How about a Mason jar of margarita with your taco order? Or a bottle of martini with that beef rib takeout? The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced Wednesday that bars and restaurants across the state can now sell cocktails to-go as long as food is purchased with the drink order.
The surprise announcement is expected to put many cocktail bars in Seattle back in business. Canon, Seattle’s most celebrated cocktail den, is now buying to-go containers to start rolling out classics and its signature mixed drinks. “This will definitely help pay the rent,” said Canon owner Jamie Boudreau.
Boudreau, like many bar owners across the city, has been a frequent critic of the state for not allowing bars to sell cocktails to-go in similar fashion to how restaurants are allowed to offer takeout and delivery food during a stay-home order that has shut down bars and some restaurants.
In other states, New York, California and Texas among them, bars have been allowed to sell cocktails to-go, a move designed to level the playing field.
Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, bars in Washington state could only hawk “cocktail kits,” with a factory-sealed liquor bottle along with bags of juice, syrups and other cocktail ingredients. Customers then mixed the cocktails at home.
In West Seattle, Lady Jaye bar restaurant is rushing to buy a bottlecap machine so that the bar can start selling bottled cocktails. Lady Jaye owner Evan Carter projects the smokehouse restaurant will make 30% more selling cocktails to-go instead of cocktail kits.
Under the new law, the purchased cocktail must be sealed and placed “in the trunk of the vehicle or beyond the immediate reach of the driver.”
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the influential booze advocacy group that has been lobbying to get states to allow spirits and cocktails to-go, praised the decision. “The opportunity for Washington’s restaurants to sell mixed drinks for carry-out will be a valuable economic lifeline during this pandemic. This critical revenue stream will help support struggling hospitality industry workers.”