Food & Drinks

Oregon Legislators Pass Bill to Allow To-Go Cocktail Sales from Restaurants

Oregon is one step closer to joining the dozens of other U.S. states that allow restaurants to sell cocktails to-go. The Oregon legislature passed a bill Monday that would allow restaurants and bars to sell cocktails and mixed drinks for takeout or through third-party delivery, after months of campaigns and petitions by restaurant and bar workers.

Senate Bill 1801, introduced as a part of a one-day special session, allows bars and restaurants to sell takeout and delivery cocktails, mixed drinks, and single-serving glasses of wine in sealed containers to consume offsite, as long as the customer purchased those drinks with a food item. Those restaurants can’t sell more than two cocktails per “substantial food item.”

The bill also notes a crucial detail when it comes to third-party apps: Delivery sites like Caviar or Postmates would not be able to charge restaurants more than 15 percent of the total order price in fees for using their service for deliveries; that number drops to 5 percent on takeout orders. While Portland caps delivery fees from restaurants at 10 percent, some apps have charged restaurants additional commissions under labels like “marketing fees,” as opposed to delivery fees.

For months, restaurant owners, bartenders, food service workers, and drinkers have fought for the ability to sell hard liquor to-go, as opposed to just beer and full sealed bottles of wine. Some industry workers and restaurant owners have felt that the ability to sell alcohol would provide an additional form of revenue during a financially perilous period. Many thought that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission could simply legalize to-go drinks, but because of the way the Oregon legal code is written, only legislative action could legalize offsite cocktail sales. Legislation finally hit the agenda for the one-day special session December 21, passing the state Senate before it moved on to the House. Rep. Rob Nosse introduced the bill, describing the challenges faced by restaurants and bars during the pandemic. “(Restaurants and bars) operate on narrow margins at the best of times, and we are certainly not in the best of times,” he said.

The bill is now headed to Gov. Kate Brown to sign. From there, the OLCC will meet to plan the rollout of the new cocktail regulations. Once it goes into effect, the new legislation would last for 60 days after Brown lifts the current state of emergency.

• Senate Bill 1801 [Official]• Oregon’s Fight for To-Go Cocktails, Explained [EPDX]• Oregon Senate OKs to-go cocktails, caps third-party delivery fees to help restaurants [KVAL]• What to expect from Oregon’s 1-day special session [OPB]• If Oregon Wants to Keep Its Bars Alive, It Needs to Legalize Takeout Cocktails [EPDX]

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