Omaha bars, restaurants celebrate permanent alcohol takeout

To-go cocktails was passed into law in Nebraska
To-go cocktails was passed into law in Nebraska
Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 6:19 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - You can bring happy hour to your home or your couch now, thanks to a bill signed into law by Gov. Pete Ricketts on Wednesday.

Alcoholic drinks to-go began in Nebraska at the start of the pandemic, after the governor signed an executive order to allow bars and restaurants to offer the service as other COVID restrictions were slowing down and impacting businesses.

Due to its popularity and success, the Nebraska legislature and Nebraska Restaurant Association pushed for its permanence.

“I’m glad it’s sticking around, because it just gives us that other aspect of the business that we can promote and another revenue stream,” says Bill Baburek, owner of Crescent Moon on 36th and Farnam streets.

Baburek says the take-out option still helps his restaurant, but he felt the biggest impact of it during the first few months of the pandemic, when they were only offering take-out.

Now, the option for to-go cocktails is on their website, and he says they permanently have cocktails on tap since they’ve become so popular, and to make the process easier for his bartenders.

“I’d say about 25 to 30% of the orders we receive, the person is also ordering a cocktail or two,” he says.

The story is the same for Omaha’s Brickway Brewing and Distillery.

“Cocktails to-go helped us tremendously,” says president and master brewer Zac Triemert.

“That ability to sell them something to go helped tremendously, it helped keep my staff hired, it helped be able to pay rent. So without that, I think it would’ve been a much much harder year,” he says.

The new law signed by Governor Ricketts also allows for Nebraska craft distillers — like Brickway — to produce more liquor yearly. Previously, there was a 10,000-gallon cap on production, whereas now it sits at 100,000. The law also decreases the tax on canned cocktails.

All of this helping businesses continue to grow after a tough year.

“Legitimately, Nebraska distilleries can now afford to produce a canned cocktail, get it to the market, make it affordable for the consumer and so we now have plans to come out with three different canned cocktails in July of this year.”

The new law took effect immediately.

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