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Market Watch: Retailers Wary Of Permanent Cocktails-To-Go Measures

August 24, 2021

Covid-19 sparked major changes in sales strategies at the retail tier, as well as beverage alcohol industry emergency regulations nationwide. Among the latter, on-premise cocktails-to-go have gained the most visibility and traction, with 16 states and Washington, D.C. making drinks carryout permanent and 14 states allowing it at least into 2022. During the pandemic peak, the measure gave struggling restaurants a lifeline. Now some retailers are concerned about long-term consequences.

“We helped pass cocktails-to-go with the understanding it wouldn’t become permanent,” says Ryan Maloney, president of the Massachusetts Package Store Association and owner of Julio’s Liquors in Westborough, Massachusetts. “If you want drinks carryout to be permanent, changes are needed in how the law is written.”

In all, 39 states enacted temporary laws last year to allow cocktails-to-go, and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) has been one of these measures’ biggest proponents. “A lot of restaurants typically get 25%-30% of their revenue from alcohol,” says David Ozgo, senior vice president of economic and strategic analysis for DISCUS. “If you’re limited to carryout food, you’re cutting a revenue stream. Now we are trying to make or have made drinks carryout permanent in a number of states.” Market Watch has the full story.—Kevin Barry

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