JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri restaurants will be able to sell to-go cocktails permanently under a bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday.
When restaurants had their indoor capacities limited during the coronavirus pandemic, the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control temporarily relaxed rules so they could sell mixed drinks to go.
The bill Parson signed makes the policy permanent, so long as the alcoholic drinks are sold along with food and in tamper-proof, sealed containers intended to discourage drinking while driving.
The legislation also will do away with some of the remaining restrictions on Sunday alcohol sales.
Under current law, businesses licensed to sell alcohol by the drink can do so between 6 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday but are limited to sales between 9 a.m. and midnight on Sunday. The new law will allow Sunday sales during the same hours as other days beginning Aug. 28.
Food and drink businesses pivoted early on in the pandemic when health orders forced them to close indoor dining. When restaurants could only offer food to-go, they also came up with creative ways to sell drinks, too.
Mission Taco Joint owner Adam Tilford was one of the to-go cocktail trailblazers, offering premixed margaritas that could be bought along with his shop’s popular tacos and burritos. The margarita jugs were wildly popular, bringing in thousands of dollars that helped keep the business afloat.
But he and other businesses soon caught the eye of state regulators, which led to statewide restrictions on how drinks were sold to-go.
The Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control briefly mandated Missouri restaurants and bars to sell mix-at-home kits, saying alcohol could only be sold in its original packaging.
Tilford, along with other restaurateurs, lobbied – and won. The state waived the restriction on to-go cocktails, which the governor has previously supported as well. This allowed restaurants and bars to continue selling pre-mixed drinks to customers ordering for pickup or curbside.
The new law is effective immediately.