Cocktails To Go Now Here To Stay

The press of necessity is the mother of invention. That’s as true for our luxuries as it is for our necessities. 

During Prohibition, when a quart of beer or a quart of whisky would both send you to jail, a lot of people switched from beer to hard liquor, and since bootleg hooch was often quite harsh-tasting, the country’s collection of cocktail recipes expanded from half a dozen – many bartenders didn’t know how to mix more than the aptly-named Old Fashioned – to hundreds. After Prohibition was repealed, cocktails remained a part of how Americans consumed their favorite psychoactive substance. 

After the earliest and most stringent days of our current Prohibition – aptly named the lockdown – were over, many businesses tried different ways of reopening partially: takeout food became available from restaurants that had never offered it before. Books were displayed in store windows and delivered by courier. Even strip clubs figured out a workaround. 

Taverns? They came up with “cocktails to go,” and last December, Governor Kate Brown signed a bill temporarily authorizing the sale of cocktails in jars and cocktail kits in order to help bars and restaurants stay open.  

On June 11, Brown signed Senate Bill 317, which made the sale of wine and liquor by the drink in sealed containers for off-premises consumption permanently legal in Oregon. From now on, any business which has a conventional liquor license, which previously had permitted sale only on their premises – outdoor tables counted as being part of the “premises” if they were surrounded by painted lines – will be allowed to sell drinks to-go. 

The bill was popular in the Legislature, passing in the Senate by 26-2, and in the House by 51-7. It’s less popular with alcoholism counselors and with the state’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission.  

The Oregon Health Authority has recently released data showing that, in 2017, there were 1,923 alcohol-related deaths, meaning that alcohol was killing five people each day. This was a third higher than the alcohol-related deaths in 2001.  

Given that Oregon is already experiencing such an increase in deaths from alcohol, Dr. Reginald Richardson, Executive Director of the ADPC, said, “Any policy that increases access [to alcohol] is potentially problematic for a group of people. It worried us that it would be more of the same, in terms of getting people on the pathway to addiction.” 

Our advice on this one? Get your drinks to-go responsibly and don’t drink and drive. 


By John M. Burt