Lawmaker proposes “cocktails to go” to help restaurants, bars through pandemic

Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 6:25 PM CST
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HOWARD Wis. (WBAY) - A proposal allowing carryout cocktails has been introduced in the state Senate. If passed, restaurants and bars would be allowed to sell alcohol drinks to go via curbside pickup or takeout.

The proposal couldn’t come at a better time for the hospitality industry struggling through the pandemic.

“Because cocktails and drinks in general account for about 30 percent of a typical tab at a restaurant -- and, of course, more at a bar -- providing them an opportunity to still generate revenue through that situation, it can make the difference between them staying afloat or not,” state Rep. David Steffen, a Howard Republican, said.

Steffen, who has been a lead author on this bill, says the drinks would require a tamper-evident seal that would be considered an open intoxicant if broken while driving.

“MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has not been opposed to this legislation, because they understand, as we understand it, as the businesses understand it, that this is an opportunity for people to actually bring those alcoholic beverages home,” Steffen said.

The legislation now has nearly 40 co-sponsors.

A board member of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association hopes this will be an important next step for the recovery of restaurants and bars.

“So if you can’t do that, or you’re not comfortable doing that dine-in yet, this is a great way for restaurants’ people to do that and represent what they do in their home for you at this weird time, which is great,” Becket’s Restaurant owner Kris Larson said.

“The language is ‘cocktails to go,’ but it’s legislation to go, as well,” Steffen said. “I’m expecting this to get done within the next 30 days.”

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