Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez is joining a measure from Republican Rep. Toby Overdorf that would allow restaurants to sell mixed drinks and frozen cocktails for takeout.
Overdorf filed his bill in the House late last month. On Monday, Rodriguez introduced a companion measure on the Senate side (SB 1106) as legislators look to change up state law in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) issued a temporary rule allowing mixed drinks to-go during the outbreak. But that change is temporary and would expire once the state’s emergency declaration ends. Prior to the pandemic, state law prevented establishments with an alcohol license from selling mixed drinks to-go. That’s in part due to fear customers might abuse the practice by drinking in public or during the drive home.
The legislation from Rodriguez and Overdorf would require frozen and mixed drinks in to-go orders to be sealed. Local regulations regarding drinking in public and open containers would still apply wherever they are in effect.
The new measures define a frozen drink as “an iced, flavored alcoholic beverage made with a blender or dispensed from a frozen drink machine.” Mixed drinks are beverages “made with one or more types of liquor combined with one or more other ingredients, which is usually shaken or stirred.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis supported the DBPR’s temporary adjustment to the practice, and has backed a permanent change via legislation in this upcoming Session.
Republicans have largely pushed the effort as a was to provide economic relief to a food industry still rebounding from the pandemic. State and local regulations have restricted in-person dining at times, but many Floridians will likely remain wary of dining inside for some time due to the virus’ threat, even without those restrictions.
Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley is also sponsoring legislation to offer mixed drinks for delivery, as long as those drinks are part of a food order. Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Josie Tomkow have backed similar bills.