Drinks to Go to Stay?

If Gov. Kathy Hochul has her way, New York could become the twenty-first state in the nation to legalize the sale of “to-go” cocktails by bars and restaurants. A temporary law to that effect passed during the pandemic is due to sunset in April. But the governor wants to make the law permanent.

In a statement yesterday, Hochul waxed melodramatic, insisting that “[d]uring the darkest days of the pandemic, to-go drinks were a critical lifeline for our hospitality industry and a beloved treat for consumers. Since then, we’ve legalized to-go alcohol on a temporary basis, and it’s been wildly successful for bars, restaurants, and everyday New Yorkers. It’s long overdue to permanently legalize to-go drinks, and in this year’s budget we’re going to get the job done.”

The commonsense safeguards that were written into the original legislation will be retained. Alcohol-to-go sales will still need to be part of a “substantial food item” and must be sold in sealed containers. Such transactions, moreover, are restricted to restaurants with licenses to sell wine and alcohol.