Restaurants and bars may soon be able to continue selling to-go cocktails.
The House of Representatives, with a 149-1 vote, approved a bill that, among other things, would allow the practice to continue on a permanent basis. The bill is now headed to the Senate for approval.
Connecticut first let restaurants, hotels, and certain cafés to sell to-go cocktails during COVID, but the allowance was set to expire next June. The bill would eliminate the sunset.
The bill would not change the rules around to-go sales, including the fact that a container — and not the manufacturer’s original container — be sealed.
Sales can also only happen during periods when package stores are allowed to be open, and the customers must also buy food. Additionally, the state limits how much alcohol can be purchased in an order.
Gov. Ned Lamont first allowed the to-go sales in 2020, and the legislature passed a law in 2021 to allow the practice to continue.
“This gave customers a new, convenient way to add alcohol with take-out orders and was a new revenue opportunity for restaurant operators,” Scott Dolch, executive director for the Connecticut Restaurant Association, said in written testimony.
According to the Distilled Spirits Association, 20 states and Washington, D.C., have permanently allowed restaurants and bars to sell alcohol for off-site consumption. Another dozen are permitting it temporarily.
Rep. Ben McGorty, R-Shelton, was the lone opposing vote Wednesday.
House Bill 6548 would make several other changes, including creating temporary liquor permits for auctions and other noncommercial entities and a year-round version of the seasonal outdoor open-air permit.
The bill also expands permits for farmers’ markets to let manufacturers sell spirits and offer tastings.