Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has freed the margaritas. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced over the weekend that bars and restaurants may now sell pre-mixed cocktails to-go.
Effectively immediately, these establishments may sell cocktails provided their containers are covered with tape and placed in a plastic bag that's sealed with a zip tie. The waiver applies to any bar or restaurant with "permanent food service capabilities," and any cocktail purchase must be accompanied by at least one food item that's been prepared on-site. Diners who purchase a cocktail to-go may not transport it in the passenger cabin of their vehicles.
Previously, bars and restaurants had been permitted to sell cocktail kits with the liquor in its manufacturer-sealed packaging — not that those restrictions stopped Tex-Mex restaurants statewide from selling frozen margaritas in sealed plastic jugs. Beer and wine must still be sold in their original packaging.
"Operating during this pandemic has proved an incredible challenge for all segments of the alcoholic beverage industry," TABC executive director Bentley Nettles said in a release. "Opening up the ability for these businesses to sell mixed drinks to go will help ease the burden for many of these struggling businesses."
Earning this wavier has been a priority for the Texas Restaurant Association, which hailed the move. Coming just a day after Gov. Abbott reduced restaurants to 50-percent capacity and closed the state's bars, the ability to sell pre-mixed cocktails to-go could be an important source of revenue for businesses that have already been struggling.
“With restaurants employing more than 1.3 million Texans and representing 51 percent of the food dollar, we simply cannot afford to let these critical businesses close for good,” TRA president and CEO Emily Williams Knight said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is an important step forward, giving many hope, and so we’re very grateful to Governor Abbott and our partners in the distilled spirits business for working with us to get restaurants some of the critical relief they need.”