A bill signed into law allowing patrons of Oklahoma restaurants and bars to take cocktails to go seems to be having little effect, if any, in Edmond.
Early last May, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the Oklahoma Cocktails to Go Act of 2021, allowing businesses with mixed beverage or catering licenses to sell cocktails, mixed drinks, or single-serve wine in sealed containers for off-premise consumption.
The law, however, gives no new abilities to businesses holding licenses to manufacture alcoholic liquors or beverages. Further, it prohibits the delivery of cocktails, mixed drinks, or single-serve wine by third parties, requires the drink deliveries to be to and by persons 21 years of age or older, and it has to be transported in the vehicle’s trunk.
Faye Kleist, manager of restaurant and bar The Mule in Edmond, said after the coronavirus pandemic and resultant reduced business, the convenience provided by the law brings potential for new business.
“I think there are a lot of people out there that are not comfortable going out but would still like to have that experience [of drinking a cocktail],” Kleist said.
So far, as the law requires these drinks to be packaged in sealed containers, The Mule has only been selling canned or bottled beer “to-go.” It is this point of “tamper-evident and sealed” packaging that appears to be proving difficult for area bars and restaurants.
“If you are buying a cocktail, you are expecting some level of presentation,” said Operations Partner Brad Mullenix with Community Through Beer Group which owns and operates The Patriarch Craft Beer House & Lawn and 1884 at the Railyard Cocktail Bar—both in Edmond. “A plastic cup and a plastic lid is not a presentation,” Mullenix continued.
He said even if an establishment could prepare a cocktail in compliance with the law, he is finding there is little demand for to-go cocktails.
“No one comes in for (just the cocktail). They come in for the atmosphere,” Mullenix said, adding that if people want to enjoy a cocktail at home, most find out how to get one by going online. Otherwise, they go out to have a drink while experiencing a nice atmosphere.
He used 1884 as an example. Early on during the pandemic, 1884 offered to-go charcuterie and wine pairings as something to help patrons experience something different and nice. The wine, though, was in its original packaging, he shared.
Mullenix said while he recognizes the good behind the new law, in practice, it was not very practical. “They were trying to do things to make [to-go cocktails] legal and help us. I see the heart behind it, but it really didn’t help.”
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About Thomas Berger
Thomas Berger is the owner of Ciskus Creative, an Edmond-based creative agency focused on creating marketing content for small and medium-sized businesses.
Prior to starting his own company, he worked as the communications/marketing specialist for an Oklahoma City-based office technology company. Former to coming to the Oklahoma City area, he had worked as a career journalist for more than a decade — initially reporting for several newspapers in western North Carolina and northeastern Oklahoma and later as a multimedia journalist for KJRH Channel 2 in Tulsa.
Thomas has lived in Edmond with his wife Alison since 2013. He has a passion for traveling, photography, learning languages, landscaping and coffee roasting. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Western Carolina University.