Revenue Boosting Measure Supports Financially Strained Hospitality Industry

 The Distilled Spirits Council commended the Massachusetts House for passing legislation today allowing restaurants and bars to sell cocktails to-go, calling the measure “an important lifeline for hospitality businesses struggling to recover from the economic hardships caused by COVID-19.”

House Bill 4767, entitled, An Act addressing challenges faced by food and beverage establishments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, passed the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday. The legislation permits certain beverage alcohol licensees to sell mixed drinks with a food purchase during the declared state of emergency or until February 28, 2021, whichever is later.

“Thousands of hospitality businesses across Massachusetts including restaurants, taverns and bars, have been closed for many weeks,” said Jay Hibbard, DISCUS Vice President of State Government Relations, who submitted testimony in support of the legislation. “Clearly, this has had a devastating impact on the nearly 350,000 people employed by on-premise establishments across the commonwealth. A new normal will be a long time coming for the almost 16,000 eating and drinking establishments in Massachusetts, and keeping these businesses viable and employees working will be critical.”

Under the legislation, mixed drinks must be in sealed containers and placed in the trunk or non-passenger compartments of the vehicle.

Currently, 33 states plus the District of Columbia are allowing restaurants and/or bars to sell cocktails to-go, bottled spirits to-go or both. Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia are allowing restaurants and/or bars to deliver distilled spirits in some form. In addition, 14 states plus the District of Columbia are now permitting curbside pickup of distilled spirits from restaurants and/or bars.

Some states, including Texas, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma and the District of Columbia, are considering making these policies permanent.

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.