To-Go Drinks Make Official Comeback in New York

The popular program was instituted during the early days of the first wave of coronavirus cases in 2020.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Attention New Yorkers: to-go cocktails are coming back.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed New York's $220 billion, one-year budget on Saturday, which included the return of a popular program instituted during the early days of the first wave of coronavirus cases in 2020.

Liquor and wine are set to be available for take-out and delivery for three years, as long as the purchase includes a “substantial food item.”

"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," Hochul said Saturday in a statement.

Hochul had announced her intention to include the program in this year's budget during her State of the State address in January.

To-go drinks were one of the few bright spots for bars and restaurants as the state emerged from the early days of lockdown in 2020. The program was in effect until June, when state lawmakers let the emergency regulation expire.

"When the policy abruptly ended last year, it struck a financial blow to their recovery, and New Yorkers were disappointed this popular policy allowing them to have wine delivered to their front door or to pick up a margarita with their takeout food from restaurants was no more," the New York City Hospitality Alliance said in a statement this week.

The group, which supported the measure, said the road through the state legislature "was very difficult, complex, controversial, and required a lot of finesse and negotiation."

Hochul's statement clarifies the program returns with a caveat for consumers and sellers. Included in the law, she says, is a ban on bottles sales in an effort to keep restaurants from competing with liquor stores.

Also new this time around is the requirement that to-go beverages be accompanied by a "substantial food item." In the first months of the 2020 program, most sales of to-go drinks were paired with small snacks, like peanuts or "Cuomo chips."

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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