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Mixed Drinks To Go Are Back In Baltimore County

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To-go cocktails are legal again n Baltimore County.

They were allowed statewide during the COVID-19 state of emergency to help restaurants and bars stay afloat, but that ended July 1.

Now, the state is letting localities try a two-year pilot that allows another round of mixed drinks to go.

Baltimore County’s liquor board Monday agreed unanimously to bring back to-go mixed drinks immediately.

“In the year-and-a-half we’ve done this, we have not encountered any problems,” said Mike Mohler, the liquor board's chief administrator.

He said he knew of no opposition to bringing back to-go cocktails. In some parts of the country, owners of liquor stores have opposed them because of the competition, but Mohler said that is not the case here.

“Our restaurants and taverns already have the right to sell packaged goods,” Mohler said. “So, it’s not a big change. Our liquor stores, they understand that.”

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said there are lessons to be learned from the pandemic.

“As we continue our recovery, we must do all we can to help our small businesses innovate and diversify their operations,” Olszewski said in a written statement following Monday's vote. “This is another commonsense step to support the continued recovery of this hard-hit industry and we applaud today's decision.”

Frederick and Anne Arundel Counties’ liquor boards approved to-go cocktails early enough so there was no down time after the state of emergency ended.

But “To gos” remain a “no go” in Baltimore City.

Nicholas Blendy, Deputy Executive Secretary for the Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners, said in a statement that the board reviews its regulations every five years, and it is due to do that later this year.

“The board thought it best to consider this question as part of its comprehensive review later this fall,” Blendy wrote.

The state law that enacted the two-year pilot lays out rules establishments must follow to either prepare cocktails for pickup or have them delivered. For instance, the beverage must be bought with food and must be sold before 11 p.m. The container must be sealed or covered, with no holes for straws or sipping.