Colorado extends takeout cocktails law for restaurants until July 2025

Colorado first allowed restaurants to sell cocktails for takeout or delivery when the pandemic hit in 2020 and businesses desperately needed relief. Then in 2021, Colorado extended the law to stay in effect until July 2025.

But last week, Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill terminating the deadline that would have ended the practice next year – essentially making alcohol-to-go permanent across the state. “When alcohol-to-go was officially introduced that first week, it helped so many restaurants,” said Daniel Ramirez, CEO of Los Dos Potrillos, a Mexican chain with locations across the south Denver metro area.

About 93% of restaurants statewide relied on the service to make up for money lost during the pandemic, according to the Colorado Restaurant Association Los Dos Potrillos — with locations in Centennial, Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Parker and Castle Rock — sells its margaritas to-go and saw a huge influx during COVID-19 shutdowns, Ramirez said.

The service was incredibly needed during the time of uncertainty for the restaurant industry, he said. Now, it’s here to stay.  “It continues giving restaurants the ability to share the hospitality not only inside the restaurants, but to continue it outside of the restaurant itself,” Ramirez said.

Takeout alcohol’s popularity waned as restaurants opened back up but the chain is still seeing a slight revenue boost from takeout orders adding on alcoholic beverages, he added, and it’s most common for catering orders. “If someone wants to order a ‘Fiesta pack,’ which is a fajita pack that serves five people, they tend to get more margaritas and kind of make their own fiesta at home,” Ramirez said.

There are still several legal restrictions attached to the pandemic-era service: Restaurants have to have a special permit in addition to their liquor license, the drinks have to be in a sealed container, size restrictions range from 75 ml to 150 ml depending on the alcohol used and must be sold between 7 a.m. and midnight. The bill indefinitely extending the to-go alcohol service was sponsored by Rep. William Lindstedt, Rep. Rose Pugliese, Sen. Dylan Roberts and Sen. Nick Hinrichsen.  “It was no longer like the make or break for any businesses, but it was this nice add on,” said Colin Larson, director of government affairs at the Colorado Restaurant Association and former state representative who sponsored the 2021 bill. “People have grown accustomed to it.”

But many restaurants held back on marketing and promoting their to-go drinks because of the 2025 end date, Larson said. The new law will give businesses more confidence into integrating it more into their business. While alcohol takeout isn’t as needed as it was during the pandemic, accounting for about 5% to 10% of a restaurant’s alcohol sales, Larson said right now “every little bit helps.” “It’s a tight business and restaurants have been experiencing a lot of difficulties over the last few years … so this is just going to be a nice way to generate a little extra revenue,” he said.

“Restaurants lost more than $3 billion in revenue during 2020 alone, and have struggled with inflationary pressures, labor shortages, and operational uncertainty ever since,” said Colorado Restaurant Association president Sonia Riggs in a statemen.  Keeping alcohol-to-go is a “win-win”, Riggs said. “It’s extremely popular with the public and provides restaurants with a measure of confidence, knowing they can factor in this additional revenue stream as they make plans for the future,” she said.


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