Can you serve alcohol to go?

Great question – can a restaurant serve ToGo alcohol. The more important question, here, is: “Are you licensed to serve alcohol?” If you are, beer & wine or mixed beverages? If you aren’t, apply here. If you are licensed to serve mixed beverages, in Virginia, here are your FAQ’s, answered:

VA ABC ToGo mixed beverages
VA ABC ToGo drinks in Virginia

What containers are approved for cocktails to go?

  • All cocktails and mixed beverages must be served in a container provided by the licensee.
  • All contents of the cocktail or mixed beverages must be 16 ounces or less. This includes ice, but there is no requirement for a cocktail or drink to be served with ice.
  • If a container has a lid with a straw hole or sipping hole, the lid may be used if all hole(s) are completely covered and rendered inoperable. A licensee may place a sticker or tape over the holes making it a solid lid. A lid that is difficult to secure may also be secured with tape. A second option would be to wrap the entire lid and cup in a plastic wrap that creates a solid top and secure lid.

Who is liable if alcohol is delivered to underage or intoxicated customer?
The individual who makes an illegal sale is criminally responsible and therefore may be arrested. A conviction of the offense may result in a fine, jail time or both. The business is administratively responsible and may be issued an administrative violation report that could result in the suspension or revocation of the ABC license, as well as a monetary penalty.

What are the consequences of delivery to underage or intoxicated person?
The individual who makes an illegal sale is criminally responsible and therefore may be arrested. A conviction of the offense may result in a fine, jail time or both. The business is administratively responsible and may be issued an administrative violation report that could result in the suspension or revocation of the ABC license, as well as a monetary penalty. If you have been issued a violation and have questions about preparing for your hearing, let’s talk: 800-785-0161  

What are the Delivery Driver requirements?
The delivery driver must have a valid driver’s license and be at least 21 years old to deliver mixed drinks or cocktails.

Does happy hour pricing apply to delivery orders (no discounting after 9 p.m.)?
Yes, happy hour pricing applies to delivery orders (No discounts are permitted after 9 p.m.)

Can a restaurant offer and advertise different pricing for mixed beverages “to go?”
A mixed beverage licensee may have a price for “to go” cocktails that is different than the regular menu price during this temporary privilege if the discount is not below cost and there is no advertising that entices illegal actions like intoxication or underage consumption. All other advertising regulations apply. The “to go” cocktail price would have to be always the same, or the discounted price would have to end at 9 p.m.

Can I sell a pitcher of margaritas if it contains a maximum of four drinks?
No. For each meal ordered, the restaurant may sell two cocktails in individual 16-ounce containers. A maximum of four 16-ounce cocktails may be purchased assuming two meals were ordered. Sales of “to go” pitchers (no matter what the size) are not permitted.

What is meant by “maximum combined volume not to exceed 16 ounces” in your guidance document?
All contents of the cocktail or mixed drink must be 16 ounces or less. This includes ice, but there is no requirement for a cocktail or drink to be served with ice. The customer could add ice after delivery.

Can a customer bring to the restaurant their own container such as a mini growler or water bottle that has a screw top and no sip top?
No, all cocktails and mixed drinks must be served in a container provided by the licensee.

I only have to go cup lids with holes. Can I use them?
If a container has a lid with a straw hole or sipping hole, the lid may be used if all hole(s) are completely covered and rendered inoperable. A licensee may place a sticker or tape over the holes making it a solid lid. A lid that is difficult to secure may also be secured with tape. A second option would be to wrap the entire lid and cup in a plastic wrap that creates a solid top and secure lid.

What age is required for the delivery driver of mixed drinks or cocktails?
The delivery driver must be at least 21 years old.

Can a restaurant sell a sealed, ready-to-drink canned cocktail that does not qualify as a low alcohol beverage cooler (meaning, a drink containing spirits between .5% and 7.5% alcohol by volume)?
No. Restaurants cannot sell mixed beverages to go, for carry out or delivery in their original container.

Can a restaurant sell 50ml bottles (minis) of spirits to go, for carry out or delivery?
No.

Can we sell a shot of just spirits or a pour of just spirits on the rocks?
No. All cocktails or mixed beverages must contain one mixer and must be served with the ingredients (spirits and mixer) combined.

Can I break up takeout and delivery orders into separate orders to increase the amount of cocktails or mixed drinks that can be sold to individuals?
No. The maximum four cocktails for restaurants and two mixed drinks for distilleries per order applies to per vehicle pick-up and/or per delivery address.

ABC Consulting was created in 2009 after Crystal Stump’s retirement from the VA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division. Since then, her brainchild, ABC Consulting, has grown into a successful team of former VA ABC Special Agents, working for alcohol licensees across Virginia and other states. There is also former Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade (known as TTB) agents and inspectors and the team – they all work alongside you and your business for seamless licensing, compliance and training. Follow our YouTube channel for solid education in all things pertaining to alcohol compliance, so please subscribe. If you find our videos informative, please like each one – this will help other people browsing YouTube see it. Our channel is for anyone unsure of how to navigate the regulations or for anyone who isn’t sure what is required. In fact, that is why ABC Consulting was created: Crystal Stump and her team are so familiar with alcohol regulation that they can provide you with help and information. Today, our YouTube channel serves that same purpose – to educate current and future VA ABC alcohol licensees. If you need an ABC license (or if you want to keep your ABC license), SUBSCRIBE to the channel. Don’t forget to hit the bell notification, so you stay caught up with weekly videos.

*Disclaimer: This article and its contents represent the opinions of the author only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. ABC Consulting is a private consulting firm, in way do we represent the VA ABC Authority. You should not act upon any such information without seeking qualified professional advice based upon your situation.

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