Q: I've heard about cocktails-to-go and I'd like to sell these drinks at my restaurant. What do I need to know in order to sell cocktails-to-go?
A: This question is particularly timely. On July 18, 2023, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law Senate Bill 141, which provides Michigan restaurants with the ability to sell carryout cocktails and other alcoholic products permanently. Michigan originally legalized cocktails-to-go in the summer of 2020 for a temporary period, in an effort to provide economic stimulation to bars and restaurants during the pandemic. Now, cocktails-to-go is here to stay.
When considering selling cocktails-to-go, liquor licensees should understand what drinks they are allowed to sell under their applicable liquor license.
On-premise licensees, such as bars, hotels, or restaurants, may sell and deliver carryout beer, wine, mixed spirit drinks, spirits, and mixed drinks/cocktails filled in qualified containers. A qualified container is a clean, sealable container that has a liquid capacity of one (1) gallon or less.
A Specially Designated Merchant (“SDM”) licensee and a Specially Designated Distributor (“SDD”) licensee may not sell or deliver these types of alcoholic products to go in qualified containers; however, a SDM may fill and sell growlers of beer pursuant to the Michigan Liquor Control Code.
SDD and SDM licensees may sell and deliver carryout beer, wine, mixed spirit drinks, and spirits in an original container. Bar, hotel, and restaurant on-premise licensees cannot sell these types of to-go alcoholic products in original containers, unless they have a SDM license. In that case, those on-premise licensees may only sell, in original containers, beer and wine.
Keeping the above statements in mind, on-premise licensees, such as bars, hotels, and restaurants, should also consider the following:
We strongly encourage following the above considerations if you plan to sell cocktails or other alcoholic products to-go. Doing so will help ensure you are properly following the Michigan Liquor Control Code, while taking advantage of this relatively new opportunity to sell carryout drinks at your bar, hotel, or restaurant.
If you have any further questions regarding selling alcoholic products to-go, or selling alcoholic products generally, under the Michigan Liquor Control Code, please contact a professional.