To-go cocktails are a perennial favorite in Massachusetts

Food News

To-go cocktails are here to remain after Gov. Maura Healey made them everlasting Tuesday as a part of a supplemental budget bill that included urgent changes to fund the shelter system.

There is one significant change to the bill that might impact some restaurants' takeout programs: Restaurants will not be allowed to sell wine and beer for take-out consumption, as was permitted throughout the pandemic.

Lawmakers could have viewed this provision of the bill as a compromise between two fighting parties, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association and the Massachusetts Package Stores Association. The former wanted to-go cocktails to stay, saying it helped restaurants stay afloat throughout the COVID-19 lockdown. After the amended bill was approved by the House and Senate, Jessica Muradian, the organization's director of presidency affairs, said they were “grateful” that the choice to make the law everlasting was implemented through the Legislature.

“Our guests have gotten used to ordering takeout,” Muradian said. “Cocktails to-go will continue to help restaurants that have participated in recent years.”

However, the latter organization said it was just one other bill impacting liquor store business, on top of the nationwide ban on flavored tobacco, the ban on mini liquor bottles in select cities and the specter of the net lottery. reached out to the package store's advocacy group but didn’t receive a response in time for publication. But in an earlier conversation with Robert Mellion, the group's executive director, he argued that it was unfair to permit restaurants to sell alcohol for local and off-site consumption while liquor stores were only allowed to do the latter.

Another grievance the organization had against the previous interim law concerned the quantity of alcohol that restaurants were allowed to sell for take-out consumption so long as a customer ordered a food item.

“If it was just a Mai Tai, it would just be one drink, not 64 ounces and 192 ounces of beer and two bottles of wine,” Mellion said.

The recent law not allows 192 ounces of beer and two bottles of wine to be sold off-premises – although a separate, older law says restaurants can re-cork a bottle of wine for diners to take home – but only an institution with a liquor license may proceed to sell as much as 64 ounces of mixed drinks to-go. This corresponds to about eight cups of a mixed drink.

The move to make to-go cocktails everlasting makes Massachusetts the twenty seventh state to have such a law. Other states are considering making similar laws everlasting after the pandemic, in line with a news release from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, which also welcomed the choice by Massachusetts lawmakers.

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