Governor says he’ll sign bill to allow to-go cocktails across Pa.

John McDevitt
May 19, 2020 - 12:58 pm

UPDATED: 3:40 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday he will sign a bill to permit restaurants to sell to-go cocktails across the state.

The governor's decision has been anxiously awaited by restaurant and bar owners.

Beer has been allowed for curbside purchases so far, but many restaurant owners say this is a game-changer. The bill will allow licensed restaurants to sell cocktails on their takeout menus. 

“I do plan to sign it,” Wolf said Tuesday. “It was passed, I think unanimously, in both chambers of the General Assembly, so I will sign it.”

Some restaurant owners have said they plan to use large juice pouches to serve the drinks. Bar Avalon in West Chester already has a catchy name for them: the “Fauci Pouchy.”

Fauci Pouchy
Bar Avalon

“This will certainly help increase the numbers,” said John Brandt-Lee, owner of Bar Avalon, “not to mention the fact that it is a higher profit margin in the alcohol.”

Many businesses already had the liquor in stock, and they were simply unable to use it because of the restrictions.

“This is all paid-for product that they can now convert in some sort of revenue,” added Brant-Lee.

The governor said last week that he was undecided and still reviewing the bill, but that has since changed. The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support from the state House and Senate.

According to the bill, to-go cocktails must be in a sealed container with a lid or cap. Containers with openings for straws must be covered with an additional seal before the sale.

The drinks must be at least 4 ounces and no more than 64 ounces in a single transaction. To-go drinks cannot be sold after 11 p.m.

Within 60 days of the bill becoming law, restaurants will need to use a scanning device to check the ID of any customer who appears to be under 35.

Teddy Sourias owns several Center City restaurants and bars, including Brü Craft & Wurst, Tradesman's and Blume.

“We actually already have the containers in place,” he said of the specific cocktail packaging. “We have the stickers that cover the holes. There are lids on some of the cocktails, so we have that covered.”

Derek Gibbons, who owns several Philadelphia establishments including "Leda and the Swan" in Center City, says the action will give Pennsylvania restaurants and bars a much needed economic boost.

"Most places, we have tens of thousands of dollars of liquor inventory, so the ability to liquidate that finally I think is really going to be kind of a shot in the arm that everyone is looking for, but it will definitely be some added revenue that we all have been patiently awaiting, that's for sure,” he said. 

Sourias hopes to increase business by 30% just from alcohol sales.

Wolf will explain further regulations once he signs the bill, though he did not say when he plans to sign it.

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KYW Newsradio's Rachel Kurland contributed to this report.