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Cocktails To Go Finally Allowed In Chicago After City Council Vote

The city also approved other rules that aim to make it easier for bars and restaurants to open outdoor dining on sidewalk cafes.

Julia Momose, partner at Kumiko + Kikkō, is one of the founders of Cocktails for Hope, an effort to legalize pre-mixed cocktail delivery and pickup in Illinois.
Courtesy of Sammy Faze Photography
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CHICAGO — The city will finally allow bars and other places to sell cocktails to go in a bid to help the industry make it through the coronavirus pandemic.

The City Council approved a measure legalizing the practice during a Wednesday meeting. The changes mean restaurants and bars can sell mixed drinks to go, though only for the next year.

The state made it legal earlier this month, but Chicago had to make changes to its municipal code for it to be allowed here.

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.

At City Council Wednesday, aldermen also approved other new rules that aim to make it easier for bars and restaurants to implement outdoor dining on sidewalk cafes.

Under the ordinance, the city is reducing the fees for sidewalk cafe permits by 75 percent. Businesses who have already been granted a permit this year will receive a refund.

Restaurants and bars will also be able to expand their sidewalk cafes in front of a neighboring business as long as that business is not a restaurant or bar.

The city is also expediting the sidewalk cafe permit process by removing a requirement that the permits be considered by City Council. On average, the requirement added 30 days to the issuance timeline, city officials said.

The city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection have issued more than 400 sidewalk cafe permits in 2020 and another 670 are in in the final stages of issuance, officials said.

“Chicago’s neighborhood businesses have been deeply impacted by the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, and it’s our job to do everything we can to help them thrive,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “…By removing regulatory burdens and providing the necessary relief these establishments need, we can further reinvigorate our communities on Chicago’s road to recovery.”

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