Gov. Bill Lee permitted to-go alcohol sales in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants to close dining rooms. The measure allowed restaurants and bars to sell cocktails and other alcoholic drinks through drive-thru, pick-up and takeout.
State lawmakers extended the allowance for two more years in 2021, but the law will end July 1 if not renewed again. About 157 of roughly 3,600 eligible businesses in Tennessee reported to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission that they planned to sell to-go alcohol, according to the commission.
Under state law, to-go alcoholic drinks must be sold with a food purchase. Customers are limited to one 16-ounce serving of alcohol or beer, or one container of wine. The state levies a 15% liquor-by-the-drink tax on beverages with higher alcohol content than beer.
Hospitality groups backed a proposal earlier this year for lawmakers to make to-go alcohol sales permanent but were unsuccessful. Some restaurant and bar owners have reported the allowance provided a needed boost in revenue during the pandemic.
With the expiration looming, Tennesseans have limited time left to enjoy cocktails to-go from their favorite local spots. The reprieve from open container laws allowing for alcoholic beverages to be transported in vehicles will end with the law on July 1.
For questions or more information, contact the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.