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The Bill To Make Takeout Cocktails Permanent Is Waiting For The Governor To Say Cheers

a variety of fruit-filled cocktails in clear glasses with twisty straws
The COVID-era of cocktails-to-go may become permanent.
(Kaizen Nguyen/Unsplash)
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A state bill that would allow restaurants and other establishments to sell takeout alcoholic drinks has landed on Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk and is awaiting his signature.

Newsom has until Oct. 14 to sign AB 389, which allows any licensed "eating place," as well as any beer manufacturer, wine manufacturer or craft distiller that prepares and serves food on-site, to sell booze to go — as long as customers buy it with food.

The bill, which applies to beer, wine, liquor and mixed drinks, was introduced by State Senator Bill Dodd from Northern California. A spokesperson for Dodd says the senator is optimistic Newsom will sign AB 389.

Takeout alcohol sales have been a boon for many restaurants struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. Restaurant owners have pushed to keep them in place. Given the governor's public support of these measures, they're likely to get their wish.

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If passed, AB 389 would go into effect on Jan 1, 2022. However, since many establishments have already been selling takeout alcoholic drinks under temporary regulations, this bill won't change much. It will only make permanent some of the loosened restrictions on alcohol sales that were enacted during early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March 2020, hoping to help struggling businesses that could no longer offer on-site service, California issued a temporary order making it easier for dining and drinking establishments to sell takeout alcohol.

In early June, Newsom extended the order, which originally had no end date, through the rest of 2021.

cocktails in glasses
(Brooke Lark/Unsplash)

Here are the details of AB 389:

  • Takeout alcoholic beverages must be sold with "a bona fide meal" and are limited to two drinks per meal.
  • Takeout drinks must be sold in the manufacturer's prepackaged containers or in containers with secure lids or sealed caps.
  • Takeout cocktails can't contain more than 4.5 ounces of liquor.
  • Takeout wine can only be sold in single-serve containers.
  • All takeout alcohol containers must be clearly labeled as containing alcohol.

AB 389 would expire in five years although legislators can — and often do — extend such bills.

"Restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic, and the ability to sell carry-out cocktails has been critical to ensuring they can survive," Dodd said recently. "Making this permanent will ensure their recovery, protecting jobs and our economy."

AB 389's co-authors include two locals: Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens and Laura Friedman of Glendale.

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