Alcohol ‘to-go’ is legal, has limitations

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – Liquor and wine are set to be available for take-out and delivery, reviving a practice instituted during the pandemic to help struggling restaurants.

Drinks ‘to-go’ are now legal, according to new legislation Governor Hochul announced on Monday.

As part of the FY 2023 state budget, having alcoholic beverages to go has become a law that will be in effect for three years. In a press release, the Governor said that to-go drinks were a critical revenue stream for businesses during the pandemic.

"New York’s nightlife and hospitality industry is second to none, and by allowing the sale of to-go drinks we will continue to support the industry’s recovery from the pandemic," Governor Hochul said. "Cheers to both Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie for their help in making this change, which will drive business for the hospitality industry and be a lifeline, helping them comeback stronger than before."

The new legislation allows, for a period of three years, bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages "to-go" for off-premises consumption under appropriate limitations.

There are a few important limitations to note. The new legislation prohibits sales by the bottle and permits the sale of to-go drinks as long as it is sold with the order of a substantial food item. This is similar to the policy enacted by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The beverage must be in a sealed container and also sold during the county closing hours in effect where the business operates. All to-go containers must comply with municipal open container laws.

The new guidance on the sale of wine and liquor can be found here.

The FY 2023 State Budget also creates the Commission to Study Reform of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, a temporary state commission tasked with analyzing and making recommendations to modernize and simplify the state’s alcohol laws and regulations.

The Commission, consisting of 21 members, will address issues including but not limited to:

The industry’ s economic impact on the state;

– Changes in the law and/or SLA resources to speed license application processing;

– Laws addressing underage consumption; and

– Industry reform and modernization proposals as voted on by industry stakeholders

In addition, the FY 2023 State Budget also includes a number of common-sense changes to modernize the ABC Law, including:

– Allowing liquor stores to be open Christmas day, should they choose;

– Allowing veteran’s organizations, such as Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Posts, to obtain licenses when a police officer serves as an officer of the organization;

– Allowing applicants to provide required notice to their municipality or community board via email, if the municipality or community board elects to accept notice that way; and

– Permitting farm manufacturers more flexibility by allowing food trucks or other such businesses to operate on their premises.

Below is a document issued by the state liquor authority titled "Guidance on Sale of Wine and Liquor To-Go by On Premises Retail Licensees"

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