By Kelsey Kushner

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Keep ordering those margaritas to go.

Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill Tuesday making take-out cocktails and alcohol delivery a more permanent convenience. Maryland is now one of 35 states allowing to-go cocktails as a Covid relief measure.

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“Last year, I issued an emergency order to help struggling bars and restaurants, which allowed for them to carry out and delivery of alcohol,” Hogan said. “We’re now signing a bill which will allow that to continue.”

This was supposed to be a temporary thing during the Covid lockdowns to help local businesses, but now, it will be allowed for at least two more years.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated Maryland’s hospitality businesses, and it will take years for them to fully recover,” said Jay Hibbard, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States senior vice president of state government relations. “Cocktails to-go has already proven to be a vital part of their survival during COVID-19 and will only provide increased stability in the future. Local restaurants, bars and taverns are desperate for a sustained source of revenue, and cocktails to-go provide a critical lifeline for these businesses.”

At Cindy Lou’s Fish House in Baltimore, if you can’t get a seat at the bar, you can get your cocktails to go.

“I definitely think that’s going to be a huge help for us,” manager Jimi Jefferson said.

With the pandemic shaking up the restaurant industry, Jefferson says to-go booze will continue to be a big boost.

“We wanted to keep as much as our staff still on board as much as possible, so to be able to still employee bartenders because we weren’t just boxing up food and sending it out the door was a huge deal for us,” Jefferson said.

Restaurants took a major hit during the pandemic.

At Dry 85 in Annapolis, general manager Grace Canfield says to-go cocktails helped them stay afloat.

“In the beginning, it was very much something that we needed to do to be able to get revenue. And at this point, it feels more like something we get to do, as opposed to something we need to do,” Canfield said.

As restrictions are lifted across the state, Canfield says to-go booze will give those who might not feel comfortable heading out, the perfect reason to stay in.

“The idea of somebody being able to get a full Dry 85 experience from the comfort of their own home is very exciting to us,” Canfield said.

Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Montana, Arkansas, West Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and the District of Columbia have all made Covid-era cocktails to-go measures permanent.

 

Kelsey Kushner