RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Several new laws are slated to go into effect Friday, July 1 for Virginians, though, surely the one most anticipated by the commonwealth’s restaurant scene is the extension on cocktails to-go.

Virginians will be allowed to buy cocktails to-go and have alcoholic drinks delivered to them until 2024 after the General Assembly passed a bill that one lawmaker called a “lifeline” to small businesses.

The bill creates a third-party license, which will allow the holder to deliver alcoholic beverages to customers. The drinks must be bought from businesses with Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) licenses.

In plain, customers will be able to continue buying their beloved cocktails to-go, from their favorite restaurants for two more years.

Former Gov. Ralph Northam granted restaurants the authority to sell cocktails to-go during the pandemic after business owners expressed concerns over revenue loss.

But are cocktails to-go actually as popular as legislators say? One Richmond restaurant owner says otherwise.

“We haven’t seen much of a demand for them at all, just an occasional request here and there, said Jake Crocker, the owner of well-known Fan District restaurant, Lady N’awlins Cajun Café.

Lady N’awlins Cajun Café (Photo Courtesy of Jake Crocker)

Crocker said the offering of beverages to go hasn’t had much of a factor on the restaurant’s bottom line, and the demand isn’t much different now than during the height of the pandemic.

“It’s about the same, there was never that much interest. People seemed to be excited about the idea of it but very few took advantage,” Crocker said.

Popularity aside, cocktails to-go and alcoholic drink delivery will have the ability to be legally offered for the next two years, starting July 1, with a few requirements.

Requirements for alcoholic beverages if not sold in the manufacturer’s original sealed container:

  •  Be enclosed in a container that has no straw holes or other openings and is sealed in a manner that allows a person to readily discern whether the container has been opened or tampered with
  • Display the name of the licensee from which the alcoholic beverages were purchased
  • Be clearly marked with the phrase “contains alcoholic beverages”
  • Have a maximum volume of 16 ounces per beverage for certain beverages
  • Be stored in the trunk of the vehicle, in an area that is rear of the driver’s seat, in a locked container or compartment, or, in the case of delivery by bicycle, in a compartment behind the bicyclist during delivery

The bill also established fines for those who violate the third-party delivery license requirement. Those in violation will be fined $2,500 for the first infraction and $5,000 thereafter.

For a list of additional new laws taking effect Friday, click here.