Photo via Peakpx
Photo via Peakpx

The new law would help struggling bars and restaurants recover from the pandemic and allow Michiganders to celebrate summer in a whole new way.

MICHIGAN — Throw all your other summer plans out the window, ‘Ganders: to-go cocktails and social drinking districts are this close to coming to Michigan. 

Wednesday, the state legislature finally approved legislation that would allow bars and restaurants to sell to-go and delivery cocktails as the industry struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Considering alcohol is responsible for about 30% of restaurants’ revenue across the country, it’s a move business owners are welcoming. 

Eater Detroit reports that the bill was previously approved by the House and passed in the Senate by a wide margin with 226 legislators voting in favor of the measure and 36 voting no. Now all it needs is a signature from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. And we’re thinking The Gov, with her famous love of Michigan craft beer, will be on board. 

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Currently, Michigan residents can order an unopened bottle of wine or a growler of beer with their dinner via takeout or delivery. That’s not the case with cocktails, though, meaning business owners have been missing out on a key source of revenue while their booths have been empty during the stay-at-home order — and customers have been missing out on margaritas, mules, boozy milkshakes, and more. 

The new legislation also includes a move to temporarily lower the cost of liquor prices from the state’s Liquor Control Commission. Through 2021, liquor licensees would get a 30% discount from the state, another boon for struggling businesses. 

But one element of the new legislation ‘Ganders are most looking forward to would be local governments’ establishment of outdoor social drinking districts, where people of legal drinking age could purchase their to-go boozy bevvies of choice and drink them off-premises so long as they remain in the designated area. 

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Michigan Joins the Party

According to Eater Detroit, Michigan is poised to join 30 states around the country that now allow to-go liquor. Many of those states passed measures early on to provide relief to business owners during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In fact, the state was so slow to adopt new rules around to-go and delivery cocktails that nearly 30 prominent bars and hospitality groups in Michigan petitioned the state to follow suit back in April.

Now that the change they called for is in effect, Michigan business owners can hopefully look forward to seeing a spike in sales similar to what states like Pennsylvania have seen after instituting to-go liquor legislation. 

Jack Cooper, owner of Cooper’s Seafood House in Scranton, talked to WNEP about what a difference Pennsylvania’s to-go cocktail rules have made for his business. 

“So this morning we come in, I made five gallons, that sold out at about five after 11 a.m. I’ve since made over 35 gallons. It’s crazy!” he said. “Today has been a really fun day because it’s been kind of boring — takeout is not really that busy. And it’s warm out, people are cooking out, so now with this, it gives us another opportunity to make money and stay alive.” 

We’re looking forward to checking in with Michigan bars and restaurants to see how the new legislation boosts their businesses. In the meantime, drop us a line @gandernewsroom on social media and tell us which local spots you can’t wait to order from this summer now that drinks are soon to be back on the to-go menu.

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