Home delivery of alcohol in Illinois is here to stay, as the cocktails-to-go law has been extended for five years through August 1, 2028. Illinois restaurants and bars first began selling cocktails to-go in June 2020, three months after Gov. Pritzker used his emergency powers to order all food and drink establishments to close. The mixed drinks to-go policy was necessary to keep struggling businesses afloat, advocates said.
The legislation allows bars and restaurants to provide carry-out, curbside pick-up and delivery of mixed drinks and single servings of wine for off-premises consumption. Prior legislation passed in January 2021 by the General Assembly extended the law until June 1, 2024, and this spring lawmakers extended the law again. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 20 states and the District of Columbia have introduced laws permanently allowing businesses to deliver and sell cocktails to-go. Fourteen other states have passed legislation temporarily allowing the practice, including Illinois.
Illinois Department of Employment Security data shows the state was still missing 38,000 hospitality jobs, which include restaurant and bar workers, in March 2023. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in March 2022 Illinois was missing 77,000 jobs from its restaurants, bars, hotels and other leisure industries since the COVID-19 shutdowns. That Illinois jobs sector has recovered only 72 percent of what it lost in the pandemic, the third-worst recovery percentage in the nation. With the current economic climate and hospitality industry challenges, it’s difficult to imagine this legislation not being extended well into the future, if not made permanent.