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Cocktails To Go Won’t Be Legal In Chicago Until At Least Mid-June

Bars, which have been shut down since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, had hoped for the change quickly so they could get much-needed financial relief.

Cocktails for Hope
Cocktails for Hope
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CHICAGO — Bars hoping to start serving cocktails to go will have to wait a bit longer.

The state Legislature voted through House Bill 2682, which allows bars and restaurants in Illinois to sell pre-mixed cocktails to go, over the weekend, and Gov. JB Pritzker said he’d sign the legislation as soon as possible.

But the city needs to make changes to its municipal code to allow such orders in Chicago — and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday she won’t rush that.

Instead, the mayor is working on an ordinance and gathering input from aldermen, she said. She will wait until the June 17 City Council meeting to try to get the changes approved and legalize cocktails to go here.

Bars, which have been shut down since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, had hoped to use the measure soon for much-needed financial relief.

“We’re gonna wait ’til City Council. This is really something that the City Council needs to take on,” Lightfoot said during a Thursday press conference. “But we feel confident that we’ll now be able to adapt quickly.”

The new measure from the state allows bars and restaurants to sell cocktails in tamper-proof, sealed containers via curbside pickup and delivery. Struggling bar and restaurant owners lobbied Springfield for weeks on the issue, saying they needed revenue from cocktail sales to survive the extended coronavirus shutdown.

“It’s like we have hope again,” Cocktails for Hope co-founder Julia Momose said earlier this week.

Weeks ago, Momose, a partner at the Japanese-inspired West Loop spots Kumiko and Kikkō, launched the initiative Cocktails for Hope and an online petition to drum up support for legalizing to-go cocktails.

Other states — including OregonVirginia and Missouri — have temporarily lifted their bans on pre-mixed cocktail delivery due to the pandemic.

“This isn’t about getting a couple extra bucks in the pocket, this is about saving businesses, saving jobs and helping jumpstart the economy,” Momose previously said.

Momose said the immense support she and her co-founders received these last few weeks pushed the bill forward. The bill “would’ve never been possible without every single person who picked up the phone or wrote an email to their legislator,” she said.

Under the legislation, sellers must ask for identification to prove customers are at least 21 years old and cocktails must be placed in the trunk or the rear compartment of the delivery driver’s car. Bars and restaurants are not required to sell food along with cocktails.

The bill does not apply to third-party delivery companies like Grubhub.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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