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Washington Rules: Restaurants Can Now Sell To-Go Cocktails During Stay-at-Home Order

The state’s liquor and cannabis board makes the long-anticipated temporary law change

A selection of three cocktails, including a martini, on a bar top
Bars and restaurants can now sell pre-mixed drinks, as long as they’re accompanied by food.

About time? A month after ruling that restaurants and bars could sell sealed liquor bottles with food, Washington’s liquor and cannabis board (LCB) has now made it legal to sell sealed mixed drinks for takeout and delivery during the duration of the state’s stay-at-home order. Now, all restaurants that have a spirits, beer, and wine license can sell cocktails, as long as they are served with a “full meal” (as defined here) and in certain types of sealed containers (no cheap styrofoam cups).

Back in March, the LCB relaxed some of its booze rules to allow restaurants with a proper license to sell closed factory-sealed bottles of liquor for takeout or delivery, in addition to wine and beer. Lifting such a restriction was intended to help area restaurants and bars forced to close for dine-in services during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, many Seattle spots jumped on the opportunity, packaging cocktail kits among their takeout offerings that included instructions on how to mix a drink at home.

But restaurateurs and bartenders across the city still called for legalizing to-go cocktails, considering that other cities around the country have done so during the crisis. Chris Cvetkovich of the globally-influenced restaurant Nue told Eater Seattle that just selling bottles people can get in grocery stores removes any “competitive advantage.” And renowned cocktail bar Canon had tweeted, “Please follow the lead of NY, CA, and DC and help us!”

With Washington’s stay-at-home order set to expire at the end of May, it’s possible that this new rule may only be in effect for a few more weeks, although there’s an argument to be made that the law should really be permanent across the board.

“This is a game-changer and one we will be ramping up our offerings on today,” says Cvetkovich. “At this time, anything additional we are allowed to sell, while not bringing us back to ‘normal,’ is a definite help.”