What You Need To Know About To-Go Cocktails

Who knew that almost three weeks ago we would be having themed virtual happy hours on platforms like Zoom and Teams, replacing our evenings out with friends with toasting each other in front of our computers and phones in an effort to practice social distancing to help fight COVID-19 (via Forbes)? And yet, here we are with more than half the United States and the Navajo Nation staying at home as directed by state and federal leaders and authorities. That's at least 270 million people in at least 33 states staying at home (via The New York Times).

Additionally, nearly one-third of the country has been hit with a shutdown order which has closed and shuttered businesses of all types, including the dining rooms of restaurants and bars (via Business Insider). However, restaurants are still allowed to serve take-out, and some states like California and New York have relaxed their regulatory rules or "new off-premises privileges" which is a fancy way of saying cocktails to go.

Cocktails to go

Hard-hit restaurants are taking advantage of this by selling pre-made drink kits and bottles of wine to go along with your take-out, but that's the catch — you have to order food along with your drinks. Bill Crowley, a spokesman for the Liquor Authority, told The New York Times that, "... a bag of chips as part of the order would satisfy the mandate." We can gin and bear that. So what do you need to know about cocktails to go?

Rules seem to be pretty consistent from state to state. In California, restaurants must serve the alcohol with sealed lids and no one can have access to these drinks while they are being transported. So with your food order, the Rusty Pelican in Newport Beach, California is selling cocktails like Salty Pear martinis and $22 pitchers of margaritas for pickup or delivery (via Orange County Register). In Miami, at Coyo Taco, you can get a gallon of margaritas delivered along with your favorite tacos to your doorstep by services like Uber Eats, GrubHub, DoorDash, or even curbside pickup (via Miami Herald). And in Seattle, local bars are selling sealed bottles of booze and creating artisan cocktail kits for at-home mixing to add on to your takeout order (via Eater Seattle). 

Boozy drinks to go

For this hard-hit service industry, cocktails to go are not just helping those of us sitting bored on our couches streaming movies — this pop-up service is helping to provide a little pay for restaurant and bar staff. Jeff Bell of Please Don't Tell in New York's East Village told Esquire"... it's going to create a little cushion to keep people on payroll a few more days. Every day, every hour, every dollar counts, so hopefully people are generous with their tips and I can keep a fund going for the staff as a little cushion to get them through to supplement unemployment that they're going to receive once we completely shut down."

And according to the State Liquor Authority in New York, there are no rules to how many drinks you can order, as long as you order it with food (via Democrat & Chronicle). And if you plan to order that many drinks, you probably need the food. So go ahead and order up those rum drinks for your virtual tiki party or those vodka drinks for your James Bond stay-at-home marathon. And in the immortal words of Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World, "Party on!" — but only while you are practicing social distancing.