a more detailed memo outlining the new law, so your restaurants and bars can sell drinks to go and comply with the provisions. In the meantime, see general provisions below. Thanks for the support and we hope this new policy helps the many restaurants and bars that have urged us to fight for this allowance. We will also issue another alert with details of other polices enacted in the budget that we advocated for and that will support our industry.
General Provisions of the Drinks To Go Policy:
- Permits glasses of wine/spirits/cocktails to be sold for takeout and delivery from on-premise licensees like restaurants and bars. Prohibits sales of full bottles of wine or liquor
- Includes a substantial food requirement that will be defined by the State Liquor Authority
- Requires drinks be in an appropriately sealed container - No open containers
- Requires price and serving to be the same for both on-premise and takeout/ delivery drinks
- Deliveries and takeout must follow local rules & regulations in relation to hours of operations
- Allows delivery by the business or by 3rd party delivery
- Requires delivery drivers to verify 21- years of age using photo id (license, passport, military id)
- Requires that all appropriate federal/ state vehicle and traffic laws be followed
- Allows State Liquor Authority to adopt rules and regulations necessary to implement and enforce laws and regulations that pertain to To-Go
- Law Sunsets: 3-years after enactment.