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3 Cheers for New York as Gov. Hochul aims to permanently legalize to-go cocktails

Kent Kanouse
Flickr | Kent Kanouse

Permanently legalizing the sale of to-go cocktails could be a positive move for the upkeeping support of small businesses and the restaurant industry.

New York City extended its lifeline to restaurants, legalizing the sale of to-go alcoholic drinks in April 2022. The law is set to expire in April 2025 and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is looking to make it permanent.

Hochul praised the law as “wildly successful for bars, restaurants and everyday New Yorkers,” according to the Gothamist.

Several states such as Florida, Washington and Texas, have already made the law permanent.

The law was also popular among restaurants and bars, with nine out of ten restaurant operators saying they would likely continue the sale of to-go alcoholic beverages with takeout, according to a study by the National Restaurant Association.

Sales for alcoholic to-go beverages have been lifesaving for these businesses and can continue to help drive sales in a post-pandemic world.

The biggest opposition to this law has been lobbyists for the liquor industry. However, there was a significant increase in the retail sale of alcohol during the pandemic in 2020, according to Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Liquor stores can also rest easy as to-go bottle sales are prohibited. People looking to spend substantial amounts on alcohol or in bulk have always relied on liquor stores.

To-go beverages are more appealing to consumers looking for something convenient, the target audience for these businesses has not changed, regardless of the law.

Concerns about underage and public drinking were also presented by liquor store lobbyists.

However, under the regulations of the law, to-go alcohol cannot be bought without a substantial amount of food such as a sandwich.

Drinks must also be given in sealed containers and businesses are responsible for verifying consumers have valid identification.

Other states that have permanently cemented the to-go cocktail law can be used as references for the effectiveness of regulations and their positive impact on business.

Florida’s to-go cocktail law states that alcohol must be purchased with food and non-alcoholic drinks making up 40% of the total charge, according to WFLA.

The law is part of Hochul’s $233 billion budget proposal amendments set to be finalized at the end of March.

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