"Cocktails to-go" now permanent in Montana

non alcoholic bars
MT State Rep. Katie Zolnikov
Posted at 12:45 PM, Apr 30, 2021

Governor Greg Gianforte recently signed HB 226, making cocktails to-go permanent in Montana. A news release says that "this measure supports hospitality businesses devastated by COVID-19 and provides increased convenience to consumers."

The law states: "Curbside pickup constitutes the sale of alcoholic beverages in original packaging, prepared servings, or growlers that was ordered online or through the phone for pickup from the licensee or agency liquor store during normal business hours and within 300 feet of the licensed premises or agency liquor stores, including a drive-through window. Curbside pickup is intended for consumption somewhere other than the pickup location. It is not intended for delivery to residences or other businesses, including but not limited to restaurants or hotels."

The primary sponsor of the bill was Katie Zolnikov of Billings. Click here to read the full text of the law (PDF).

Mike Whatley of the National Restaurant Association said in January, "“It has been really important to restaurants during this crisis. Typically, alcohol, especially cocktails, is one of your highest margins. When you’re relying more on takeout and delivery, if you’re missing cocktails to-go you’re missing that revenue stream.”

Adam Smith of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said, "Cocktails to-go provided a much-needed lifeline for struggling hospitality businesses and prevented the permanent closure of many in Montana. Now that this measure is permanent, hospitality businesses will have increased stability as they begin the long path to recovery."

According to the news release, more than 30 states began allowing restaurants and/or bars to sell cocktails to-go as a COVID economic relief measure, with Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Arkansas making the COVID-era cocktails to-go measures permanent.

Other states are also considering legislation to extend or make permanent cocktails to-go measures.