North Carolina Permanently Legalizes Cocktails To-Go


July 9, 2024

Distilled Spirits Council logo square - DISCUS cocktails to-go

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper yesterday signed SB 527 into law, lowering the tax rate for spirits ready-to-drink cocktails (RTDs), allowing cocktails to-go and delivery of mixed beverages, and permitting alcohol sales on some holidays.

North Carolina is the 29th state to permanently allow cocktails to-go.

“The signing of SB 527 is a win for North Carolina’s spirits consumers,” Andy Deloney, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States senior vice president and head of state public policy, said. “With Governor Cooper’s signature, North Carolinians will be able to take a delicious cocktail to-go from their favorite restaurant and pick up a special spirits bottle even on some big holidays.

“Additionally, restaurants will see lower taxes on highly popular ready-to-drink cocktails. We are grateful to see both the legislature and the governor support these market modernizations. Cheers to increased convenience and consumer choice in North Carolina.”

Read more: North Carolina, Pennsylvania Pass RTDs-Friendly Bills

Despite many spirits RTDs having the same or lower alcohol-by-volume (ABV) than their beer- and wine-based counterparts, they are currently taxed at a much higher rate. SB 527 defines a “pre-mixed cocktail” and sets a maximum ABV of 13%. It exempts these low-ABV products from the state’s mixed beverage tax of $20 per four liters that is paid by the on-premise “mixed beverage permit” holders.

Read more: Southern Distilling Leads the Way in North Carolina

SB 527 authorizes cocktails to-go and delivery by mixed beverage permittees or delivery service permittees. Cocktails to-go orders must be made with a food purchase and placed in tamper-evident containers. Current law did not authorize cocktails to-go as a previous, temporary cocktails to-go measure sunset in June 2021.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 29 states, including North Carolina, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to permanently allow cocktails to-go.

SB 527 also authorizes local ABC stores to sell on New Year’s Day, July 4 and Labor Day.

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