Back to Blog

The Impact of To-Go Cocktail Legislation

04/21/2021 • Shawn Patrick

The restrictions distilleries have faced in the past would have destroyed other businesses. Restrictive laws rooted in prohibition-era morality have plagued distilleries for decades. The good news is that some states are reforming the laws which have hobbled distilleries.  One that we’ve seen a lot of lately is drinks to-go.

A Better Customer Experience

Any time a business can't give the customer what they want, the result is always an unhappy customer experience. The reason behind the "no" is irrelevant. Most visitors at a distillery understand that there are TTB regulations and state laws the distillery must follow. 

They don't blame the distillers, but an unfulfilled customer want translates to lost sales. The negative experience can also mean negative word-of-mouth advertising. A former visitor telling their friend about the beautiful scenery on the drive over, the friendly staff, and the fantastic distilling setup may not mean much when they say that no one is allowed to taste the spirits or that the tasting is severely limited.  But, when that can be changed into, you have to get the drinks to go, the narrative changes.

An additional benefit of the relaxed limits on drinks is how some distilleries can now offer cocktails and other mixed drinks. 

A large number of people don't enjoy drinking spirits straight. These customers would rather see how your whiskey tastes in a crafted cocktail than downing a shot of it for the tasting.  If they can get a drink “to go” then it’s even better.

Many distillers focus on more exotic liquors or imbue their spirits with botanicals or other ingredients that are new to many visitors. For these unique spirits to really be showcased, the front-of-house bartender can whip up exciting cocktails that are spirit forward. 

Distilleries being able to sell mixed drinks to go allows them to educate customers on bringing out the spirit's unique elements they may otherwise never learn about.

Adapting the Business Plan

The new laws regarding “to go” spirits will affect any business plan for opening a distillery or how an existing distiller handles distillery operations. A distillery may have only needed a small tasting room to hand out a single ounce of spirits. Now they may need to have food offerings to even sell their cocktails to-go. 

This will mean new staff, menu creation, and additional products to order. These changes will impact any distillery financial model. Flexibility is critical for new distilleries and existing distilleries to grow and thrive in this changing environment.

Changing Laws

Not only are there more laws regarding spirits, but those laws are also complex, often bordering on the arcane and leaving distillers jumping through hoops on a federal, state, and local level. It's vital to stay on top of the latest laws and regulations in your state.

Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida are among the states that have already passed or are looking to pass legislation that would make cocktails to-go a permanent staple after temporary allowances during the Coronavirus pandemic. The food and beverage industry has already lost its fair share during the pandemic. Making cocktails to-go permanent would be a great way to boost sales and bring back lost jobs in the industry. 


Cocktails to-go legislation would not only provide more ways to create impactful connections with distillery guests and craft spirit enthusiasts, but it would also ease the burden that the Coronavirus pandemic has placed on the industry for over a year. Many states have already begun the process of making these temporary allowances permanent. 

Incorporating distillery management software can help distillers manage their inventory and operations and provide peace of mind when everything else in the industry seems so chaotic. Knowing your operations and reports are taken care of can free you to be flexible when regulations change on a dime. To learn how you can get involved in legislation that affects you, contact your state guild or visit DISCUS.