Wolf signs bill allowing ‘cocktails-to-go’ from bars, restaurants

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Governor Tom Wolf has signed House Bill 327 allowing the temporary sale of cocktails-to-go from bars, restaurants, or hotels with a liquor license. The law takes effect immediately.

The law applies to bars, restaurants and hotels that have lost 25 percent of average monthly total sales during the COVID-19 emergency. The beverages must be sold in containers with a secure lid in quantities from 4 oz. to 64 oz. before 11 p.m.

An additional seal is required on the straw opening of a lid. Within 60 days, bars and restaurants must use a transaction scan device to verify a consumer’s age if the person appears to be younger than 35 years of age.

The guidance issued today by the PLCB regarding drinks to go, which will inform enforcement efforts by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, is summarized below.

  • Only hotel and restaurant licensees selling meals to go and meeting the 25% sales impact threshold are authorized to sell drinks to go.
  • Each prepared beverage and mixed drink sold to consumers must be between four and 64 ounces and include liquor and at least one mixer combined on the licensed premises. 
  • Licensees may not sell to go:
    • Mixed drinks containing wine or beer
    • Unopened bottles of liquor
    • Gallon jugs of cocktails
    • Unopened ready-to-drink prepackaged cocktails
    • Straight liquor
  • Drinks to go may not be consumed on the licensed premises and must be sold in sealed containers with secure lids or caps designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap. A lid with sipping or straw holes must be covered or affixed with an additional seal before sale.
  • Licensees can sell drinks to go from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM, Monday through Saturday, and from 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM on Sundays if the licensee has a Sunday sales permit.
  • There is no limit to the number of drinks-to-go a person can purchase at a time, and purchase of a meal is not required in order to buy drinks to go.
  • Drinks-to-go may not be delivered.
  • Within the next 60 days, any licensee selling drinks to go must begin to use a transaction scan device to verify the age of anyone appearing under 35 years of age before making a sale.
  • Retail licensees not permitted to sell drinks to go include clubs and catering clubs; any licensee whose license was objected to through the Nuisance Bar program; any licensee whose license is suspended or in safekeeping; and any licensee previously suspended under the Licensee Compliance program.

The new law also permits qualifying hotel and restaurant licensees to temporarily sell liquor (not wine or beer) to each other. Licensees selling liquor to other qualifying licensees must report those sales to the PLCB within seven days of each sale.

Pennsylvanians are reminded it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol while in a vehicle, and open containers may only be transported in a vehicle’s trunk or some other area of the vehicle not occupied by the driver or passengers.

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Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

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