Cocktails-to-go could come back to Pa. bars and restaurants

Written by on March 15, 2022

Cocktails-to-go could come back to Pa. bars and restaurants

By Sam Dunklau / WITF
March 15, 2022

Cocktails-to-go went away when restaurants reopened during COVID-19.(Photo / Pexels)

Pennsylvania bars and restaurants could begin selling customers mixed drinks to-go again if a state Senate proposal is approved.

Food service businesses say they relied on sales from those drinks when the state restricted indoor dining during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Though people can dine at restaurants again, Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association director Chuck Moran says bringing to-go cocktails back would still be helpful:

“The virus is still out there and there is some hesitation by certain customers about going into a restaurant, sitting down and enjoying a meal. So you still have to get past that and then, of course, you don’t know what’s going to happen next winter,” Moran said.

Lawmakers failed to approve the measure when it was up for debate last summer.

State Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) said he and Sen. John Yudichak (I -Carbon/Luzerne) are trying again, and expect broad support:

“Republicans and Democrats that I’ve talked to are aware that this industry was one of the hardest hit, so to speak, during the pandemic and the shutdowns,” Laughlin said. 

Supporters of the first cocktails-to-go bill soured on it when a few Republicans tacked on a measure to legalize canned, or ready-to-drink, cocktails as well.

Laughlin says he’d be OK with legalizing those drinks, but only in a separate bill.

Moran says he opposed the bill after Republicans added an amendment to legalize cocktails in a can.

Democrats also opposed that move, saying canned cocktails would have made it easier to privatize Pennsylvania’s liquor industry.

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