New York State Abruptly Ends To-Go Cocktails

On June 24, New York State ended its COVID-19 emergency declaration that began last March 2020, which means all associated executive orders have also come to an end—namely, the popular provision that allowed for to-go and delivery cocktails.

This is a rapid about-face as the NYS Liquor Authority had tweeted as recently as June 6 saying to-go, delivery, and outdoor dining guidance had been extended to July 5.

The full statement from the NYS Liquor Authority says:


“The Governor today announced that the emergency declaration that began last March will expire after June 24; as a result, all associated executive orders will be extinguished at that time.
This will mean the end of the temporary to-go and delivery privileges for bars, restaurants, and manufacturers, and the resumption of those privileges only as they exist under the law, e.g., on premises retailers may sell beer, cider, and mead to go or for delivery, and manufacturers may generally make sales only to persons physically at the premises.
With regard to temporary extensions of the licensed premises on to municipal property, there is a legislative bill pending consideration.  In view of that, the Authority intends to extend a safe harbor to licensees that are currently operating on municipal land that is part of a municipal plan that has been approved by the Authority.”

This has left many bars and restaurants scrambling, as they have come to depend on to-go alcohol as an additional revenue source.

Ghost Kitchen manhattan
Bottled Cocktails from Ghost Bar.

The announcement has even shut some bars down completely, including Ghost Bar, a New York City establishment we’ve written about in the past. Ghost Bar has a business model based entirely on to-go cocktails, and it now has a message streaming across its site saying, “Due to the abrupt New York State announcement ending the delivery of cocktails, as of June 24, 2021, we will be suspending our service.”

The move comes at a time when many states are permanently legalizing to-go cocktails or extending the laws allowing the practice.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there was a bill in New York State Legislature that would have allowed restaurants to include up to two alcoholic drinks with each entree they serve for pickup or delivery. However, it failed to advance thanks to opposition by liquor store lobbyists.

The NYC Hospitality Alliance said in a statement, “The state legislature unfortunately did not vote on a bill that would have provided a temporary one-year extension of alcohol to-go, because it was the subject of a massive opposition campaign by New York’s package and liquor store associations and elected officials. Nonetheless, we will continue to advocate for the return of this popular and important policy next legislative session.”