WA lawmakers OK to-go cocktails, curbside beer pickup to 2023

Takeaway cocktails, roadside beer pickups and alcohol deliveries will remain in Washington state for two more years under a bill signed by Governor Jay Inslee.

The bill, submitted to legislature by the Liquor and Cannabis Board and passed with the support of both parties, provides a temporary rule change to strengthen bars and restaurants in the early days of the pandemic when they relied solely on takeout.

Under House Bill 1480, full-service restaurants – those licensed for liquor, beer, and wine – can sell cocktails in sealed containers to take away, including roadside pickup and delivery. You can also sell cocktail kits with 50-milliliter minis and wine by the glass. A recipient aged 21 and over must sign for the delivery.

Breweries, wineries and distilleries can continue to offer roadside pickup and delivery of their retail packaged goods, including growers, which they couldn’t do before the pandemic.

These permissions apply to caterers, snack bars, and nonprofit art companies that have licenses for liquor.

Originally brought to the floor of the house in late January, various iterations of the bill proposed ending the allowance a year earlier.

The allowance is not automatic as license holders have to apply for an endorsement through the alcohol authorities. About half of them will want this privilege, according to the legislature’s financial report.

As of January 2022, the Alcohol Board will have to call in an outside agency to investigate the effects of take-away alcohol, e.g. B. the effects on drinking of minors and alcohol-related health or traffic disorders. Depending on that data, Brian Smith, the agency’s communications director, said it was possible that lawmakers would pursue a more permanent law.

Bill sponsor, Rep. Drew MacEwen of Union, said Washington as a state is conservative when it comes to controlling alcohol. Nobody wants society to become more dangerous, he said, but he hopes the study shows businesses and consumers will act responsibly.

Perhaps to allay those fears, the bill will exclude an element of the LCB pandemic allowances.

When bars and restaurants closed last spring for initial lockdowns, the agency moved quickly to support the industry by temporarily allowing the retail sale of liquor bottles with a food purchase. Countless restaurants seized the opportunity and created, for example, margarita kits with freshly squeezed juice bottles that were sold with a full 750 milliliter bottle of tequila.

HB 1480 replaces that rule, Smith said. The establishments can continue to sell batch take-away cocktails, for example in a container that can be used to make four drinks at home.

“When it comes to our problems, there will always be people on both sides,” he said. While those training against drunk driving and some law enforcement officers “are not in favor of expanding alcohol availability, there are others who thought this bill was a good move”.

The Liquor and Cannabis Board sees this as a positive step.

The bill also calls on the agency to reassess its rules on alcohol service in outdoor seating that has increased due to pandemic restrictions, as well as its food needs. Since last summer, taprooms and tasting rooms, which are not normally used for serving food, have been forced to bring “essential” groceries to accommodate guests in the house. This restriction was recently lifted so that, for example, placing a food truck on site would meet the requirement.

“These temporary allowances have been a lifeline for many breweries who need a little flexibility during the pandemic,” said Anne McGrath. She added that the additional takeaway beer receipts helped restaurants, breweries and their vendors as they drank on-site.

Where elected officials are

HB 1480 was passed with strong support from both parties: only 12 representatives from both parties voted no in the House of Representatives, followed by only three in the Senate. Inslee signed it last Thursday, April 15th.

Two of the lawmakers who voted no, Rep. Timm Ormsby of Spokane and Senator Jeannie Darneille of Tacoma, both Democrats, told McClatchy they were concerned about expanding access to alcohol.

Ormsby, who originally co-sponsored the bill, said he initially supported an attempt to maintain a stopgap solution for LCB and companies. However, he later learned of the roadside delivery expansion and other issues of concern.

He was “not interested in thwarting the success of companies that are badly affected,” he said in a telephone interview, but “not looking for ways to increase consumption, especially by individuals in their own homes.” Concern about the exacerbation of the substance use disorder.

Darneille said she belongs to a group of lawmakers historically concerned about expanding access to alcohol products and generally normalizing access.

As chair of the Human Services, Reentration and Rehabilitation Committee, Darneille said she saw the effects of addiction on families and children. She also pointed to the lack of a corresponding improvement in access to recovery programs.

“This must be recognized as a causal force in many of the problems that desperately and negatively affect children in our state,” said Darneille.

MacEwen came up on the matter as a partner on some restaurants and top Republicans on the House Commerce and Gaming Committee. He told McClatchy he had a front row seat because of the effects of the pandemic.

A handful of bipartisan lawmakers are fundamentally opposed to expanding access or flexibility when it comes to alcohol, MacEwen said – – It’s not a partisan issue and he respects the position.

The city of Tacoma was one of the original proponents of the cocktail-to-go movement last spring. Councilor Robert Thoms and Mayor Victoria Woodards called for the “Common Sense Allowances”.

In a statement while HB 1480 waited for Inslee’s signature, Woodards said the flexibility has so far helped companies “recoup some investments in products that are on their shelves.”

Now that it’s official by 2023, she said, “We sincerely hope that during this time we can use information to learn how these rules are permanent and help our local industries provide the craft products that customers want. “

Kristine Sherred joined The News Tribune in December 2019 after working for a decade in Chicago for restaurants, a liquor wholesaler, and a culinary bookstore. She previously worked in the grocery store for Industry Dive and William Reed. Find her on Instagram @kcsherred and Twitter @kriscarasher.

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