It’s last call for cocktails-to-go.
As of July 1, bars and restaurants in Baltimore will no longer be permitted to sell cocktails for carryout and delivery in sealed containers, according to an announcement from the city’s liquor board.
“The special privilege Governor Hogan allowed for sale of “to go” cocktails for carryout or delivery…ends on June 30, 2021,” the agency posted on its website. “Licensees who provide mixed drinks for carryout or delivery on or after July 1, 2021 will be in violation” of liquor board rules.
The board temporarily changed its rules to permit the sale of cocktails-to-go in response to the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Its action was intended to help establishments stay in business even though they weren’t allowed to provide indoor service because of public health regulations designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The change in rules is tied to the decision by Hogan to lift Maryland’s State of Emergency declaration, effective July 1. Lifting restrictions is a key part of the state’s effort to reopen the economy now that vaccinations are up and the number of COVID cases has been dropping.
Some city residents say they won’t miss cocktails to go. They say they believe the practice of selling mixed drinks for carryout contributed to a crime spike in areas such as Fells Point because purchasers could easily unseal the containers and drink the cocktails right outside the establishment that sold them, or share them with underaged drinkers.
“When bars in Fells Point started complaining about crime I said that a lot of the problem was a result of the carry-out liquor law,” West Baltimore resident and political strategist Tia Hopkins, Mid-Atlantic Region Director for Young Democrats of America and Public Safety Co-chair of Baltimore’s LGBTQ Commission, wrote on Facebook.
“I was in the square the night that 3 people got shot. People had carry-out alcohol EVERYWHERE. It was literally their customers that they served who were out there acting a fool…Perhaps now things will be safer.”
Others say it was pleasant to be able to walk in public with a drink in hand, the way people can on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. “When they started the carry-out liquor thing and had the streets closed off, that was really nice,” said a fan of the soon-to-expire policy. “It’s unfortunate that we’re losing that privilege.”