‘A win-win’: Local bars, restaurants prepare to sell to-go cocktails ahead of New Year’s Eve

RALEIGH, N.C. — While COVID-19 restrictions will prevent people from packing restaurants and bars at midnight on New Year’s Eve, customers can still ring in the new year with a drink from their favorite bar.

Thanks to an executive order from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, restaurants and bars can sell mixed drinks for takeout and delivery. Cooper’s order authorizes the North Carolina ABC Commission to “permit the delivery or carry-out of mixed beverages as an alternative to on-site consumption.”

For many businesses selling alcohol, New Year’s Eve planning began well before Thursday.

“Today we’ve already got some people who pre-ordered and said that they’re going to go down and pick them up,” said Sean Potter, one of the owners of The Goodyear House in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood.

Potter’s bartenders must operate with a permit from the state ABC commission. The permit allows one sealed drink to go per person over the age of 21. Even with those limitations, Potter says they’ll do everything they can to make a bad year a little better.

“Anything helps. If we can get that extra $8 to $12 cocktail out the door before you leave at the end of the night, that all adds up and those little pieces help for sure,” Potter said.


Bars and restaurants can get creative with how they package their cocktails, but all to-go drinks need a label with their ingredients listed. The label also needs to indicate that the drink cannot be bought by or given to anyone under the age of 21.

The order lasts until Jan. 31, 2021.

“People kind of still stay home and be responsible with it, yeah, I think it’s a win win,” said Sam Carson, a Charlotte resident.

“I am a little in shock, still,” said Amanda Britton of VANA in South End. “Definitely unexpected on a Monday in the middle of the day to hear this kind of news.”

“This order will help people avoid settings that can contribute to increased viral spread while giving restaurants and bars a financial boost that they need right now,” said Cooper. “With cases and hospitalizations high around the country, let’s all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 while supporting local, small businesses safely.”

Under the new order, establishments holding certain permits from the ABC Commission, including restaurants, hotels, private clubs, private bars, and some distilleries, are allowed to sell mixed beverages to-go or for delivery.

“These businesses, delivery service providers that contract with these businesses, and purchasers of mixed beverages to-go must follow the restrictions in the order and any additional restrictions and guidance established by the ABC Commission,” according to a news release.


“To know there is another avenue for us to make a little bit more profit and also be able to do our cocktails as we fully envision them versus a kit, in which people can make them at home,” Britton said.

Stefan Huebner of Dot Dot Dot was surprised when he heard the news.

“I was actually blindsided by it,” Huebner said. “I thought there was no way they were going to pass this law.”

He said he hopes it isn’t a warning sign.

“I am hoping that this isn’t them throwing us a bone before they shut us down,” Huebner said.

While restrictions in the future are uncertain, Dot Dot Dot is going to roll with the punches.

“I’ll take what we can get from it for now,” Huebner said. “It will hopefully raise a couple bucks a week and hopefully get us through a shutdown, if we get shut down again.”

The modified stay-at-home order remains in effect and the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption must still cease by 9 p.m.