Wisconsin Gov. Evers signs cocktails-to-go bill into law

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 1:16 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 26, 2021 at 9:16 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin residents will now be able to legally order cocktails to go. Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed the bill Friday. The Tavern League of Wisconsin first announced the news.

The law allows businesses with a Class B liquor license to sell liquor to go. Taverns and restaurants are often under a Class B license.

“It’s long overdue for our bars and restaurants,” said state Rep. David Steffen (R-Howard), a co-author of the bill.

It’s been a year of transformation for restaurants like Margarita’s, which are finally starting to see businesses bounce back from shutdowns due to the pandemic.

“The hospitality industry has been hit the worst. Sales going down 30-70 percent, many many businesses just going out of business and closing their doors never to reopen,” said Peter Madland, executive director of the Tavern League of Wisconsin.

“It’s actually now kind of gotten to the point where we’re still seeing a lot of takeout, curbside and delivery, but the restaurant is picking up significantly, too,” said Tim Kuehn, owner of Margarita’s.

Kuehn started working with Rep. Steffen last April to help struggling taverns.

“We had a lot of front line workers going, is there any way we can get our favorite drink to go, because we just don’t feel comfortable dining out,” said Kuehn.

“Margarita’s restaurant actually put this into play and it’s a great example of trying to be responsive to the actual businesses and have them take a lead on a solution that’s going to benefit the entire industry,” said Rep. Steffen.

The legislation reads, “This bill allows certain alcohol beverage retailers to sell intoxicating liquor by the glass for consumption away from the licensed premises if the retailer seals the container of intoxicating liquor with a tamper-evident seal before the intoxicating liquor is removed from the premises.”

Tamper-evident seal means “a device or material that is used to securely and fully close off a container.” There can be no perforations.

The Tavern League of Wisconsin thanked Gov. Evers, bill sponsors Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay) and Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and the lawmakers who passed it.

Supporters say the law will help businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated Wisconsin’s hospitality businesses, and it will take years for them to fully recover,” said Kristi Brown, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Senior Director of State Government Relations. “Wisconsin businesses have been hit particularly hard, and it is well past time they receive some relief. Cocktails to-go provides certainty and stability for Wisconsin’s restaurants and taverns while increasing convenience for consumers.”

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