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Cocktails To-Go Could Become Permanently Legal In Chicago Under New Proposal

Mayor Lori Lightfoot hopes allowing cocktails to-go would help bars and restaurants that have struggled during the pandemic.

Cocktails for Hope
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CHICAGO — Cocktails to-go could stick around for Chicago thanks to a proposal from Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The state and city allowed businesses to sell mixed drinks and some other alcoholic beverages to-go at the start of the pandemic as a way to keep bars and restaurants afloat. On Wednesday, Lightfoot introduced a package to City Council that calls for reforms to help businesses — including making cocktails to-go permanently legal.

RELATED: Lightfoot Proposes Financial Relief, Cutting Red Tape For Businesses In Hopes Of Helping Them Recover From Pandemic

“Allowing these businesses to continue to sell cocktails to go will boost economic activity, cultural vibrancy and workforce opportunities,” according to Lightfoot’s proposal.

The measure needs City Council approval.

Chicago would need the state Legislature to pass a measure legalizing cocktails to-go, as well, since the state’s original rule is set to expire next week. Reps. Sara Feigenholtz, a Democrat for the 6th District, and Mike Zalewski, a Democrat for the 23rd District, have pushed for a statewide extension of cocktails to-go.

Lightfoot’s proposed ordinance says a “cocktail” would be any single serving of wine or a beverage obtained by mixing alcohol with non-alcoholic ingredients like fruit juice, lemonade, cream or soda. The drink would need to be filled and sealed in a licensed bar or restaurant’s location with a temper-evident lid.

Only businesses with a tavern license or consumption on premises license would be able to participate. Businesses with package goods licenses would not be part of the program.

The drinks cannot have lids with holes for sipping or inserting a straw, nor can they be in paper, plastic or foam containers. The drinks would need tamper-evident lids or caps, meaning they’d need to be wax-dipped, shrink-wrapped or protected in another way.

Lightfoot’s proposal also bans third-party delivery apps from delivering the to-go cocktails. Only employees of the business selling the cocktail could deliver the drink or provide it to the customer via pickup.

Employees would have to be 21 and would have to ensure the person getting the cocktail is at least 21 years old. If the drinks had to go into a car, they would need to be placed in the trunk or the back of the car where they’re not easily accessible.

And the drinks would need to have labels that specify what is in the cocktail and the volume of the drink, as well as information about the business that sold the cocktail.

The city’s original cocktails to-go ordinance would be repealed as part of the measure.

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