Off-Premise Alcohol Sales: What Restaurants & Bars Need to Know about Cocktails-to-Go and Liquor Delivery

The pandemic has shifted a lot of business, forcing many industries to change. For many years, there have been strict rules and regulations tied to selling alcohol in the U.S. The restaurant and bar industries have had to go through complicated processes to receive a liquor license, which can dictate when, where, and how they can serve alcohol. Yet, when COVID-19 hit earlier this year, lawmakers chose to ease restrictions on off-premise alcohol sales and alcohol delivery services. In many cases, restaurants and bars were allowed to sell alcohol without takeout meals and even offer liquor delivery service for the first time.

Consumers did their bit to keep small businesses alive in the pandemic, supporting local and mom-and-pop cafes and restaurants. Although consumers could have purchased alcohol from liquor stores, most don’t carry the private labels that restaurants do. This gave way to restaurants and bars providing a product that consumers could not find elsewhere.

What are the rules for off-premise alcohol sales?

While the rules and regulations for off-premise alcohol sales vary from state to state, city to city, and even week by week, there are some common trends that are emerging. Here is the latest for New York:

  • New York became the first state to allow bars and restaurants to sell alcohol, including cocktails, for off-premise consumption.
  • The temporary licensing laws will remain until the state determines that normal business operations can resume.
  • On-premise sales are permitted, dependent on the region phase for the percentage allowed for indoor dining.
  • Restaurants are permitted to offer alcohol delivery.
  • Restaurants are permitted to offer alcohol delivery through a third party.
  • Food purchase is required.

Off-premise alcohol sales can help your business make it through tough times.


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