North Carolina passes spirits-friendly bill


The new bill allows for the permanent sale of cocktails to-go, reduces taxes on ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, and permits alcohol to be sold on holidays.

North Carolina is the 29th state to make to-go cocktails permanent, with the state requiring the drinks to be ordered with food

North Carolina governor Roy Cooler signed SB 527 earlier this week, relaxing some of the state’s beverage alcohol laws. With the new bill, North Carolina will become the 29th state in the US to permit cocktails to-go.

In addition to authorising the sale of to-go and delivery cocktails, the bill will exempt pre-mixed cocktails up to 13% ABV from the state’s mixed beverage tax, and allow for local ABC stores to sell on New Year’s Day, 4 July and Labor Day (2 September).

“The signing of SB 527 is a win for North Carolina’s spirits consumers,” Andy Deloney, Distilled Spirits Council of the US senior vice-president and head of state public policy, said.

“With governor Cooper’s signature, North Carolinians will be able to take a delicious cocktail to-go from their favourite restaurant and pick up a special spirits bottle even on some big holidays. Additionally, restaurants will see lower taxes on highly popular ready-to-drink cocktails. We are grateful to see both the legislature and the governor support these market modernisations.”

To-go cocktails must be made with a food purchase and placed in tamper-evident containers. Temporary, pandemic-associated measures were sunset in June 2021, but like other states, North Carolina is making to-go cocktails a permanent fixture of the modern dining landscape.

As states realise the long-term impact to-go cocktails can have on restaurants, more are passing similar provisions. Since March, Colorado, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Indiana have all passed bills to make to-go cocktails permanent, while New York passed a five-year extension.

This wave of bills comes after an initial 16 states legalised to-go cocktails permanently in July 2021.

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