ALCOHOL TO-GO MAY BE HERE TO STAY: Hochul Announces Permanent Legislation to Legalize Sale of Alcohol for Takeout and Delivery

ALCOHOL TO-GO MAY BE HERE TO STAY: Hochul Announces Permanent Legislation to Legalize Sale of Alcohol for Takeout and Delivery

Posted By: Alexandra Becker

Governor Hochul continues to make strides towards her stated goal of improving New York’s antiquated liquor laws. The Governor’s 2023 budget, released in 2022, included temporary legislation legalizing the sale of alcohol for take-out and delivery from restaurants. That temporary legislation is set to expire next year; however, Governor Hochul recently announced her intentions to permanently legalize the sale of alcohol to-go

The temporary legislation was essentially a revival of then Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order, issued at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when New York became one of 39 states temporarily allowing the sale of alcohol to go. This proved to be a lifeline for the restaurant industry across the country, which was absolutely devastated, first by COVID-related lockdowns and then the subsequent worker shortage combined with rampant increases in food costs.   

Iowa permanently legalized to-go alcohol with a law passed in summer 2020, with many other states taking steps to enact their own similar laws. Both the New York restaurant industry and the public were frustrated when the Executive Order was allowed to expire in 2021, and a standalone bill with respect to alcohol to-go was introduced in the State Assembly but failed to pass.  

Despite the fact that restaurants have long returned to unrestricted operations, both the industry and the majority of the public greeted the return of to-go alcohol with great excitement. Some critics of the concept include liquor store owners, who believe that it will cut into their sales, and others have raised concerns that it will lead to an increase in drunk driving and/or underage access to alcohol. It should be noted, however, that individuals are required to provide proof of identification when accepting delivery of alcohol, whether that is from restaurants, liquor stores or otherwise. Moreover, the sale of alcohol for takeout or delivery should result in individuals consuming alcohol once they’ve reached their destination, rather than doing so at a restaurant, and then getting behind the wheel. 

Under the Executive Order, customers could order full bottles of wine and liquor to go, as well as glasses of wine and mixed drinks, so long as the order also included food. Governor Hochul’s temporary legislation eliminated the ability to buy full bottles of wine or spirits to-go, and requires that any cocktail or glass of wine purchased to-go be sealed in some way, such as with a lid or a cap. The temporary legislation also continues to require that customers purchase a “substantial” food item with to-go alcohol. It will be interesting to see what parameters are proposed in the permanent legislation. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available. 

Contact Whiteman Osterman & Hanna Today

If you have questions regarding the operation of your existing New York licensed business or are contemplating applying for a new license, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Alexandra Becker by e-mail (  or phone (518.487.7725) to see how the Alcoholic Beverage Team at Whiteman Osterman & Hanna may be able to assist.

Practice Area(s):   Alcoholic Beverages