Texas legislature approves bill making alcohol to-go permanent
UPDATE: Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1024 into law on Wednesday, May 12, which permanently allows beer, wine and mixed drinks to be included in pickup and delivery food orders.
Texas restaurants will be able to sell beer, wine, and cocktails to-go forever. With a vote of 30-1, the Texas Senate approved HB 1024, which codifies Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency waiver that allowed restaurants to sell beer, wine, and cocktails with pickup and delivery food orders.
Since June 2020, restaurants have been allowed to sell alcoholic beverages provided they complied with certain packaging requirements. Being able to sell alcohol to-go became an important source of revenue for restaurants as they operated under capacity limits and other restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Abbott has been an advocate for the legislation, which was supported by both the Texas Restaurant Association and the Texas Package Stores Association. Over 30 states already allow bars and/or restaurants to sell alcohol to-go.
“Bars and restaurants in Texas have leaned on cocktails to-go throughout the pandemic as a lifeline to keep their doors open and generate revenue,” said Kristi Brown, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States senior director of state government relations, in a statement. “Now, the legislature has taken action to make this critical measure permanent and provide long-term support for Texas businesses. We thank Governor Abbott for being a vocal supporter of cocktails to-go and encourage him to sign this bill as soon as possible and make the business- and consumer-friendly measure permanent in Texas.”
In anticipation that the measure would pass, restaurants have begun incorporating the ability to sell cocktails to-go into their business plans for future projects. James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd cited it as one reason he selected downtown's Market Square Tower as the future home of Georgia James Tavern.
“We can offer things to the residents that I look at and say this could work really well,” Shepherd said in January. “If you’re going to the pool, here’s a couple of bottled cocktails to-go.”