Cocktails-to-go get a second chance after Pa. House vote

Written by on June 25, 2021

Cocktails-to-go get a second chance after Pa. House vote

By Sam Dunklau / WITF
June 25, 2021

Photo by Burst from Pexels

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The state House wants bars and restaurants to be able to sell to-go mixed drinks, but does not want to let grocery stores and beer distributors sell pre-mixed cocktails in a can.

To-go cocktails suddenly became illegal this month when the Republican legislature tossed out the emergency rules that allowed them.

Gov. Tom Wolf says if lawmakers agree, he’ll let to-go drinks start flowing at bars and restaurants again but nowhere else.

That’s a problem for other liquor license holders who want to be able to sell their own type of to-go cocktail, but can’t.

House lawmakers mostly got on board with Wolf, but a few dozen, like Rep. Mike Jones (R-York), say it’s not fair to favor one drink type over another:

“This is actually going to have an unintended consequence of reducing the value of those licenses and actually be detrimental to our bars and restaurants,” Jones says.

Chuck Moran of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association says cocktails-to-go helped many of the 400 bars and restaurants in his group stay open during pandemic lockdowns.

“That was something that was a lifeline during the emergency declaration, it’s something that consumers enjoyed, and it was done safely. People enjoyed these at their homes, on their decks, by their pools. Why not allow that to continue?” Moran says. 

The state Senate will have to weigh in on the bill before it gets in front of Wolf.

If they sign off on it, bars and restaurants will also get to keep their temporary outdoor seating in place.

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