Legislation Authorizes Sale of Alcoholic Beverages 'To-Go' for Off-Premises Consumption for Three Years
Budget Creates a Temporary State Commission to Examine Reforms to Modernize the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law in New York State
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that legislation allowing takeout drinks has become law as part of the FY 2023 State Budget. To-go drinks were a critical revenue stream for New York's bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping many small businesses across the state pay their rent or mortgages. This legislation allows, for a period of three years, bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages "to-go" for off-premises consumption under appropriate limitations.
"New York’s nightlife and hospitality industry is second to none, and by allowing the sale of to-go drinks we will continue to support the industry’s recovery from the pandemic," Governor Hochul said. "Cheers to both Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie for their help in making this change, which will drive business for the hospitality industry and be a lifeline, helping them comeback stronger than before.”
The new policy addresses the concerns of small business owners operating liquor stores by prohibiting bottle sales and requiring food orders and sealed containers. Additionally, concerns of public consumption are addressed by making clear in the law that all to-go containers must comply with municipal open container laws. The Enacted Budget also calls for a comprehensive look at all Alcohol and Beverage Control laws and creates a review commission to report on recommended improvements for businesses and consumers.
This legislation amends the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law to authorize restaurants and bars licensed to sell liquor or wine for on-premises consumption to also sell these products for off-premises consumption. The legislation, which prohibits sales by the bottle, permits the sale of drinks to-go with the order of a substantial food item, provided the alcoholic beverage is sold in a sealed container and sold during the county closing hours in effect where the business operates. Additionally, the licensee, or the agent or employee of the licensee making the delivery, will also be responsible for ensuring the consumer has a valid ID and for verifying the consumer’s identity and age at the time of delivery.
The FY 2023 State Budget also creates the Commission to Study Reform of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, a temporary state commission tasked with analyzing and making recommendations to modernize and simplify the state’s alcohol laws and regulations. The Commission will address issues including but not limited to:
- The industry’s economic impact on the state;
- Changes in the law and/or SLA resources to speed license application processing;
- Laws addressing underage consumption; and
- Industry reform and modernization proposals as voted on by industry stakeholders.
This commission will consist of 21 members, including the Chairman of the State Liquor Authority who shall serve as the Chair of the Commission, the Commissioner of the Department of Tax and Finance or their representative, the Superintendent of the State Police or their representative, the Director of the Division of the Budget or their representative, the Chief Executive Officer of the Empire State Development or their representative, and 16 additional members appointed by the Governor and Legislature. A report from the Commission shall be issued no later than May 1, 2023.
In addition, the FY 2023 State Budget also includes a number of common-sense changes to modernize the ABC Law, including:
- Allowing liquor stores to be open Christmas day, should they choose;
- Allowing veteran’s organizations, such as Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Posts, to obtain licenses when a police officer serves as an officer of the organization;
- Allowing applicants to provide required notice to their municipality or community board via email, if the municipality or community board elects to accept notice that way; and
- Permitting farm manufacturers more flexibility by allowing food trucks or other such businesses to operate on their premises.