To-go Drinks Are Returning to New York to Help Restaurants, Bars

Cheers to that.

Months after what many New Yorkers considered to be a bright spot of the pandemic disappeared, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that bars and restaurants in the state will once again be permitted to sell alcoholic beverages to-go.

In her State of the State speech Wednesday, Hochul confirmed that take-away drinks were coming back. The decision comes as many restaurants and bars have cut back on hours or shut down to deal with staffing shortages caused by the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

The program was originally introduced during the early days of the pandemic to help bars and restaurants stay afloat as indoor dining was banned. It ran until June 2021 when the emergency regulation expired and lawmakers did not renew it.

Unlike the last time though, this decision won't be effective immediately. Gov. Hochul's proposition must still go through the state legislature.

ustomers social distance while waiting for orders outside Extra Virgin in the West Village during the coronavirus pandemic
TheStewartofNY/Getty Images

However this time, to-go cocktails may be a permanent change in New York that long outlasts the pandemic. In the 2022 State of the State book, Hochul's administration that the governor intends to "permanently allow for the sale of to-go drinks for off-premises consumption to continue supporting the recovery of bars and restaurants."

Cocktails are for sale to go at Dudley's bar and restaurant in Manhattan as the Coronavirus
Victor J. Blue/Getty Images

The decision has already been lauded by several New York restaurant groups.

"Cheers to Governor Hochul for announcing her support to permanently bring back drinks to go at restaurants and bars," Andrew Rigie, the president of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, told NBC New York. "The drinks to go policy provides critically important revenue streams to struggling restaurants and bars and is extraordinarily popular with the public, unsurprisingly."

The governor also announced that the state would provide a tax credit for restaurants purchasing COVID-related equipment like outdoor heating and seating.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at

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