Will ‘to-go cocktails’ become a permanent thing in Pennsylvania?

Stacy Wescoe//May 5, 2021

Will ‘to-go cocktails’ become a permanent thing in Pennsylvania?

Stacy Wescoe//May 5, 2021

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is hailing a bill that has just passed out of committee in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The bill, HB 1154, would make the to-go cocktail a permanent offering in the state.

Before COVID-19 Pennsylvania banned the sale of to-go cocktails, which are allowed in some other states. All mixed spirits had to be consumed where they were sold.

During the pandemic, Pennsylvania was one of 30 states that lifted many of its previous restrictions on alcohol sales, including to-go cocktails, to open a new source of revenue for struggling bars and restaurants.

The measure was supposed to be temporary, however, the council said making it permanent will bring convenience to consumers in the state.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated Pennsylvania’s hospitality businesses, and it will take years for them to fully recover,” said David Wojnar, senior vice president and head of state public policy for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. “Cocktails to-go has proven to be a vital part of survival during COVID-19 for Pennsylvania businesses, and making this measure permanent will only provide increased stability in the future.”

Wojnar noted that Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Montana, Arkansas, West Virginia and the District of Columbia have all made COVID-era cocktails to-go measures permanent.  He hopes the legislature will approve the bill and follow suit.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Kurt Masser, R-Northumberland County, who said the boost from the extra revenue source is still needed.

“My legislation is needed to make this change permanent, he said.  “Making this initiative permanent will provide our bars and restaurants with a needed option to continue to make up funds that they lost during this crisis.”

The bill, which was backed primarily by house Republicans, was also co-sponsored by Allentown Democrat, Rep. Peter Schweyer.