(WSYR-TV) — Can I get some beers to-go? Well, as of today, April 9, you can in New York State… if you also buy some food. 

The state defines substantial food to permit to-go alcohol as…

sandwiches, soups or other foods, whether fresh, processed, precooked or frozen. Other foods are foods which are similar in quality and substance to sandwiches and soups; for example, salads, wings, or hotdogs would be of that quality and substance; however, a bag of chips, bowl of nuts, or candy alone are not. Obvious efforts to circumvent the law, for example an unreasonably small portion of soup, a serving of canned beans, a handful of lettuce, or charging a small extra fee for an alcoholic beverage in lieu of a food item not actually ordered or delivered will be treated as a violation of the law.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced legislation allowing takeout drinks as part of the 2023 State Budge Saturday

During the pandemic, when restaurants were not allowed in-house patrons, to-go drinks were crucial in helping businesses achieve their revenue goals. Now, thanks to this new law, for the next three years bars and restaurants can sell to-go alcoholic beverages. 

“New York’s nightlife and hospitality industry is second to none, and by allowing the sale of to-go drinks we will continue to support the industry’s recovery from the pandemic,” Governor Hochul said. “Cheers to both Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie for their help in making this change, which will drive business for the hospitality industry and be a lifeline, helping them comeback stronger than before.” 

Open container laws must be followed when bars and restaurants sell to-go beverages, the Governor says. Also, over the next three years, the law will be closely monitored to ensure businesses are following the procedures closely, and if there are any recommended improvements for businesses and/or consumers. 

A commission, consisting of 21 members, including the Chairman of the State Liquor Authority who shall serve as the Chair of the Commission, the Commissioner of the Department of Tax and Finance or their representative, the Superintendent of the State Police or their representative, the Director of the Division of the Budget or their representative, the Chief Executive Officer of the Empire State Development or their representative, and 16 additional members appointed by the Governor and Legislature, will tasked to address issues including but not limited to:     

  • The industry’s economic impact on the state 
  • Changes in the law and/or SLA resources to speed license application processing 
  • Laws addressing underage consumption 
  • Industry reform and modernization proposals as voted on by industry stakeholders 

 In addition, the FY 2023 State Budget also includes a number of common-sense changes to modernize the ABC Law, including:    

  • Allowing liquor stores to be open Christmas day, should they choose   
  • Allowing veteran’s organizations, such as Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Posts, to obtain licenses when a police officer serves as an officer of the organization     
  • Allowing applicants to provide required notice to their municipality or community board via email, if the municipality or community board elects to accept notice that way; and  
  • Permitting farm manufacturers more flexibility by allowing food trucks or other such businesses to operate on their premises 

Below is the state’s guidance on the sale of to-go drinks.