To-Go Cocktails Will Keep Flowing in Washington State With Law Extended Into 2023

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Remember last May? It's OK, nobody really does — but that's when the restaurant industry's struggle to survive the COVID-19 era, combined with patrons thirsty for something to go with their takeout, prompted the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to temporarily allow the sale of carry-out cocktails.

Now, to-go cocktails aren't going away anytime soon. On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a bill that "codifies, temporarily, liquor license privileges similar to allowances that the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) is providing to licensees during the COVID-19 pandemic," namely, "curbside and takeout service or delivery of alcohol products, the sale by restaurants of premixed cocktails, cocktail kits, and wine drinks, and the sale of growlers."

This carry-out cocktail codification extends until summer 2023, if not beyond — the LCB will also assess the impact of to-go drinks via an independent study.

At the official signing, Inslee said the measure "will help boost sales that these licensees typically depend on to thrive, and will offer stability to an industry that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic."

The sale of carry-out cocktails still requires the purchase of a complete meal. However, the new legislation includes a little piggyback that should be of interest to the restaurant industry: It directs the LCB to consider revising a rule that certain businesses must provide a full menu of eight complete meals alongside liquor sales, with the objective of "greater flexibility for food service requirements for liquor licensees" — potentially good news for owners who find the current requirement onerous.

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