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Assembly advances bill allowing to-go cocktails at bars without food order

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SACRAMENTO -- California residents may soon be able to order takeaway cocktails with fewer restrictions, after a state Assembly committee approved the legislation Wednesday.

The bill would eliminate a requirement for customers to order a bona fide meal with their drink purchases -- meaning bars that don't serve food could sell alcohol to go.

The bill also allows alcoholic beverage delivery, including on third-party delivery apps, for both restaurants and bars.

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A bartender pours a cocktail for fully vaccinated customers at the bar inside Risky Business, a private members-only club, that was once The Other Door but closed during the Covid-19 pandemic in the North Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California on May 21, 2021.  PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, follows a previous temporary relief measure for struggling food and beverage services during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a news release, Dodd said it was approved by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee with overwhelming support.

Matt Sutton, senior vice president of government affairs and public policy for the California Restaurant Association, said the bill comes at a critical time for small businesses still recovering from the COVID-19 closures.

"Reinstating the ability for neighborhood restaurants to use more channels to serve their guests offsite, as SB 846 does, meets changed consumer expectations while adding public safety protections. A time-tested, carefully crafted policy that is a true win-win," Sutton said in a statement. 

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