In many states, consumer access to spirits ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails is severely restricted by outdated laws that prohibit the sale of these products at grocery and convenience stores. Modernizing alcohol laws will boost small businesses, raise state tax revenue and support consumer choice.
Only 11 states currently allow distillers to ship their products directly to consumers. Direct-to-consumer shipping has, will and should continue to serve as an additional market access channel to the traditional three-tier system of alcohol beverage distribution.
During COVID-19, more than 35 states began allowing restaurants and/or bars to sell cocktails to-go as an economic relief measure for struggling businesses. Since then, 18 states and the District of Columbia passed legislation to make cocktails to-go permanent, and 14 other states passed legislation to allow cocktails to-go on a temporary basis.
Seven states still prohibit the retail sale of distilled spirits bottles on Sundays. Removing the ban on seven-day sales will promote a free market, increases consumer convenience, and allow local businesses to make their own decisions about when to open or close their stores.
The current taxation scheme in almost every state includes a federal excise tax, a state excise tax and significant state and local licensing fees imposed on retailers (bars, restaurants and liquor stores).These discriminatory tax rates put spirits at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis beer and wine. In the end, this hurts spirits consumers.
Forty-eight states allow some form of distilled spirits tastings, 42 allow tastings in bars and restaurants, and 45 states allow tastings in retail stores that sell spirits for off-premise consumption. Also, 39 states allow consumer spirits tastings at both on- and off-premise establishments.