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Takeout cocktails could be legalized in Oklahoma during COVID-19 pandemic

Oklahoma lawmakers are pushing to allow for to-go cocktails as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Oklahoma lawmakers are pushing to allow for to-go cocktails as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, state lawmakers are looking at easing Oklahoma liquor laws to allow some restaurants and caterers to sell takeout cocktails and mixed drinks.

An Oklahoma House panel on Thursday unanimously passed legislation that would allow businesses with mixed-beverage licenses to offer some alcoholic beverages as takeout items during the pandemic.

"This is to help restaurants because they've been hurt by the pandemic, and this allows them to regain a revenue stream," said Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, who is carrying House Bill 2122 from the Oklahoma Restaurant Association.

HB 2122, which would create the "Oklahoma Cocktails To Go Act of 2021," easily cleared the House Alcohol, Tobacco and Controlled Substances Committee.

To-go drinks would have to be placed in sealed containers that detail the ingredients used, and could only be delivered to Oklahomans age 21 or older. The employee delivering the drink also must be of the legal drinking age.

If the employee cannot verify a purchaser's age, then they must cancel the sale of any alcoholic beverage.

Alcoholic beverages, which could be be included in curbside pickup orders, could not be transported in the passenger area of a vehicle.

HB 2122 would not allow third-party delivery drivers, like those from Postmates, Grubhub or DoorDash, to deliver alcoholic beverages. However, Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, has introduced legislation to allow third-party delivery drivers who are age 21 or older to deliver alcoholic beverages.

HB 2122 would only be in effect so long as a state of emergency is in effect in Oklahoma. Gov. Kevin Stitt has repeatedly extended his 30-day state of emergency in Oklahoma due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At most, the act will be in effect for one year after it becomes law.

However, McEntire said the Oklahoma Legislature could consider making the law permanent at a later point.

"Maybe after the pandemic's over, this will be a mainstay," he said.

The bill that now heads to a full House vote includes an emergency clause, which means the legislation could take effect immediately upon the governor's signature.

In the spring, state lawmakers made permanent rules that allowed some businesses to offer curbside sales and home deliveries of sealed alcoholic beverages. Mixed drinks were not included in the changes implemented as a result of the pandemic.

Carmen Forman

Carmen Forman covers the state Capitol and governor's office for The Oklahoman. A Norman native and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, she previously covered state politics in Virginia and Arizona before returning to Oklahoma. Read more ›