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To-Go Cocktails Could Become Permanent in Texas Beyond the Pandemic

Two Texas representatives have filed a bill to make alcohol to go widely available

Three glass bottles of beverages, one yellow, one amber, and another yellow, on a wooden table
Currently, Texas restaurants and bars are able to sell to-go cocktails with the purchase of food during the length of the novel coronavirus pandemic

Alcoholic beverages to go could become a permanent thing in Texas, thanks to recently introduced legislation.

Takeout and delivery alcoholic beverages — mixed cocktails, beer, and wine — are currently allowed via an emergency measure filed in July by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, as a way to create extra revenue for bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and Rep. Charlie Green, R-Fort Worth, have filed the two bills — SB 298 in the Senate and HB 1094 in the House of Representatives — which would make those emergency measures permanent. The legislators collaborated with the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) on the bill.

The bill would allow restaurants with mixed beverage permits and food and beverage certificates from TABC to sell beer, wine, and cocktails for pickup or delivery beyond the pandemic, including through third-party delivery companies. In line with the current emergency requirements, alcoholic beverages would have to be purchased with food. The bill also codifies the safety provisions in the governor’s waiver, like labeling and sealing requirements.

Before the updated emergency measure in June, restaurants and bars could only sell manufacturer-sealed alcoholic beverages (which meant no mixed cocktails) that were 375 milliliters or less. Many businesses used this waiver to sell cocktail kits with liquor bottles, nonalcoholic mixers, and ingredients, all packed separately so people could make drinks at home. This option was available for takeout or delivery.

In a press release, TRA president and CEO Emily Williams Knight said, “We know the road to recovery will be long, which is precisely why we need tools like alcohol to-go to become permanent.”

The Texas Legislature begins its 2021 session today.

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