Proposal that would have allowed North Carolina restaurants, bars to sell mixed alcohol drinks to-go doesn't make it into relief bill

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Monday, May 4, 2020
North Carolina lawmakers consider allowing restaurants to sell mixed cocktails to-go during pandemic
North Carolina lawmakers are considering allowing restaurants to sell take-out mixed alcoholic drinks while they remain closed to dine-in customers during the pandemic.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- North Carolina restaurants and bars won't be able to offer to-go cocktails and mixed drinks... at least for now.

A measure that would have allowed businesses to sell mixed alcoholic drinks for takeout and delivery was removed from the final draft of a $1.5 billion emergency relief package.

Last week, a proposal was submitted that would have allowed restaurants to sell up to two mixed drinks per food order for takeout and delivery. The drinks would have to been sold "in a container with a secure lid or cap and in a manner designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap."

Some bars in the Triangle are selling custom cocktail mix, minus the alcohol, to make at home.

Other states have passed bills allowing bars to sell mixed cocktails with the alcohol included.

"When you're thinking about a restaurant, food margins are always going to be really tight and you're always going to make most of your money on the alcohol," Lady Luck executive chef Kevin Ruiz told ABC11 last week. "We can sell beer to-go and wine to-go but it dampers our numbers a lot."

"The consensus was this was something we could run later in an alcohol bill and did not belong in the COVID-19 recovery bill," Sen. Brent Jackson, a Sampson County Republican, said, according to our newsgathering partners at the News&Observer.

Restaurants and bars have remained closed to dine-in customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Cooper is expected to sign the package, which passed the state House and Senate on Saturday.