Alcohol farm

State budget brings take-out alcohol back from restaurants

ALBANY — After a long battle that included fierce opposition from liquor store owners, consumers will once again be able to purchase liquor with takeout and delivery orders at bars and restaurants across the country. State.

The measure, included in the state budget, will take effect as soon as the budget is passed by the Legislative Assembly and signed by Governor Kathy Hochul.

According to the invoice (Part P in the online version):

  • Restaurants currently licensed to sell wine, beer, spirits and cocktails can do so with takeout or delivery food orders.
  • Food must be included with take-out liquor orders. The stipulation is for “substantial food”, which presumably means more than just “Cuomo chips”, but less than a complete meal.
  • The price of alcohol to take away must be the same as that of consumption on the premises.
  • Bottled beer, individual cocktails and glasses of wine will be permitted, served in a container with a secure lid or sealed cap.
  • Full bottles of wines and spirits in their original packaging cannot be sold to take away.
  • However, no limit on portion size is mentioned. Some earlier bills specified, for example, that orders were limited to two drinks, either wine or cocktails, with a maximum number of ounces per drink, for each entree. In theory, the lack of a portion limit means a restaurant could dump an entire bottle of wine into a take-out container of the same size and drop it in a bag with food, or even do the same with a liter of Maker’s Mark Bourbon.

Tasting rooms associated with wineries, cider houses, mead houses, breweries and distilleries are notably excluded from takeout alcohol. Like restaurants, they were allowed during the pandemic to sell alcohol for takeout or delivery, but the budgetary provisions do not extend to them. Representatives said on Thursday that the industry would push for a separate bill dealing with the issue to be passed by the end of the legislative session in June.

There is a three-year limit on takeout alcohol, after which it will have to be phased out, extended, or made permanent.

“It’s good to go back and reassess,” said Assemblyman Pat Fahy, representing parts of the City of Albany and West Albany County. A takeaway alcohol advocate for years, Fahy described it as “one of the most frustrating issues I’ve ever worked on” since taking office in 2013.

A stand-alone alcohol-to-go bill introduced by Fahy last year would have expired after two years. Speaking of the new measure’s three years, she said on Thursday, “That will give us time to get some really good data, and then you can tighten things up or expand it if needed.”

Scott Wexler, executive director since the mid-1980s of the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association, said: “To-go drinks would be good public policy. It would be good for our members and for their staff, who would see a big It would also impact tipping. It would also be good for customers. I know I can’t wait to have a cocktail to go with my dinner as soon as it’s legal.

Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, said, “If everything falls into place, we would be very happy to have included that in the budget.” Fleischut has been working on the issue for years, never with more determination than in the 10 months since last June, after the pandemic-related measure that allowed it expired.

The budget also calls for the creation of a temporary 21-member state commission to “review liquor control law reforms to modernize the liquor industry in New York State.” . The commission’s report with recommendation is expected by May 1, 2023. Areas to be reviewed include the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages at all levels of the state; an analysis of the overall health of the industry; and suggestions for improving State Liquor Authority operations, including shortening the processing time for liquor licenses and permits.

Additionally, beverage manufacturers with the “farm” designation in their licenses can now allow another business to operate at their facility, which was previously prohibited. For example, a café could share space with a microbrewery. Among those affected is the bar and tasting room of Albany Distilling Co. on Livingston Avenue in Albany, which has a satellite location of DeFazio’s Pizza in the same building. Due to current regulations, the pizzeria has a separate entrance and bar patrons must use it to order food which is then delivered to their table.

Finally, the budget includes a provision allowing liquor stores to be open on Christmas Day, previously the only full day of the year on which they were required to be closed. But liquor store owners won’t be able to have more than the license they’re currently limited to. Early discussions floated the idea of ​​a maximum of three stores per licensee, but this did not make it into the final deal. This is one of the things to be considered by the temporary committee, depending on the budget.

Many details of this story were first reported in the Table Hopping newsletter. Sign up for free delivery every Thursday.