Cocktails-to-go could become permanent in Michigan

Current law expires in 2026
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 5:48 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A tool to help restaurants stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic could soon be here to stay for good.

June 2020: Michigan Legislature OKs cocktails to go to boost businesses

Lawmakers are considering permanently allowing restaurants and bars to sell alcoholic cocktails with take-out orders. The current law expires on January 1, 2026.

While many businesses are hoping this will still be an option forever, some would like to see things go back to how things were before the pandemic.

“A lot of things that have happened in COVID are here to stay,” said Victor Preston, Preston’s Bar owner.

Preston’s family has owned the Grand Ledge bar for generations, but he’s never served a drink to-go, despite being allowed to after the law changed in 2020 to help restaurants during stay-home orders.

“We’d kind of like them to stick around and have a couple,” said Preston.

Since July 2020, restaurants have been able to serve cocktails for carryout if they are in sealed containers.

John McNamara, Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association’s Vice President, Government Affairs, said it’s become very popular across the state since.

“This is just sort of another tool in the toolbox for restaurants to continue to use. Obviously popular during COVID but has proven very popular in a post-COVID world,” said McNamara.

McNamara said it’s important to expand the law permanently because people’s dining habits have changed because of COVID.

“Some people still aren’t quite safe dining out. They’re still unsure about it. So this allows them to still go get their favorite food, add some cocktails on to go, take those home,” said McNamara.

Preston said he’d consider selling cocktails with carryout orders if the law is changed.

“We’d have to kind of run with it for a little while, a couple of months, and actually see what happens and how it affected the business,” said Preston.

The proposal is now in the House for consideration when members return from spring break in a couple of weeks. It passed the Senate nearly unanimously last week.

Michigan is one of 12 states temporarily allowing cocktails-to-go.

There are 18 states and Washington, D.C. that have made the sales permanent.

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