Dec 21, 2020 - COVID

To-go cocktails now allowed in North Carolina


Dot Dot Dot cocktails. (Photo taken pre-pandemic.)

Governor Cooper announced a new executive order Monday that allows restaurants and bars to sell to-go cocktails, marking the end of a seven-month-long debate.

Why it matters: The pandemic has caused huge drops in revenue and many permanent closures. Capacity restrictions and curfew aren’t all to blame; many diners just feel less comfortable dining out right now. For this reason, N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association CEO Lynn Minges says, to-go cocktails will be a “lifesaver.”

  • Dot Dot Dot owner Stefan Huebner says the additional revenue to-go cocktails could bring is one upside, but more than that, it’s about giving diners what they want. “People are wanting to drink better at home,” he says.

Background: More than 30 states have passed similar measures since the spring, and early in the pandemic, lawmakers in Raleigh pushed for a bill that would allow restaurants to sell to-go mixed beverages in closed containers. The North Carolina senate shot it down. This time Minges and other industry leaders turned to the governor’s office to step in.

“This order will help people avoid settings that can contribute to increased viral spread while giving restaurants and bars a financial boost that they need right now,” said Governor Cooper in a statement. “With cases and hospitalizations high around the country, let’s all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 while supporting local, small businesses safely.”

Cooper’s executive order is a temporary measure that goes into effect December 21 at 5 p.m. and continues at least until January 31, 2021. Here are the details:

  • It allows restaurants, bars, hotels, distilleries, and nightclubs to sell to-go cocktails.
  • Only one drink per person, and you must be at least 21. If you want to buy in bulk, try a cocktail kit.
  • Must be in a sealed container at all times in transit – this goes for pick-up and delivery.
  • The statewide curfew does not apply to grabbing to-go cocktails, just like takeout food is also exempt.
  • You don’t need to order food with your to-go cocktail.

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