Virginia Extends ‘Cocktails-to-Go’ Laws for One More Year

Photo by Suttisak Olari/istockphotuo.com licensed to The Zebra Press LLC)
Photo by Suttisak Olari/istockphotuo.com licensed to The Zebra Press LLC)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many restaurants were shuttered, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) created a safe and secure way for restaurants to offer cocktails to go with a meal. The General Assembly has now continued this practice in statute for one year.

In addition, restaurants who are delivering wine and beer can continue to do so for another year. .

A few other laws enacted to help the alcoholic beverage industry and related businesses are effective July 1 as well:

Virtual Fundraising Events (HB1973) – This bill allows a nonprofit corporation or association conducting virtual fundraising events to exercise the privilege of the license during the virtual fundraising event, including the sale and shipment of wine in closed containers.

Special Event Licenses (HB2266 and SB1471) – Both bills authorize ABC, after the adoption of a local ordinance, to increase the frequency and duration of what are currently known as special event licenses. The new legislation renames this license a “designated outdoor refreshment area” license. The legislation will allow localities to work with ABC to create consumption areas in portions of the jurisdiction that are likely to be entertainment or walking districts. ABC licensees in the designated districts will be able to sell alcohol to patrons who can consume the beverages outside the licensed establishment so long as they remain in the designated outdoor area, which could consist of several blocks.

Low Alcohol Beverages in ABC Retail Stores (SB1428) – Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, ABC will cease to sell low alcohol beverages in its retail stores unless they were manufactured by a Virginia distiller. Low alcohol beverages are spirits-based drinks consisting of 7.5% or less alcohol by volume. ABC retail stores will market Virginia-based low alcohol beverages and those products over 7.5% alcohol by volume. Low alcohol beverages are statutorily treated as wine for all purposes and this change is consistent with the treatment of Virginia wines in ABC’s retail stores.