Happy Hour To-Go?

New legislation provides bars and restaurants a tool to generate income during the pandemic.

by J. Logan Block, Quinn Johnston
COVID-19 has challenged restaurants to find new approaches.
While the new law is set to expire on June 2, 2021, legislators have indicated they would like to see it made permanent. Only time will tell.

Restaurant and bar owners have found it necessary to get creative to combat the economic fallout from COVID-19. While we have seen some of our favorite establishments implement or expand food delivery services, many are still figuring out how to mitigate decreased sales of alcoholic beverages.

Recently, Governor Pritzker formally signed off on the sale of cocktails for pickup and delivery across Illinois. The Illinois House and Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure in May, amending the Illinois Liquor Control Act to include the “Delivery and Carry Out of Mixed Drinks” (235 ILCS 5/6-28.8). The legislation provides bars and restaurants—which have been among the businesses hardest hit—with a vital tool to bring in additional income during the pandemic. The law, however, comes with many restrictions.

Cocktails or mixed drinks for delivery or carryout must be placed in a sealed container by a retail licensee at the licensee’s location before it is transferred and sold for off-premise consumption. In particular, the lid must be “tamper-evident”; in other words, it must be sealed with tamper-evident covers, such as wax dip or heat shrink wrap. A label or tag must be affixed to the sealed container stating the ingredients, type and name of alcohol; the name, license number and address of the retail licensee that filled the container and sold the product; and the volume of the cocktail or mixed drink. The container must be filled and sealed within seven days prior to the date of sale.

The employee delivering the cocktail or mixed drink must wear gloves and a mask and maintain social distancing when interacting with the purchasing customer. The to-go cocktail can be transferred within the licensed premises, by curbside pickup or delivery. For restaurants and bars offering delivery service, cocktails can only be delivered by an employee who is at least 21 years of age and is Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training (BASSET) certified. Before delivery, the sealed container must be placed in the trunk of the vehicle, or if there is no trunk, in the vehicle’s rear compartment that is not readily accessible to the passenger area.

Upon delivery, the age of the person to whom the cocktail is being delivered must be verified. Should the employee delivering the cocktail not be able to verify a person’s age or level of intoxication, they are required to cancel the sale and return the drink to the retail license holder. The new law does not permit third-party delivery services (like Grubhub or DoorDash) to deliver cocktails or mixed drinks, but they can still deliver beer and wine.

While this new law is set to expire on June 2, 2021, legislators discussing the measure on the House floor have indicated they would like to see it made permanent. Only time will tell. PM

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