Arizona lawmakers move to make to-go cocktails permanent

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A policy change brought about during the pandemic to help ailing restaurants and bars could soon become permanent in Arizona.

State Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Gilbert, introduced House Bill 2773 Tuesday. If enacted, it would allow restaurants and bars to sell mixed alcoholic drinks to-go.

The proposal drew praise from local businesses.

“Over the past year the hospitality industry has endured incredible challenges, but one of the bright spots that has emerged is our customers’ embrace of cocktails to-go,” said Matt Fulton, owner of Pigstail and the Whining Pig in Phoenix. “As the industry moves from survival to recovery, cocktails to-go will play a vital role in ensuring Arizona’s place as a culinary and hospitality leader.”

Most states, including the District of Columbia, have allowed a similar provision during the pandemic. Iowa and Ohio’s governors have signed legislation that makes to-go cocktails permanent.

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia, are considering a law to codify the change.

“The path to recovery for Arizona’s hospitality businesses will last long beyond the end of the pandemic, and cocktails to-go has already proven to be a critical part of their survival in many states across the U.S.,” DISCUS Vice President of State Government Relations Adam Smith said. “Making consumer-friendly measures like cocktails to-go permanent provides local bars, restaurants and distilleries with a sustained source of much-needed revenue as they get back on their feet. We applaud Representative Weninger for taking action to create additional convenience for consumers and support hospitality businesses through cocktails to-go.”

Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order in March but a judge invalidated the order for restaurants on Nov. 9 after bar owners sued because they were shut down and pay more for a license to sell liquor when they’re open.

Weninger’s measure is due to be heard in the House Commerce Committee on Feb. 9.

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