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Illinois Lawmakers Approve Cocktails To Go

House Bill 2682 is on Governor Pritzker’s desk after the House and Senate approved the measure, on their last day of the legislative session. The bill would make the sale of delivery and curbside liquor legal. That means thirsty people across the state can buy their favorite premade cocktails for takeout.

Details of the Cocktail Legislation

Cocktails must be filled into sealed, tamper-proof containers. Likewise, the same rules that apply to other alcohol sales apply to takeout cocktails; the drinks must be kept away from the driver, and the seller must ask for ID proving that the person picking up the drink is at least 21 years old. If signed by the governor, the measure would remain in effect for one year after being signed into law.

Good News to Shuttered Restaurants and Bars

Restaurants and bars, which were forced to close in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, are happy for the relief. They’ve been begging lawmakers or be able to sell cocktails to-go as a way to help them stay afloat during the shutdown.

The measure’s sponsor, Democrat Senator Sara Feigenholtz, represents the 6th district which includes Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park, and the Lakeview neighborhoods in Chicago.

“The 6th Senate District is a premier destination well-known for its independent and vibrant bars, restaurants, and entertainment,” Feigenholtz said. “The enforced closure of these businesses during the pandemic has been very destructive. We’re working every day to provide them with relief, as well as developing new ways to survive the shutdown.”

Cocktails Have Bipartisan Support

Representative Tim Butler, a Republican from Springfield, thinks the measure is a wonderful idea that should be made permanent; Butler is calling on the members of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission to make that happen.

“We should make this measure permanent. I think that hopefully, once we vote on this, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission will understand that the General Assembly wants to make this permanent. And I hope they understand that this is something important, that it happens other places, and it should be happening in Illinois as well,” Butler commented.

Butler went on to joke that the state’s lawmakers could talk about it over cocktails on an upcoming video chat.

The cocktail measure’s House sponsor, State Representative Mike Zalewksi, a Democrat from Riverside, said his first to-go cocktail would be a Dark and Stormy; that’s an old-school Caribbean cocktail made from dark rum, ginger beer, and lime juice. Republican Butler responded to that by joking, “Sounds like the legislature. Dark and stormy.”

State Representative Allen Skillikorn, a Republican from Crystal Lake, said, “As long as the packaging is safe, I hope the legislature will extend this past the year. That just seems to be a common-sense move to really help our restaurants, especially right now. “

The Governor is Go on Take-Out Cocktails But Mayor Lightfoot Wants Changes

Although Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot generally supports the plan, her aides have indicated they are looking into making changes. The legislation does give local municipalities the option to make changes or opt-out completely.

“The City of Chicago is looking into legislative amendments to the local Municipal Code to permit the sales of cocktails to-go, for takeout and delivery in Chicago,” spokeswoman Anel Ruiz said. “We look forward to working with industry leaders, aldermen, and other stakeholders in this latest effort to create a new stream of much-needed income for the city’s hundreds of restaurants, bars, and breweries who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown.”

Bill sponsor Mike Zalewski believes Lightfoot could dispel some of the concerns with a simple ordinance limiting the number of to-go cocktails and ensuring the drinks won’t be consumed in public. Zalewski notes that any follow-up issues concerning the measure could be addressed during the November veto session.

Feigenholtz, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, noted that Mayor Lightfoot and her team are working on including cocktails-to-go into their sidewalk cafe plan. That would be a positive option while the city’s bars remain closed.

 

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