In response to the economic impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry, Illinois first allowed cocktails-to-go in June 2020. This law allowed restaurants and bars to provide carryout, curbside pickup, and delivery of mixed drinks and single servings of wine for off-premises consumption. Originally set to expire on January 3, 2024, the state has now extended the cocktails-to-go law until August 1, 2028, allowing for five more years of this practice.
Governor Pritzker officially signed the extension into law on June 9, with the support of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC). The ILCC has expressed its contentment that the Illinois hospitality industry can continue to benefit from the economic boost provided by cocktails-to-go. However, they have also highlighted their responsibility to ensure that to-go cocktails are safely transported and that retailers and consumers can easily comply with the law’s requirements.
The law stipulates several key requirements:
- Cocktails-to-go may only be sold or delivered by an employee of the retail licensee who is at least 21 and has a valid Illinois Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training (BASSET) license.
- Age verification is mandatory for all sales and deliveries of to-go cocktails. If an employee cannot safely verify a customer’s age or intoxication level, the sale must be canceled and the cocktails returned to the retail licensee’s establishment.
- All to-go cocktails must be packaged in a sealed, tamper-evident container. This container must be labeled with the cocktail or mixed drink name and ingredients, the name(s) of the alcohol in the drink, and a statement that the container was filled less than 7 days before the date of sale.
- To-go cocktails must be transported in the trunk of a vehicle or, if the vehicle has no trunk, in a compartment not readily accessible to the passenger area. They may not be transported in the passenger area of a vehicle.
- Third-party delivery services, such as GrubHub and Doordash, are not permitted to deliver cocktails-to-go.
The ILCC reminds the public and qualifying retailer licensees that Illinois law prohibits drivers and passengers from transporting, carrying, or possessing open containers of alcohol in the driver or passenger area of a vehicle. Drunk driving and drinking while driving are also prohibited under Illinois law and can lead to fines, criminal charges, and serious bodily harm.
These cocktail to-go requirements are in place to protect the health and safety of consumers, retail licensee employees, and the Illinois public. The extension of the cocktails-to-go law is a significant decision to support the Illinois hospitality industry while ensuring the safety of the public.