Jan 5, 2022
‘True lifesaver:’ Brooklyn bars applaud Hochul’s plan to bring back to-go drinks
The governor's plan to push for the legalization of to-go cocktails has sparked a cautious celebration among industry locals
Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that she’s going to push for the legalization of to-go cocktails, a bit of good news that is being greeted with cautious optimism by local restaurants and bars.
In her first State of the State address, Hochul said she wants to permanently legalize the perk after it was abruptly canceled last June.
“Thousands of bars and restaurants, the souls of our neighborhoods, have had to close,” Hochul said in her remarks. “We’re also going to do something bars and restaurants have been asking for; to once again allow the sale of to-go drinks — a critical revenue stream during the lean times last year.”
Cheers, New York!
We’re going to once again allow the sale of to-go drinks – a critical revenue stream during the lean times last year. pic.twitter.com/WctvtA0HXz
— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) January 5, 2022
Former Governor Andrew Cuomo allowed imbibers to take their drinks on a walk back in March 2020, once the Covid-19 pandemic began, via an executive order. It lasted for roughly 15 months before it was suddenly revoked when the state’s other disaster emergency measures expired.
That decision, to put it lightly, pissed off restaurants and bars because as many of them had pivoted their business models to sell more alcohol in order to keep them afloat. Today, Brooklyn establishments are applauding the news—with some trepidation as the law still requires passage in the state legislature in the spring.
Tim Racine, the owner of Young Ethels in South Slope tells Brooklyn Magazine that selling to-go cocktails was a “true lifesaver during Pandemic 1.0.” But he’ll believe it’s back when he sees it.
“I remain cautiously optimistic, however, as every new ‘hey, we’re gonna help your bar survive’ has also brought with it one or more ‘this state or city agency will fine you a thousand bucks for not following their confusing and sometimes contradictory rules,” Racine says. “All in all, it will be nice to cater to folks that like the drinks but hate my ’60s surf-ska-garage rock’ playlist.”
A similar sentiment was echoed by Ivy Mix, the owner restaurant Leyenda, who tells Brooklyn Magazine that selling to-go cocktails was a “nice extra revenue stream” for Cobble Hill cocktail bar and restaurant. “In particular, I loved being able to make people cocktails to go so they could get some delivered with their Seamless order,” she says.
For Katie Richey, the owner of King Mother wine bar in Flatbush, passing the law would allow it bolster its offerings such as their wine club. “We are absolutely thrilled about this news,” she says.
Sage Geyer, the owner of Bar Meridian in Prospect Heights, says the “need for it is now” and hopes passage is “swift.”
“Lifelines like this should have been made permanent after the success of the temporary allowance that was made last year,” Geyer tells Brooklyn Magazine. He wasn’t surprised when the law expired last June because of state laws that have “remained archaic and heavily tied to big spirit companies and their political power.”
You might also like
Meet the women who choose not to have kids (not that it’s any of your business)
Podcasts & Video
Podcasts & Video