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  • Writer's pictureVik F.

To-Go Cocktails Become a Permanent Fixture in U.S. States

Virginia has joined the ranks of states making to-go cocktails a permanent option, signaling a broader change in American alcohol laws post-pandemic. Governor Glenn Youngkin's recent signing of HB 688 marks Virginia as the 26th state to solidify the status of to-go alcoholic beverages, extending the lifeline once offered to businesses during the height of COVID-19 restrictions.


Originally temporary measures to aid struggling bars, restaurants, and distilleries, cocktails-to-go have proven popular among consumers and beneficial for the hospitality industry. The transition from temporary relief to permanent law reflects the changing landscape of alcohol consumption and sales in the United States.


The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association (VRLTA) have praised the move, highlighting the stability and continued revenue it promises for the local businesses. "Virginia consumers, restaurants, bars, and distilleries can all toast to the fact that cocktails to-go are here to stay," remarked Andy Deloney, a senior DISCUS official, emphasizing the positive impact of the legislation.


Virginia's adoption of this policy aligns with a growing trend across the country. Other states that have enacted permanent laws for cocktails-to-go include Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.


Meanwhile, states like California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont have extended the provision on a temporary basis, with expiration dates ranging from 2024 to 2028, indicating a cautious approach to making these measures a lasting part of their alcohol policy landscape.


The legislative shift underscores a significant transformation in how alcohol is sold and consumed, marrying convenience with regulation. It's a development that Eric Terry, president and CEO of VRLTA, sees as a "great win for Virginia’s ABC-licensed restaurants," celebrating the broad bipartisan support that helped make these changes possible.


As the U.S. continues to navigate the post-pandemic world, the permanence of cocktails-to-go represents a melding of necessity and innovation. It illustrates a willingness to adapt longstanding regulations in response to evolving market dynamics and consumer preferences. The distilled spirits industry, while embracing these changes, continues to emphasize responsible consumption and adherence to alcohol laws, ensuring that the convenience of to-go cocktails does not compromise public safety or well-being.


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