Can NYC restaurants still deliver wine, booze and cocktails?

Jaime E. Love

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Those craft cocktails over hand-chipped ice at The Coupe might best be enjoyed within the small Stapleton speakeasy. But they also can be packed up to go, along with the restaurant’s hot sandwiches and gourmet snacking platters as New York City liquor laws still allow off-premise consumption.

The COVID-19 privilege offered to licensees by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) continues until November 3, a date that can be extended. It allows wine, beer and spirits to be sold for pickup and delivery, so long as food is a part of the order.

VINUM had a successful time of a to-go liquor program in the throes of the pandemic. In the spring, the Stapleton wine bar and restaurant sold its Manhattans, Negronis and Old Fashions in sealed glass containers. It also featured wine tastings via Zoom with pre-poured wines presented as flights paired with meal courses.

The change in the liquor law happened on March 16, the start of the pandemic quarantine period, when licensed on-premises establishments were banned from selling booze in New York State. The governor’s mandate permitted manufacturing to continue.

VINUM in Stapleton came up with a novel idea to sell cocktails in the pandemic, sealing them in glass jars for pickup and delivery with food. (Courtesy of Massimo Felici)Massimo Felici

Restaurants, bars, catering halls and clubs could sell drinks for on-premise consumption at Phase 2 which started in some regions on Thursday, June 4.


Guidelines from the SLA underscore that sealed drinks and food must be sold in tandem. A copy of the establishment’s permit must be present in the shipping vehicle.

Breaches in the governor’s mandate can mean stiff fines — for a retailer the maximum is $10,000 and a manufacturer the maximum of $100,000 — and/or suspension, cancellation, or revocation of a license.

The SLA accepts questions at [email protected] and has shown a proactive, transparent approach on the to-go privilege with business owners. Concerns are answered in a Q&A format on the Authority’s website. For instance, one licensee asked if a renewal would be needed in the case of an expired permit. The SLA responded that the application should be filed but payment would not be needed to renew at that time.

In another instance, an entrepreneur asked, “I have a truck with a tap system allowing me to drive through neighborhoods where I can fill pints, growlers, etc, is this now allowed?” There was a “no” to that query. The SLA said, “Any product that is transported in a delivery vehicle for retail purposes should already have been purchased by the consumer and be out for delivery. Otherwise, the vehicle is operating as an unlawful mobile bar.”

Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].

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