Pritzker signs bill legalizing cocktails to-go
Legal cocktails to-go give bars and restaurants a new avenue to serve customers through delivery and pickup service.
Illinois bars and restaurants can now sell pre-mixed cocktails for pickup and delivery, allowing them to do more business under the state’s pandemic guidelines.
Bars and restaurants have been struggling since they were shuttered on March 16 as part of social distancing and the response to COVID-19. Many depend on specialized mixed drinks to boost their sales, but were unable to sell cocktails because of Illinois’ restrictive liquor laws.
Under the new law, pre-mixed cocktails can be delivered either to a person’s residence or through curbside pick-up at the bar by someone who is 21 years old to another individual of legal age who is not already too intoxicated. The drinks must be sealed and not accessible by the driver. Third-party delivery services cannot deliver the cocktails. Previously, alcohol and mixers could be sold only as a cocktail kit, and the purchasers would have to mix the drinks themselves.
The new law also delays late fees and license fees for liquor licenses. Businesses that shut their doors because of the pandemic may also have their liquor license automatically renewed and extended.
Alcohol sales are crucial for many bars and restaurants and help make up a substantial portion of their sales. Under the stay-at-home order, businesses have had to change their sales model to stay afloat while maneuvering smaller profit margins.
Jim Ebel, co-founder of Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, Illinois, switched to producing and selling hand sanitizer in the craft distillery portion of his business.
“At the distillery we have only one employee, but we’re able to use our license to make hand sanitizer — it’s primarily ethanol, which we can legally produce,” Ebel said. “The distillery is actually floating our other companies right now. We’re able to keep the lights on. Without it I don’t know where we’d be.”
Allowing cocktails to-go is an important step that will free many bars and restaurants up to tap back into a vital source of business, and help them survive the pandemic’s new normal. Lowering restrictions allows entrepreneurs to provide creative solutions in such uncertain times – and Illinois lawmakers are noticing that burdensome regulation often stands in the way of small businesses trying to make ends meet.