Texas bars and restaurants can now serve mixed drinks to go, with some limitations

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Saturday, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced Gov. Greg Abbott waived some laws that prohibited companies with mixed drink licenses from selling take-out alcohol.

The TABC has, however, placed some regulations around sales.

Alcohol orders must be accompanied by a food order.

Businesses must hold Mixed Beverage (MB) permits and must also have permanent on-site food service capabilities in order to participate.

Jack Zimmermann, owner of Devil May Care, said the old model of take-out alcohol just isn’t cutting it, he says he’s adapted to the ever-changing COVID-19 regulations.

“We were very limited in the types of alcohol we could offer,” said Jack Zimmermann. “There were some frustrating moments along the way, but we’re still here. For cocktails, it gave us a very narrow window to operate.

Previously, alcohol had to be packaged and sealed in its original container. The bottle size had to be 375 ML or less. Zimmermann says many spirits companies don’t make bottles of these sizes.

According to the TABC, take-out alcohol can be sold under these conditions:

  • Beers, ales, wines and / or distilled spirits can be picked up or delivered only when accompanied by an order of food that has been prepared on the premises of the company
  • Beer, beer and wine must be in their original container and with their original seal
  • Distilled spirits mixed with a beverage are in a container that has been sealed with an adhesive label showing the MB permit and the words “alcoholic beverage”. Companies must then place the drinks in a bag that closes with a zipper do not carried in the passenger seat of a vehicle
  • Pre-mixed drinks can now exceed 375 milliliters, but companies must ensure the amount of alcohol follows responsible serving practices
  • Distilled spirits can be sold for take-out or for delivery in their sealed containers by the manufacturer

Not all restaurants and bars are able to ramp up with this new model. Nightcap Restaurant and Bar says they were just starting to get there with their feet on the ground, until TABC shut them down on Friday night.

The current decree stipulates that if a bar or similar establishment receives 51% of its income from alcohol sales, then it must close its dining room.

“Operating during this pandemic has proven to be an incredible challenge for all segments of the alcoholic beverage industry,” said TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles. “Opening up the possibility for these companies to sell mixed drinks on the go will help ease the burden on many of these struggling businesses. “

TABC says they will regulate this and plan to suspend licenses if necessary.

TABC agents visited 628 bars across Texas on Friday night, finding just 30 bars open in violation of the governor’s order. After TABC officers spoke to management and provided them with the decree, 28 bars agreed to close their doors. TABC says two remained open, defying the governor’s decree. TABC issued an emergency order to suspend the liquor licenses of these bars for 30 days.

Companies that have issued an emergency order for a 30-day license suspension are:

  • The whiskey girl, Abilene
  • Outlaw Longview, Longview

The move comes after Abbott announced the closure of bars Friday at noon, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The reopening of the bars was originally part of Abbott’s phased reopening plan for Texas businesses. Restaurant capacity has also been capped at 50%.

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