What you can expect when you order your to-go cocktail

OREGON.- Many restaurants have been asking for a to-go cocktail option since June to help recover lost revenue from limits on indoor dining.

Now that they have the choice, they’re figuring out the best ways to follow guidelines while also serving customers.

It has been about a week since Governor Kate Brown signed a bill allowing to-go cocktails. In that time, restaurants and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission worked to re-imagine how drinks are served in this new normal.

“We’re excited! Anything new in our industry is exciting to us,” said Tom Dubois, manager of Louie’s of Ashland.

For many restaurants across Oregon, the to-go cocktails bill opens a new window of opportunity. For Louie’s in Ashland, it has been a long time coming.

“We were very hopeful that this was something we could have had throughout the summer and then finally when it was put into law, it was exciting for us,” Dubois said.

But the new measure comes with a number of regulations from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Drinks have to be completely sealed, bought with a food item, and follow specific amount limits for individual liquor and wine servings. These guidelines also take into consideration more than just restaurants.

“We try to work with all of our partners, whether that be the industry, public health and safety, as well as legislators. We try to inform people about what needs to happen and what will be the outcome,” said Bryant Haley, the alcohol spokesperson for the OLCC. He says the commission understands the critical lens the industry is under with this new bill.

“This is an opportunity for the industry to shine and show we can do this right and we can do this safely,” Haley said.

According to Haley, restaurants are also well aware of all the changes they have to make to keep this privilege.

“The licensee has to rethink ‘how is it going to work when it comes out the door, what’s that look like, what’s our packaging’ all that,” he said.

“We’ll do what we think could be something that could be usable, and then we’ll go back to the regulations, then we’ll tweak that, then we’ll go back to the regulations,” Dubois of Louie’s explained.

At Louie’s, they say they are working hard to maintain a high quality product while following the rules.  They say they benefit from having their own delivery service and drivers.

“They’re fully trained in how to deliver, to check for ids, present the product nicely to people, so we don’t have to worry about third parties,” Louie’s manager said.

At the OLCC,  those third party delivery groups will largely inform how the delivery part of to-go cocktails goes.

“We’re going to really look at how this third party plays into the whole equation. And I have a feeling that this will also be taken a look at also with the legislature, with how cocktails to go went particularly with the delivery,” Haley said.

Both sides understand that following the rules now could benefit them in the long run, especially if this were to become a permanent measure.

“The magnifying glass is on now, lets see what happens, and see how we can improve it. Trim it in if needed and expand it where maybe we were a little short sighted before on what the market actually needs,” said Haley.

As of now, the bill is set to end sixty days after governor brown lifts the state’s declaration of emergency. The OLCC has an info page on drinks to-go here.

Grace Smith is co-anchor for NBC5 News at 6. The Chicago native is a recent graduate of University of Miami with a Communication Honors degree specializing in Broadcast Journalism. She minored in Creative Writing and focused her senior thesis on social media usage and engagement. During her time at the University of Miami, she anchored multiple award-winning student television programs, covering everything from music festivals to the Super Bowl. Though she loved Miami's beaches, she's thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest where she can experience all four seasons and have a real Christmas tree! When she’s not at work, you can find Grace glued to any television showing live sports (especially if it's the Chicago Bears) or attempting a new recipe as she learns to cook.
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