COVID-19 Restaurant Resourcesby
While COVID-19 has dealt the restaurant industry a lot of blows, one positive to come out of the pandemic is the rise of alcohol delivery. Designed to soften the economic blow to restaurants and provide consumers with a sense of normalcy in uncertain times, some states and provinces have loosened their alcohol delivery laws and begun allowing restaurants to sell alcohol to go.
Of course, these rules differ considerably across North America and change frequently. While states like Iowa, Ohio, and Oklahoma have made alcohol delivery permanent, other states have made no changes to their liquor laws. The same is true in Canada, with provinces such as Ontario and Manitoba making the change permanent, while places like British Columbia simply continue to extend temporary orders.
Though red tape may still be an issue in some places, looser alcohol delivery laws have given restaurants a valuable income stream at a time when every dollar counts. And with simple tools like TouchBistro Online Ordering, offering alcohol delivery is easier than ever before.
To help your restaurant navigate changing liquor laws and the new world of alcohol delivery, we’ll cover:
Early on in the pandemic, many states and municipalities were quick to relax delivering alcohol laws in light of the economic blow to the restaurant industry. Though many restaurants consider this a positive move, the different rules from state to state continue to cause confusion around what restaurants can and cannot do.
Below, we break down the changes to state alcohol delivery laws in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic..
Note: This list is current as of January 25, 2021. Please check with your current local ordinances before offering alcohol delivery or takeout.
In March of 2020, the Alabama Beverage Commission (ABC) authorized restaurants and bars to sell alcohol to go. This order was then pulled back on September 15, 2020, as COVID-19 case numbers began to fall.
On December 14, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Board announced it would once again allow alcohol delivery and pickup from restaurants over the holidays. However, this emergency ruling expired on January 4, 2021.
For the latest updates on alcohol delivery in Alabama, check the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board’s website.
In April of 2020, Alaska’s alcohol board has approved new rules allowing restaurants to deliver beer and wine alongside food deliveries. The new ruling came with several restrictions, including the fact that third-party delivery services like DoorDash or UberEats are not permitted to deliver alcohol.
On Friday, March 20, 2020, the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control implemented Governor Ducey’s Executive Order allowing restaurants to offer alcohol for sale with delivery and takeout orders. Under this new rule, restaurant licensees were able to temporarily sell alcohol through delivery, pickup, and curbside service, provided that the beverages are in sealed containers.
However, part of Gov. Ducey’s executive order was struck down and restaurants with a series 12 liquor license (a “restaurant” license), were no longer permitted to sell alcohol to go.
As of January 2021, retail delivery of liquor is only permitted by bars (series 6 license), beer and wine bars (series 7 licenses), liquor stores (series 9 license), and beer and wine stores (series 10 license).
Check Arizona’s Department of Liquor for the latest alcohol delivery rules.
On Thursday, March 19, 2020, the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control issued a temporary rule allowing restaurants and microbreweries to sell beer and wine for off-site consumption for the next 30 days.
These temporary rules appear to have since expired.
Check with the Arkansas’s Alcoholc Beverage Control for the lastest alcohol delivery and takeaway guidelines.
As of March 20, 2020, all restaurants in California were permitted to sell beer, wine, and pre-mixed drinks or cocktails for pickup or delivery, provided the drinks have a secure cap or lid (i.e. no openings for straws). Alcoholic beverages must also be sold in conjunction with meals.
Any restaurant taking advantage of the new measures is also required to post a notice – either on the premises or online – that puts consumers on notice of limitations regarding open container laws. A printable version of the required notice can be found here.
As of January 2021, all licensed California businesses were still permitted to sell beer, wine, premixed drinks, or cocktails for pickup and delivery. You can check with California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control for the latest updates.
In Colorado, restaurants are now able to deliver alcohol with food or sell it with takeout orders. This includes beer, wine, liquor, and mixed drinks. However, breweries or distillery pubs may not provide mixed drinks – only products manufactured on-site.
The temporary measure was passed by Colorado Governor Jared Polis and it stipulates that alcoholic beverages must be served in sealed containers.
In July of 2020, Governor Polis signed a bill into law that allows restaurants to continue selling and deliver alcoholic beverages until July 2021. Check Colorado’s Liquor Enforcement Laws, Rules, and Regulations for further details and updates.
In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont signed an Executive Order allowing restaurants, bars, and breweries to start delivering alcohol. The order only applies to sealed liquor and does not permit the sale of cocktails made in house.
In November of 2020, Governor Lamont extended the previously enacted provisions regarding alcohol to go and other provisions through February 9, 2021. The latest updates are available from Connecticut’s Liquor Control Division.
Two days after Delaware Governor John Carney shut down restaurants for dine-in service on March 16, 2020, he permitted restaurants, brewpubs, taverns, and taprooms to sell alcohol to go, including cocktails.
In June of 2020, a bill was signed into law allowing restaurants to continue to sell alcoholic beverages for take-out, curbside or drive-through service through March 2021. It’s important to note that House Amendment 1 removed the requirements that takeout, curbside, or drive-thru orders needed to include complete meals, and that the cost for alcoholic beverages could not exceed 40% of the licensee’s total sales transactions.
For further updates, check with Delaware’s Office of ABC.
Following the lead of other states, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he would allow restaurants to deliver alcohol in sealed containers for off-premises consumption. Under Executive Order Number 20-71, alcohol must be ordered alongside food and anyone getting alcohol delivered will be required to show valid ID.
In December of 2020, new proposals were filed that aimed to make previous emergency orders permanent and permit any business with an alcohol license to continue selling packaged alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption. If passed in the March 2021 legislative session, the new bill would take effect by July, and Florida restaurant-bars would be permitted to sell sealed containers of cocktails and spirits to-go with any food order.
To stay up to date on Florida’s alcohol delivery laws, check with Florida’s Division of Alcohol and Tobacco.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia has permitted the sale of alcoholic beverages via carry-out, drive-in window, online sales, or curbside delivery/pickup as long as the venue is in compliance with Georgia Revenue Regulations 560-2-3-.03, 560-2-3-.09, and 560-2-3-.15 (details of which can be found here). It’s important to note that under these rules, licensees are prohibited from selling distilled spirits.
The latest updates on alcohol delivery laws in Georgia are available from Georgia’s Alcohol & Tobacco Laws & Regulations.
In April of 2020, Hawaii restaurants were permitted to begin selling beer, wine and pre-packaged cocktails for takeout, pick-up and delivery. As part of the order, restaurants must have a liquor license. As of January 2021, these rules were still in effect.
Check Hawaii’s Department of Liquor Control for the latest alcohol delivery laws and updates.
In light of COVID-19, the Idaho State Police Bureau of Alcohol Beverage Control updated its rules surrounding the sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption via takeout or delivery. Essentially, restaurants with an existing beer and wine license can sell bottles and cans of beer to-go for off-premises consumption, as well as to-go mixed drinks. Liquor may not be delivered, however it can be sold for pickup if it is in a sealed container.
Like New York, Illinois was quick to loosen its state liquor laws. On Monday, March 16, 2020, the state issued an executive order that encouraged restaurants and bars to sell alcohol “through means such as in-house delivery, third-party delivery, drive-through, and curbside pick-up.”
This earlier law was extended in June 2020 when Governor JB Pritzker signed House Bill 2682, which further allowed restaurants and bars with a liquor license to sell pre-mixed cocktails for delivery and pickup.
As of January 20, 2021, restaurants are still permitted to continue selling alcohol and to go cocktails for takeout and delivery under certain guidelines. Further updates are available from the Illinois’s Liquor Control Commission.
At the start of the pandemic, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb loosened up some of Indiana’s liquor laws by issuing an executive order that let establishments sell carryout beer, wine, or spirits in unopened packages. However, only combined liquor license holders may deliver unopened alcohol to private homes.
In early 2021, EO 20-49 & EO 20-53 extended Executive Order 20-14, which allows permittees to sell alcoholic beverages for carryout and to take alcohol to a vehicle adjacent to a restaurant premises until January 24, 2021. Further updates are available from Indiana’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
On Friday, March 20, 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation that temporarily allowed some bars and restaurants to sell liquor and wine to go.
In June of 2020, Iowa’s Governor signed legislation that permanently permits the sale of cocktails to go, and officially made Iowa the first state to keep a temporary alcohol delivery law. The new rules for the home delivery of alcoholic beverages can be found here, and further updates are available from Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division.
In March of 2020, Kansas unveiled one of the most specific new alcohol delivery laws. As per the March orders, Kansas bars, breweries, and restaurants with a liquor license are temporarily allowed to sell bottled beer and wine to-go during the pandemic. However, the new rules state that venues must designate “to-go” parking spaces that are within 50 feet of the entrance, prohibiting any sales outside those 50 feet. Similarly, alcohol sales and physical delivery can only occur within a 50 foot radius of the licensed premises.
The new alcohol delivery and pickup rules are still in effect as of January 2021, and a bill was filed to make the changes permanent. Ongoing updates are available from Kansas’s Alcoholic Beverages Control.
On Thursday, March 19, 2020, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced that he would allow restaurants and bars to deliver alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other states, alcohol must come in a closed and sealed original container. Alcohol must also be “incidental to the purchase of a meal,” meaning bulk orders are not permitted.
These measures are still in effect as of January 2021, with a bill recently filed to make the state’s alcohol to go program permanent. The most recent updates are available from Kentucky’s Alcoholic Beverages Control.
In the early weeks of the pandemic, Louisiana relaxed its state liquor laws to allow restaurants to sell sealed containers of beer, wine, and frozen specialty drinks with takeout and curbside pickup orders. Then a new state law in June of 2020 permitted alcohol delivery by a delivery company or third-party platform.
For the most up to date information and guidelines around the state’s alcohol delivery and takeout laws, visit Louisiana’s Alcohol & Tobacco Control website.
In April of 2020, Maine’s Governor Janet Mills signed an executive order allowing restaurants to sell beer, wine, and cocktails to anyone who is also ordering food (as long as they are of age). A bill was then passed to extend the measures through April 2022.
Specific guidelines around Maine’s alcohol delivery laws and up to date information can be found on Maine’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations page.
On Thursday, March 19, 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan joined other states in issuing an executive order to allow bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and “other establishments with appropriate license” to deliver alcohol off-premises or sell alcohol for takeout if it is not consumed on the premises. This includes beer, wine, and hard alcohol in sealed containers.
On April 3, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a municipal relief bill that allows Massachusetts restaurants licensed to sell alcohol to now offer beer and wine for takeout and delivery. The Governor then signed a bill on July 20, 2020, allowing bars and restaurants to sell to-go cocktails with takeout and delivery food orders.
As of January 2021, these orders were still in place. For specific guidelines and the latest updates, you can visit Massachusetts’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
Over the course of the pandemic, Michgan has passed several new liquor laws. In early July 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a 16-bill package for the hospitality industry, which allows restaurants and bars with a Class C liquor license to sell to-go cocktails, and permits businesses with a third-party facilitator service licensee to deliver those mixed cocktails, beer, and wine to customers. Customers can also order alcohol via third-party delivery apps like DoorDash. Additional guidelines can be found here.
Michigan’s updated alcohol delivery laws are still in effect as of January 2021. For more recent updates, visit Michigan’s Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs.
In April of 2020, Minnesota restaurants with liquor licenses were permitted to sell wine and beer to go along with food orders. However, to-go cocktails and mixed drinks are prohibited.
The new rules also stipulate that restaurants can only sell alcohol with food in its original, unopened packaging, and sales are capped at 72 ounces of beer, cider, or hard seltzer and 750 milliliters of wine per order.
These rules were still in place as of December 2020. More up to date information can be found on Minnesota’s Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement website.
In response to the pandemic, Mississippi is allowing restaurants to sell single, sealed bottles of wine to go when the wine accompanies a pickup food order. Additionally, restaurants located in a Leisure and Recreation District (LRD) are permitted to sell mixed drinks with to-go food orders for curbside pickup, provided they have the appropriate license.
These new restrictions were still in place as of October 2020. Check with Mississippi’s Alcoholic Beverage Control site for the most recent updates.
In April of 2020, the Missouri Department of Public Safety waived restrictions on the sale of to-go mixed drinks by restaurants and bars, provided that customers also purchased a meal. This was initially extended until the end of 2020, and then further extended until March 31, 2021.
For the latest updates on the sale of alcohol to go in Missouri, check Missouri’s Alcohol & Tobacco Control website.
In March of 2020, the Montana Department of Revenue began allowing certain businesses with an active alcoholic beverages license to sell and deliver alcohol for off-premises consumption. These rules stipulate that food must also be ordered.
As part of his Executive Order to Provide Relief to Restaurants and Bars During COVID-19 Emergency, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that restaurants would be able to sell beer, wine, and spirits to customers placing takeout or delivery orders of food. Pre-made cocktails and other alcoholic beverages were also permitted as long as the containers were sealed with a lid.
As of January 2021, these alcohol delivery and takeout laws are still in effect. The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission is also pushing to make the change permanent with LB295, which would repeal the prohibition on the sale of alcohol to someone in a motor vehicle.
For the latest updates on Nebraska’s alcohol delivery laws, check with the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission.
In Nevada, the question of whether restaurants can deliver alcohol is a bit complicated because the state’s alcohol delivery and pickup laws vary widely by county and even by city.
For instance, Las Vegas has permitted restaurants to offer curbside pickup and delivery of alcohol. In January 2021, a new bill was passed that allows Las Vegas restaurants to now deliver cocktails, beer, bottles, and more via third-party services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Postmates.
You can check Nevada’s Alcoholic Beverage Control for specific guidelines for each county.
Just two days after all New Hampshire restaurants and bars were ordered to close their dining areas, Governor Chris Sununu issued an emergency order allowing restaurants to sell beer and wine with takeout orders. The temporary authorization applies to any establishment that already has a restaurant license and a license for on-premise alcohol consumption.
Unlike some states, spirits and cocktails are not included under the new order. Additionally, all alcohol deliveries must be accompanied by food, and beer and wine must be transported in its original container.
In January 2021, a new bill was filed to continue allowing beer and wine deliveries in New Hampshire.
For the most up to date information, check with the New Hampshire’s Liquor Commission.
In New Jersey, restaurants and bars with the appropriate licenses are permitted to include alcohol with takeout and delivery orders. In May, 2020 a bill was also passed that expanded this to include mixed drinks, provided they are sold in closed and sealed containers.
Unlike other states, New Mexico has not permitted the sale of alcohol for off-premise consumption.
However, in January 2021, lawmakers introduced a new bill that would allow restaurants to deliver beer and wine with a minimum $25 food purchase. If this bill passes, it will go into effect in July 2021.
For current updates and guidelines, check with New Mexico’s Alcoholic Beverage Control.
New York was one of the first states to allow restaurants to sell alcohol for pickup and delivery. On Monday, March 16, 2020, the New York State Liquor Authority announced that all licensed on-premises establishments could sell alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption, as long as the alcohol is accompanied by food. This includes mixed drinks, as long as the beverage is placed in a closed container.
Other FAQs about alcohol delivery in New York can be found here.
New York’s alcohol delivery and takeout laws have been extended several times since the initial order. Most recently, the order was extended through until January 29, 2021. For further updates, check with New York’s State Liquor Authority.
Early in the pandemic, North Carolina permitted the sale of wine and beer to go, provided the drink remains in the manufacturer’s original container.
Then, in December of 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed off on an order allowing bars and restaurants to sell mixed alcoholic beverages for carryout and delivery. This new order is set to expire on January 31, 2021, unless it is modified or extended.
For the most up to date information on North Carolina’s alcohol delivery laws, check with North Carolina’s ABC Commission.
In North Dakota, the question of can restaurants deliver alcohol varies by city. For instance, the city of Fargo has permitted restaurants to sell beer and wine for takeout or delivery. However, this is not the case in other parts of the state.
For city-specific rules and guidelines, check North Dakota’s Alcoholic Beverage License page.
On April 7, 2020, the Ohio Liquor Control Commission passed an emergency rule to allow establishments with an existing on-premises liquor permit to begin selling and delivering alcohol.
In October of 2020, this order was made permanent under House Bill 669. The new bill allows restaurants, bars, small breweries, micro-distilleries, and wineries to sell alcoholic beverages for carryout or delivery as long as it accompanies a meal.
For specific guidelines regarding alcohol delivery and takeout in Ohio, visit Ohio’s Department of Commerce.
The Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission has announced that it will allow restaurants to deliver alcohol. These rules applied to restaurants, bars and clubs holding mixed beverage, beer and wine, or caterer/mixed beverage licenses.
In May of 2020, Senate Bill 1928 made the new alcohol delivery and pickup laws permanent. Only employees of those restaurants and bars that hold the proper liquor license can continue to deliver spirits, wine, or beer. Alcohol delivery via a third-party company, like Postmates or DoorDash is not permitted.
For more details about alcohol delivery and pickup in Oklahoma, check with Oklahoma’s ABLE Commission.
In Oregon, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has eased regulations on how businesses can serve alcohol. Under the new rules, restaurants that sell beer and wine to go – meaning those that currently have an Off-Premise License – can offer curbside pickup, as long as it’s within 100 feet of the establishment (previously customers needed to go inside to make the purchase).
In December of 2020, the Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 1801, which allows bars and restaurants to sell takeout and delivery cocktails, mixed drinks, and single-serving glasses of wine in sealed containers for off-site consumption, as long as the drinks are purchased with food. However, there are restrictions on the new bill, and the new measures expire 60 days after the governor’s pandemic emergency declaration expires.
For the most current information, check with Oregon’s Liquor Control Commission.
In Pennsylvania, restaurants with the right permits were already permitted to sell beer and wine for takeout.
However, in May of 2020 a new law was passed allowing restaurants, bars, and hotels to sell mixed drinks to go in sealed containers, as long as those businesses hold R or H liquor licenses, have lost more than 25% of their average monthly sales, and also sell prepared meals for takeout. However, the law stipulates that once a restaurant is operating at 60% of its occupancy capacity or more, it loses the right to sell cocktails to go.
More information about Pennsylvania’s current restrictions on alcohol delivery and pickup can be found on Pennsylvania’s Liquor Control Board website.
In March of 2020, Rhode Island’s Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order allowing restaurants to sell takeout beer and wine. Then in May 2020, the Governor announced that restaurants holding Class B liquor licenses could also sell mixed drinks and growlers of beer with takeout orders. However, alcohol delivery is not permitted.
As of January 2021, Rhode Island’s alcohol to go rules are still in effect. For the most recent updates, you can visit the State of Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation.
In March of 2020, Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order allowing restaurants to sell beer and wine with drive-through and curbside pick-up orders (not delivery). However, alcoholic liquors are prohibited for both curbside pickup and delivery.
As of January 2021, this order is still in effect. More details on the temporary order can be found on South Carolina’s Department of Revenue website.
Unlike many other states, South Dakota has not issued any special permissions for alcohol delivery by restaurants. However, those establishments that already have an off-sale delivery license are permitted to use it.
More information is available from South Dakota’s Department of Revenue.
On Sunday, March 22, 2020, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 17, which authorized restaurants to offer alcohol, beer, and wine for takeout and delivery. All alcohol sales must be accompanied by food and must also be served in sealed containers with a secure lid – no to-go cups are permitted.
In December of 2020, Governor Lee extended the executive order allowing restaurants to offer beer, wine, and spirits for carryout and delivery. The order is currently extended until February, 27, 2021.
More information and the latest updates are available from Tennessee’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
On Wednesday, March 18, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a waiver that temporarily allows restaurants to deliver alcohol, as long as the drinks are accompanied by food purchases. This includes beer, wine, and mixed drinks, as long as the drink is delivered in the original container that was sealed by the manufacturer.
In January of 2021, a bill was filed in the Texas legislature that aims to make Governor Greg Abbott’s waiver permanent.
For the latest update on Texas’ alcohol delivery laws, check with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Utah has some of the most rigid liquor laws in the state, so it is unsurprising that no special exceptions have been made to allow alcohol delivery or pickup during the pandemic.
For more specific information, you can check with Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Just two days after limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery only, Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced that he would be waiving the usual rules surrounding alcohol delivery. This directive means that restaurants and bars are allowed to sell beer, wine, spirits, and “spirit-based products” (i.e. cocktails) for takeout and delivery, as long as the alcohol is accompanied by a meal.
As of January 2021, these rules are still in effect. For further updates, visit Vermont’s Department of Liquor Control website.
In Virginia, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority has adjusted its regulations to allow restaurants to sell beer or wine in sealed containers for curbside pickup or delivery. Mixed drinks are also permitted.
As of January 2021, these rules are still in effect. More specific information about the current alcohol delivery guidelines are available from Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.
Early on in the pandemic, the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board passed a temporary rule allowing licensed restaurants and bars to sell to-go spirits, beer, and wine for takeout or delivery. In May 2020, the Board further announced that restaurants with Spirits, Beer, and Wine licenses could also sell premixed alcohol drinks for pickup or delivery.
As of January 2021, these temporary allowances are still in effect with more details around the guidelines available from Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.
The West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration is now permitting limited home delivery of by certain licensees during the current State of Emergency. Under this new rule, restaurants may deliver beer or wine (no liquor or mixed drinks) in the sealed original container, as long as the owner of the license is delivering takeout food orders.
As of January 2021, these rules were still in effect, with more information available from West Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration.
In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue issued Emergency Order #8, allowing certain liquor license holders the ability to provide carry-out orders of alcoholic beverages in their original, sealed containers (if permitted by municipal ordinance).
As of January 2021, carryout alcohol beverages in the original, sealed containers are still permitted.
In March 2020, Wyoming’s Governor Mark Gordon signed an executive order allowing restaurants to sell beer and wine with takeout and curbside food purchases. However, the third continuation of the order expired part-way through 2020, bringing the rules back to what they were prior to the pandemic.
Currently, the question of whether restaurants can deliver alcohol in Wyoming is dependent on the type of liquor license the restaurant holds. Restaurants that operate under a Full Retail Liquor License can deliver alcohol or offer alcohol with takeout.
However, most restaurants in the state operate under a Restaurant Liquor Licence, which prohibits alcohol sales for off-premise consumption. This means that if you’re a restaurant with a Restaurant Liquor Licence, you cannot deliver alcohol or offer alcohol with takeout. The same hold for a Bar & Grill liquor license.
For the latest updates to Wyoming’s liquor laws, check with Wyoming’s Department of Revenue.
In Alberta, a Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) Regulation amendment was issued allowing licensed restaurants and bars to sell alcohol as part of their takeout and delivery services. The amendment does not include mixed drinks and “liquor must be delivered in a sealed, commercial container as supplied by the liquor supplier or agency.”
It was later announced that restaurants and bars could continue to offer alcohol delivery and pickup even after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. More information about these guidelines is available from the AGLC.
On Sunday, March 22, 2020, the B.C. government temporarily changed the province’s liquor laws to allow restaurants to deliver alcohol. Customers are only allowed to purchase alcohol if they are also purchasing a meal and other liquor laws still apply, such as age restrictions.
Most recently, the temporary rule allowing restaurants and bars to sell and deliver alcohol was extended until March 31, 2021. More information is available from B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.
In response to pressure from Manitoba restaurant owners, Premier Brian Pallister announced that Manitoba will allow restaurants to sell alcohol for takeout and delivery orders. The new order applies to licensed establishments whose primary business is food, therefore all alcohol sales must be accompanied by orders of food.
On April 15, the new legislation was made permanent, meaning restaurants can continue to sell sealed beer, wine, cider, and coolers for takeout and delivery even after the COVID-19 crisis. Details about the new guidelines are available from the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba.
Back in April of 2020, New Brunswick temporarily permitted the sale of alcohol for takeout and delivery under the Emergency Measures Act.
Then, in December of 2020, the provincial government introduced amendments to the Liquor Control Act, which would make the alcohol delivery and takeout rules permanent.
For the latest updates to these rules, check with the Government of New Brunswick.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, alcohol delivery with food orders was officially made permanent in October of 2020. Alcohol can also be sold alongside takeout orders.
For more information about the new guidelines, visit the Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation’s website.
In May of 2020, the Northwest Territories’ Department of Finance announced changes to the territory’s liquor regulations that allow for liquor delivery. According to the new rules, restaurants and bars must also establish their own alcohol delivery service, and cannot use private services or taxi drivers.
For the most up to date information, visit the NWT Liquor Licensing Board.
More information is available from the Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel and Tobacco Division of Service Nova Scotia.
In Nunavut, no changes have been made to the territory’s alcohol delivery and pickup laws. For more information, check with the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission.
In March of 2020, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced a new measure permitting licensed restaurants and bars in Ontario to sell alcohol with takeout and delivery orders. Alcohol may also be sold for takeout or delivery through a third-party app (i.e. Uber Eats, Foodora, SkipTheDishes), provided they are acting on behalf of the licensee.
At the end of 2020, Ontario announced that it would permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of takeout or delivery orders. Specific alcohol delivery guidelines are available from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
In December of 2020, Prince Edward Island announced that restaurants with a package sales license can permanently offer home delivery of alcohol to provincial residents, and that will continue going forward.
More information is available from the PEI Liquor Control Commission.
In December of 2020, the Quebec National Assembly passed Bill 72, which allows restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages through third-party delivery apps (like Uber Eats, SkipTheDishes, and CHK PLZ) alongside food orders. Previously, only restaurant owners who conducted their own deliveries were able to deliver alcohol with a meal.
As for takeout orders, restaurants can sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers (e.g., wine, beer, and cider, but not hard liquor containing over 7% alcohol content) for takeout as long as the alcohol is accompanied by some food.
More information about Quebec’s updated alcohol delivery rules is available from Quebec’s Alcohol, Racing and Gaming Authority.
As of January 2021, restaurants and bars in Saskatchewan can continue to provide takeout/delivery service of alcohol and food products. However, alcohol must be sold in closed, factory-sealed containers.
For the most recent updates, check with Saskatchewan’s Liquor and Gaming Authority.
As of January 2021, the Yukon’s guidelines for bars and restaurants do not permit the sale of alcohol for takeout and delivery.
More information is available from the Government of Yukon website.
Though some restaurants have successfully pivoted to takeout and delivery, there is no doubt that generating enough revenue to stay afloat is still a major concern. But with the recent changes to alcohol delivery laws, selling alcohol to go may be an opportunity for some restaurateurs to bridge the gap.
Below are some of the major benefits of alcohol delivery for restaurants during COVID-19.
In the restaurant industry, alcohol often has the highest profit margins because of high markups, a longer shelf-life, and lower labor costs behind the bar than in the kitchen. In fact, alcohol is responsible for 20% to 30% of restaurant sales across the U.S. But with the sudden shift to delivery and takeout-only, alcohol sales have all but evaporated and restaurants have seen their revenue fall dramatically.
It goes without saying that the ability to put alcohol back on the menu can help restaurants generate some much-needed cash. Instead of letting pricey bottles sit on store shelves, restaurants can sell off these products and quickly free up cash flow. Not to mention, most states require the purchase of food with any alcohol deliveries, meaning that restaurants could see an increase in average check sizes for takeout and delivery orders.
One of the most heart-breaking impacts of the COVID-19 dining restrictions has been the massive layoffs – especially for FOH staff. Even for the restaurants successfully offering takeout and delivery, many are operating with fewer staff members on hand in order to keep costs to a minimum.
With alcohol delivery now an option in most states and provinces, restaurants need staff on hand to facilitate the deliveries. As a result, many restaurants have been able to keep existing certain individuals employed or rehire restaurant staff to carry out alcohol deliveries. Though most restaurants cannot hire back their entire staff, the ability to keep some staff on payroll can make a huge difference in the face of extreme economic uncertainty.
Since the start of the pandemic, nearly every restaurant has been forced to make some major menu adjustments in the wake of COVID-19. In some cases, this has meant experimenting with entirely new menu options, and abandoning certain dishes that aren’t selling or simply don’t travel well. Naturally, this has left a lot of restaurants with some unused inventory.
In most cases, states and provinces only allow alcohol delivery with food. Since restaurants need to offer food alongside drinks anyway, this serves as a great opportunity to use up excess ingredients. For instance, leftover cheese can be sold along with bottles of wine, while citrus fruits can be paired with cocktail mix to create at-home mixology kits. Though it might take a bit of creativity, alcohol delivery naturally lends itself to food and drink pairings.
In the early days of the pandemic, many restaurants had to find a way to offload excess alcohol inventory. For some, the cancelation of events such as SXSW and St. Patrick’s Day festivities, means that they actually have more alcohol on hand (and less cash) than usual.
Even well into the pandemic, changing dining restrictions mean that many restaurants aren’t able to predict exactly how much alcohol to order.
For restaurants sitting on massive stockpiles of beer, wine, or liquor, alcohol delivery provides a way to unload excess inventory and recoup some of their costs. Even in the cases where restaurants have more alcohol on hand than they can sell, some of the changes to state liquor laws have allowed them to sell back unopened alcoholic products to manufacturers and distributors.
For some restaurants, pivoting to an off-premise restaurant model has been a rough road. For those that have never offered takeout or delivery, there are challenges involved in setting up an online ordering system, coordinating food delivery drivers, and figuring out which menu items are travel-friendly.
Though alcohol delivery certainly comes with its own challenges, beer, wine, and liquor are all travel-friendly products that lend themselves well to online ordering and no-contact delivery. Unlike food, which requires dedicated takeout food packaging, alcohol requires little to no additional packaging – provided you aren’t offering mixed drinks. Issues such as temperature and spoilage are also far less of a concern with alcohol than with food. For restaurants trying to pivot away from dine-in services, the ease of alcohol delivery can make a major difference.
With alcohol delivery offering a potential beacon of relief, many restaurants are taking full advantage of the new opportunity. From takeout cocktails to Champagne on demand, here are some of the creative ways that restaurants are using alcohol delivery to keep their businesses afloat.
Most states and provinces that permit alcohol delivery and pickup require that orders be accompanied by a meal or food of some kind. As a result, many restaurants have come up with creative pairings for their food and drinks selections.
To cater to customers that are more interested in grabbing a nice bottle of wine than a full meal, New York City’s La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels has been pairing its extensive wine list with snackable charcuterie boards. This clever pairing allows the wine bar to continue selling curated four-packs and six-packs of wine, without the need to keep the kitchen churning out gourmet meals.
For other restaurants, food and drink pairing are a way to boost check sizes on takeout and delivery orders, rather than a way to keep kitchen costs down. For instance, L.A, taqueria Petty Cash is giving customers the option to add a bottle of four Petty Cash margaritas to the restaurant’s Taco Dinner meal deal, for just an extra $22.
Though not all states and provinces allow for the sale of hard liquor, some do. For restaurants in those areas, the ability to sell hard liquor has led to the sale of cocktail kits that customers can prepare at home.
For instance, Nice Guys in Cape Coral, Florida is serving up cocktail kits for its signature negronis, mules, mojitos, margaritas, and more. Each kit comes with bottles of liquor, as well as house mixers, garnishes, glasses, and detailed instructions.
Even cafes and breakfast joints have been able to take advantage of alcohol delivery by creating boozy brunch kits. For example, Houston’s Backstreet Cafe has created Bloody Mary Kits, as well as Mimosa Kits that include a bottle of bubbly and a choice of orange juice or wild berry mix.
And in states such as New York, where the delivery of pre-mixed cocktails is permitted, some restaurants are offering bulk ordering of their signature drinks. For instance, Patent Pending is now promoting large format cocktail delivery and is even offering to throw in a free roll of toilet paper for orders over $50.
To boost alcohol sales, some restaurants have created special promotions to encourage delivery orders. Many are even branding their promotions as a new type of happy hour for the ever-expanding group of work-from-home employees.
In Chicago, Roots Pizza is one restaurant offering a happy hour delivery discount. From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., customers can use a special code in the Roots app to enjoy half off beer, wine, and White Claw.
And in some cases, restaurants are offering discounts all day long for customers that really need to unwind. For instance, Vancouver’s Homer St. Café and Bar is offering half-priced bottles of wine and $4 cans of beer to go with any food order – all day long. The restaurant is also offering six-packs for just $15.
There’s no question that alcohol delivery offers restaurants a beacon of hope during very trying times. Whether that means large format cocktail kits or six-packs for at-home happy hours, alcohol delivery can help restaurants stay open, keep staff on the payroll, and ultimately weather the storm of COVID-19 (and beyond). In some cases, these looser liquor laws have already become permanent, giving restaurants a valuable source of revenue as they try to recover from the pandemic.