Cocktails To Go? Not Legal, but Chicago Bartender Pushes a Petition

Julia Momose, partner and bartender at Kumiko in Chicago's Fulton River District neighborhood, asks Illinois' governor to allow pre-mixed drinks for takeout

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A petition asking Illinois authorities to allow the sale of carryout cocktails is circulating online, as restaurants and bars struggle to stay afloat during the state's stay-at-home order.

The petition was started by Julia Momose, a partner and bartender at Kumiko in Chicago's Fulton River District neighborhood. Momose wrote in the petition that such a move could bring in much needed money.

"We need the State of Illinois to allow bars and restaurants with on-premise licenses to sell their carefully crafted cocktails as a way to increase revenue during these trying times," Momose wrote.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had 1,700 signatures, with a goal of 2,500. It includes a sample letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and two officials with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, Cynthia Berg and Chimaobi Enyia.

While Illinois restaurants are prohibited from welcoming dine-in customers until at least April 7, many have exercised their right to offer deliver and carryout during the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants can also sell sealed beer and wine in their original containers.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she will not hesitate to shut down Chicago’s lakefront and warned of possible citations for those not heeding the state’s stay-at-home order.

"Allowing businesses to sell pre-packaged alcohol helps, but it is not enough," wrote Momose in her petition. "We also ask that you updated on-premise privileges for licensed businesses to allow bars and restaurants to sell mixed beverages in sealed containers for curbside pickup and delivery. This won't fix everything, but it offers a glimmer of hope and something that can help keep the lights on for small businesses right now."

Momose thinks Kumiko, which was named to Time Magazine's 100 Greatest Places in 2019, and other restaurants can benefit from greater flexibility in the order.

Several restaurants are already selling cocktail kits, which are legal.

California recently relaxed its restrictions on pre-mixed cocktails, specifying that they can be bought with the purchase of food for delivery or takeout and must be sold with a secure lid or cap.

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