- In her State of the State address on Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said her administration would allow the sale of to-go alcoholic beverages from bars and restaurants.
- Hochul's administration will propose legislation permanently legalizing the sale of to-go alcoholic drinks, according to the governor's website. New York state allowed the sale of such drinks under broad emergency powers earlier in the pandemic. But the period for the legal sale of to-go cocktails ended in June 2021, when Hochul's predecessor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, declared the end of the state's COVID-19 emergency.
- The process to legalize to-go drinks permanently could take months, but could be critical to provide an additional revenue source for struggling restaurants.
Throughout the pandemic, the ability to sell to-go alcohol helped restaurants keep their doors open. Different jurisdictions have implemented divergent rules governing off-premise alcohol sales, and some states, like New York, let their early-pandemic alcohol delivery allowances lapse.
Hochul's proposal to make to-go drinks from bars and restaurants permanently legal could be a lifeline for eateries in the state, which entered 2022 with surging COVID-19 caseloads and hospitalizations.
The New York City Hospitality Alliance praised Hochul's support for permanent to-go cocktail sales in a statement emailed to Restaurant Dive.
"Cheers to Governor Hochul for announcing her support to permanently bring back drinks to go at restaurants and bars. The drinks to go policy provides critically important revenue streams to struggling restaurants and bars and is extraordinarily popular with the public, unsurprisingly," Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in the statement.
New York would join at least 20 states, including Texas, Florida and Washington, D.C., in changing laws to legalize the sale of alcoholic beverages for takeout and delivery.
While to-go cocktails have been helpful for restaurants and popular at the legislative level, delivery aggregators have bet on the expansion of takeout and delivery alcohol as well. In September, DoorDash rolled out alcohol delivery to 20 states, and Uber acquired alcohol delivery platform Drizly last February.
For Hochul's promise to come to fruition, the governor will have to work with the New York State Legislature to pass a law permitting to-go alcohol sales, which could take months. Gothamist reported that the New York State Liquor Authority said Hochul didn't have the authority to bring back to-go drinks without a law passing both houses of the legislature. With the legislative session running to mid-June, and Hochul proposing a slate of ambitious programs, it's unclear whether New York restaurants will be able to sell alcohol for takeout at any point this winter.