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"Mixed Drinks To Go" Extended for Another Year

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AP Photo / Jenny Kane
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The pandemic has brought about many new trends, some of which may end up becoming permanent parts of the landscape.  Among them: takeout cocktails.

A year ago, restaurants were closing their doors and facing an existential crisis.

Delegate Rip Sullivan of Arlington says he was hearing pleas from business owners in his district for lawmakers to come up with creative ways to help businesses survive.  "Restaurants were really struggling. They were shuttered completely," Sullivan recalls.  "I'll never forget I got a call from the owners of the Taq in the Harrison Shopping Center in my district, which makes -- no offense to anyone else -- the best margaritas on the planet.  And they said if we could just sell our margaritas we could stay afloat."

Enter the to-go cocktail, the takeout margarita that helped that restaurant and many others stay afloat. Now Governor Ralph Northam has signed legislation extending the temporary measure allowing the sale of mixed beverages for off-premise consumption for a year.

Senator Adam Ebbin of Alexandria says the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will look at any potential problems.  "As long as we see people using this responsibly and people drink the cocktails at home rather than in their car or somewhere, then I think we're in a good place."

A spokeswoman for the Highway Safety Office says state officials don't have any data to correlate open-container violations or DUI arrests with takeout cocktails. But the law the governor signed does create a study to look at the details of how this new policy works before lawmakers give a green light indefinitely for drinks to go.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.