A Green Light for Cocktails to Go

Oklahoma businesses can now serve liquor for off-premises consumption

 

Cocktails-to-go are now legal in Oklahoma. The provisions of HB 2122 went into effect after midnight last night, meaning bars and restaurants in the state can sell to-go cocktails to customers under certain conditions. The law specifically provides for the sale of a “cocktail, mixed drink, or single-serve wine” for off-premises consumption.

To meet the new requirements, the business must sell the drink in an approved container (e.g., rigid plastic or glass) with a tamper-evident seal. That means no Solo-type plastic cups, nothing with a straw hole, and nothing in a juice box or bag container. Beyond that, the rules are pretty broad, including the lack of a limit on serving size. Bars could, under the new law, sell batched cocktails in 24- or 32-ounce containers, or even larger if the container meets the specifications. The exception here is that wine must be a seven-ounce pour.

The sale must happen under the standard rules of age verification, and if the purchase is curbside, the employee—who also must be over 21—will place the to-go container in the trunk or rear compartment “not readily accessible to the passenger area.” The law also allows that the cocktail can be delivered under the same rules as alcohol delivery that were created in 2020 to help struggling restaurants.

The purchase of to-go cocktails is also not subject to the 13.5 percent liquor tax assessed for on-premises consumption, creating substantial savings for consumers.

While the laws went into effect today—including other provisions for bottle service on-premises, self-serve wine and beer, and common use areas for multiple businesses—many bars and restaurants will not be rolling out their programs anytime soon.

“We don’t have a timeframe for getting it out there,” said J. Mays, the co-owner of The Hamilton and Cafe 7 in Oklahoma City, as well as Roosevelt’s and R Bar in Tulsa. “The hospitality sector is still focused on staffing shortages and supply chain issues right now. We really haven’t had much time to think about cocktails to go, and we really didn’t learn all the requirements and rules until last week. We will have something at some point, and I think it’s a great thing for restaurants and bars, as long as everyone is responsible.”

Other owners like Julia McLish of Barkeep Supply in Midtown and Robby Vernon of Hacienda Tacos said they are elsewhere in the process. Vernon is looking for containers that make sense for his business—costs can be prohibitive—and McLish, who already has containers, is waiting on new labels that both feature her brand and the legal requirements under HB 2122 for labeling the contents. So while today is already a great day for proponents of the cocktails-to-go idea and interested customers, there’s plenty more to look forward to in the days to come.

Categories: Eat & Drink, In The Magazine