Florida lawmaker wants to-go cocktails, beer and wine to still be a thing after COVID-19

DUNEDIN, Fla. — 2020 hasn’t been easy on bars and restaurants.

“It’s the most challenging thing I’ve gone through in my professional career for sure,” said Zach Feinstein, co-owner of The Living Room, The Black Pearl and Sonder Social Club in Dunedin, all of which faced a harsh reality earlier this year when they were forced to shut down because of COVID-19.

“That would never happen! Well it happened,” he said.

Feinstein says they certainly had to reinvent themselves and let’s be honest — cocktails are always best when made by professionals. And, even in a pandemic, Sonder Social Club found a way to keep their signature drinks flowing.

“Why can’t you sell alcohol to-go, you know, it’s just so silly. So for me, it’s just the next step,” said Feinstein.
Selling to-go liquor, wine and beer has been allowed since March, and Florida Senator Jeff Brandes thinks why not keep it that way?

“I think what we’ve seen is a growing trend towards the delivery of products whether it be Uber Eats or GrubHub,” he said. “This would allow you to order a bottle of wine to go along with your steak.”
He believes people are ready for it as long as it’s done responsibly.

“We’re not going to allow a roadie in a red solo cup,” he said. “Look, these are sealed containers and there’s going to be a process through DBBR to seal them.”

Feinstein says it’s been a big revenue booster and says if you want to be the bartender at home they’re coming up with a way to make that happen too.

“We’re gonna be selling cocktail kits so you can bring home a bottle of liquor with the stuff that goes with that or I premixed cocktail all together,” he said.

Feinstein hopes lawmakers will come together on this and see things from the standpoint of business owners.

”I think the choices that are made in Tallahassee and Washington DC in the next year are going to be quintessential for us to recover in the right way,” he said.
Brandes agrees — it’s why he’s filed a bill that he believes will be one of the first to pass this session.

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