ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR) — As of April 9, you can order alcohol “to go” in New York if you also buy “substantial” food. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced legislation allowing takeout drinks as part of the 2023 State Budge Saturday

The state defines the amount of food necessary to permit to-go alcohol:

“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.”

During the pandemic, when restaurants were not allowed to host patrons in-house, restaurants said to-go drinks were crucial to keep them afloat. Thanks to this new measure, bars and restaurants can sell to-go alcoholic beverages for the next three years. Officials said they will closely monitor the situation to ensure businesses follow procedures and recommend improvements for businesses or consumers. Open container laws are still in place and must be followed when bars and restaurants sell to-go beverages, Hochul said.

“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,” 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 come back stronger than before.”

A 21-member commission—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 address issues like:

  • 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 

The budget modernized drinking regulations in other ways:

  • Allowing liquor stores to be open on Christmas
  • 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