Texas Governor Signs Cocktails To-Go Bill into Law

By: - May 13, 2021 12:00 am

Bartender Julia Momose stands at a serving window with a cocktail to-go at the Kumiko bar in Chicago in August. A growing number of states are letting restaurants and bars offer drinks for takeout and delivery. Charles Rex Arbogast/The Associated Press

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed a bill into law that makes cocktails to-go permanent in his state.

Texas becomes the 10th state since the COVID-19 pandemic began to permanently allow takeout mixed drinks, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a trade group.

“Cocktails to-go provided a much-needed lifeline for struggling hospitality businesses and prevented the permanent closure of many,” Kristi Brown, a senior director at the council, said in a news release. “Now that this measure is permanent, hospitality businesses will have increased stability as they begin the long path to recovery.”

The Texas measure, which goes into effect immediately, was approved nearly unanimously by the state House and Senate. It allows mixed drinks, beer and wine to be included in pickup and delivery orders as long as the beverages are in a sealed, tamper-proof container and accompany food.

The Texas Restaurant Association also applauded the decision.

“Let’s raise a glass to toast,” the group tweeted, saying the law “turns a temporary lifeline into long-term opportunity for Texas restaurants.”

In March of 2020, Abbott signed a waiver allowing to-go alcohol sales. It later was extended.

Twenty states are considering legislation that would permit cocktails to-go, or extend or make permanent measures allowing them, according to the distilled spirits group.

During the pandemic, at least 32 states decided to let restaurants and bars offer take-out cocktails to help them during the economic downturn. Beer and wine to-go were included as well.

Some health care advocates oppose the practice, saying it makes alcohol more easily available and could lead to increased substance use disorder and underage drinking.

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Jenni Bergal

Jenni Bergal covers transportation, infrastructure and cybersecurity for Stateline. She has been a reporter at Kaiser and the Center for Public Integrity.