During a hearing today before the Maine Joint Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) submitted testimony in support of LR 3333, legislation to extend the sale of cocktails to-go from restaurants and bars.

The testimony, submitted by DISCUS Vice President of State Government Relations Jay Hibbard, underscored that cocktails to-go have provided a vital economic boost to struggling restaurants and bars. Since the pandemic hit the United States, cocktails to-go measures have been approved in more than 30 states.

The legislation would allow certain beverage alcohol licensees to sell beer, wine and approved mixed drinks with a food purchase during the declared state of emergency or until April 15, 2022.  Under the legislation, mixed drinks must be in sealed containers, appropriately labeled and placed in the trunk or non-passenger compartments of a vehicle.

“The hospitality industry, which represents thousands of jobs in all sixteen counties has been one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hibbard stated in his written testimony. “According to the National Restaurant Association, closures and reduced capacity restrictions have caused a nearly 80 percent reduction in restaurant sales and an 86 percent reduction in jobs across the country. The temporary approval of cocktails-to-go has provided a meaningful source of revenue to the many struggling hospitality businesses across the state of Maine.”

Iowa became the first state to make the cocktails-to-go measure permanent in June, and the state of Michigan has approved an extension until December 31, 2025. In addition, Colorado, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delaware and Kansas have all legislatively approved extensions of the cocktails-to-go privileges, while other states, including Texas, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma and the District of Columbia, are considering making their policies permanent or adopting long-term extensions.

The distilled spirits industry is committed to responsibility and encourages moderation for adults who choose to drink alcohol. Cocktails to-go are intended for home consumption. Laws governing alcohol consumption must always be observed.