HARRISBURG – The Senate today passed legislation to statutorily implement allowances provided to the restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to expanding consumer access to spirit-based Ready-to-Drink cocktails, according Senator Mike Regan.
“The one good thing to come from the COVID-19 shutdown was the recognition that Pennsylvania’s businesses do not need to be constrained by overregulation from state government,” said Senator Regan, who is Chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee. “This bill will allow Pennsylvania employers to continue rebuilding and growing in the wake of the pandemic.”
House Bill 1154 makes permanent the sale of mixed drinks to-go by restaurant or hotel licensees for off-premise consumption. Originally, mixed drinks to-go was a temporary measure allowed during the COVID-19 disaster declaration. A licensee that chooses to sell mixed drinks to-go must display a sign that the product is to be transported in an area of the vehicle that is not readily accessible to the driver, and each drink must be affixed with a label designating that it contains alcohol.
HB 1154, as amended in Regan’s committee, provides additional COVID provisions on a temporary basis to allow for extended licensed premises for outdoor dining, off-premise catering permits without restrictions, the waiving of fees, and an additional year of safekeeping of liquor licenses by licensees that are not able to operate. HB 1154 also allows a holder of a liquor license to sell their stock of liquor and wine to another license holder when they close their business.
Additionally, HB 1154 allows for a different type of product called Ready-to-Drink cocktails, or RTDs, to be sold by liquor licensees, including restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and beer distributors, for off-premise consumption.
“These cocktails are not to be confused with mixed drinks to-go, which are made by bartenders in a restaurant and put in a to-go cup for consumers,” said Regan. “RTDs are manufactured and sold in sealed containers with a known ingredient list and alcohol content.”
The total maximum alcohol by volume content, or ABV, allowed for sale under the legislation is 12.5%, comparable to many beer products available for sale to consumers. Container size would also be limited to 16 ounces with a maximum total sale for off-premise consumption of 192 fluid ounces, apart from sales by beer distributors.
“The way in which liquor is sold in Pennsylvania is evolving, and consumers want both better selection and more convenience when purchasing products,” said Regan. “This is a common-sense measure that will significantly increase state revenue while helping businesses across the Commonwealth.”
CONTACT: Bruce McLanahan, (717)-787-8524