Chicago City Council Votes to Allow Sale of To-Go Cocktails

A similar measure was already signed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this month

Chicago restaurants and bars can sell curbside cocktails under a new measure approved by City Council Wednesday.

The vote comes amid efforts to expand the hospitality industry in phase three of reopening and on the same day bars and breweries across the city reopened for outdoor service.

A similar measure was already signed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this month as Illinois joined 34 other states in enacting a to-go cocktail policy for bars and restaurants. That policy allowed cocktails to be delivered in a sealed, labeled container with a tamper-evident cap or seal by an employee of the the establishment. Cocktails may not be delivered by a third party delivery app, however.

“Restaurants and bars are beloved businesses in so many of our communities and also some of the hardest hit from the COVD-19 pandemic,” Pritzker said at the time. “This legislation will provide these businesses with a critical tool to bring in additional income until they can safely and fully reopen their doors once more."

The legislation delayed liquor license late fees and license fees for businesses, along with establishing automatic liquor license renewal approval and extension for any holder whose business has been suspended as a result of COVID-19.

Last month, a grassroots initiative called Cocktails for Hope advocated for the sale of premixed cocktails to go. Co-founder Julia Momose started a petition that quickly garnered more than 11,000 signatures, including those of nearly 30 state lawmakers.

"Cocktails provide far better margins than anything else we sell," said Momose, who also owns Kumiko in Chicago's West Loop. "An emblem of hope, cocktails have always been something people gather around."

Momose said the ability to sell cocktails would allow her to hire back furloughed staff. She and many other small restaurant owners are concerned that without this opportunity, many in the service industry won't survive.

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