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Bill Permitting To-Go Cocktails in Georgia Is Now in the Governor’s Hands

If signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, the bill would make to-go cocktails from restaurants legal in Georgia

The Third Door
Beth McKibben is the editor and staff reporter for Eater Atlanta and has been covering food and cocktails locally and regionally for 12 years.

A bill to make to-go cocktails from restaurants legal in Georgia has passed the General Assembly and now heads to the governor for a final stamp of approval. The House backed SB 236 on Monday, 120-48, after the Senate passed the measure, 36 to 10, earlier in March.

Once signed into law, restaurants would be allowed to sell up to two cocktails per takeout “entree ordered” in approved, sealed containers. Patrons picking up to-go cocktails by car must then place these drinks in the glove box, locked trunk, or in the last seat in the back of a vehicle without a trunk. As with other restaurant-related alcohol legislation in Georgia, local municipalities can opt out of the to-go cocktail allowance.

Permitting restaurants to legally sell to-go cocktails offers these businesses a chance to capture even higher profit margins and recover more quickly after a devastating year financially brought on by the pandemic.

“We are appreciative of our state legislators’ support of Georgia’s restaurant industry in passing this bill,” Georgia Restaurant Association president Karen Bremer says in a prepared statement. “By allowing cocktails to-go, restaurants that are still struggling to keep their doors open now have another opportunity to offer guests a full-service dining experience in their own homes.”

Over the last decade, Georgia has slowly begun to update its antiquated alcohol laws, including permitting Sunday retail alcohol sales, allowing the sale of alcohol from restaurants on Sundays, starting at 11:30 a.m., and permitting limited direct sales from the state’s breweries and distilleries.

Home delivery of beer, wine, and liquor from restaurants, bars, some package and retail stores, and grocery stores became legal in Georgia late last year. The new law currently excludes the state’s breweries and distilleries. This, too, is expected to change as the state continues amending laws surrounding the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol.

A new beer bill, SB 219, is currently making its way through the state General Assembly. If passed, the bill would permit Georgia breweries to transfer beer between locations and increase the amount of beer per year breweries can sell directly to customers. While the state’s largest craft breweries will benefit from the bill’s passage, the state’s smaller breweries would likely never meet the annual production cap proposed in the bill and still be saddled with the 288-ounce daily to-go cap on direct sales to consumers.