Attention New Yorkers: To-go cocktails are back.
Governor Kathy Hochul on Saturday signed New York’s $220 billion one-year budget, which included the return of a popular program instituted at the start of the first wave of coronavirus cases in 2020.
Liquor and wine should be available for take-out and delivery for three years, provided the purchase includes a “substantial food item”.
“The nightlife and hospitality industry in New York is second to none, and by allowing take-out beverage sales, we will continue to support the industry’s post-pandemic recovery,” Hochul said Saturday in a statement.
Hochul announced his intention to include the program in this year’s budget during his state of the state address in January.
Take-out drinks were one of the few bright spots for bars and restaurants as the state emerged from the early days of lockdown in 2020. The program was in effect until June, when state lawmakers allowed the emergency regulation to expire.
“When the policy came to an abrupt end last year, it dealt a financial blow to their recovery, and New Yorkers were disappointed that this grassroots policy allowing them to have wine delivered to their front door or to have a margarita with their takeout at restaurants was no more,” the New York City Hospitality Alliance said in a statement this week.
The group, which backed the measure, said the path through the state legislature “was very difficult, complex, controversial, and required a great deal of finesse and negotiation.”
Hochul’s statement clarifies the program’s returns with a caveat for consumers and sellers. The law, she says, includes a ban on bottle sales in an effort to prevent restaurants from competing with liquor stores.
Also new this time around is the requirement that takeout drinks must be accompanied by “substantial food”. In the early months of the 2020 program, most to-go beverage sales were associated with small snacks, such as peanuts or “Cuomo potato chips.”