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Restaurants can now sell pre-mixed cocktails to go — with restrictions

Mixed drinks to go in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott is allowing some Texas restaurants and bars to sell pre-mixed alcoholic beverages to go — with restrictions. Previously, restaurants were only allowed to sell to-go cocktail kits that had to be mixed at home. Staff photo by Alex Copeland

Texas bars were closed by order of Gov. Greg Abbott on June 26, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grab a pre-mixed cocktail to go.

Some Texas restaurants and bars are now permitted to make and sell mixed drinks for pickup and delivery thanks to waivers issued by Abbott, announced the Texas Restaurant Association and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission on June 27. Previously, restaurants could only sell cocktail kits with alcohol in its original packaging.

Restaurants and bars have been hard hit during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown and mandatory closings.

“With restaurants employing more than 1.3 million Texans and representing 51 percent of the food dollar, we simply cannot afford to let these critical businesses close for good,” said Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association, in a statement. “(The) announcement is an important step forward, giving many hope, and we’re very grateful to Governor Abbott and our partners in the distilled spirits business for working with us to get restaurants some of the critical relief they need.”

The expanded waiver is only for restaurants and bars with mixed beverage permits and permanent kitchens. 

Businesses that serve mixed drinks must follow these rules for both take-out and delivery orders:

  • The drink must be ordered with food.
  • The drink must be mixed on site.
  • The drink must be sealed with tape or an adhesive label with the name of the originating restaurant and the phrase “alcoholic beverage.”
  • The drink must be placed in a bag that is sealed with a zip tie.
  • The drinks cannot be transported in the passenger area of the vehicle.

Open containers of alcohol are still strictly prohibited. In this context, a mixed drink must be in a sealed container before it is delivered to or picked up by a consumer. If the container has holes through which someone could drink the beverage with the lid intact, it would be considered an illegal open container.