Peter Segall | Juneau Empire
                                A sign on the door at Amalga Distillery in downtown Juneau showing items available for carry-out on Monday.

Peter Segall | Juneau Empire A sign on the door at Amalga Distillery in downtown Juneau showing items available for carry-out on Monday.

Bars and restaurants could serve to-go beer and wine, but will it make a financial difference?

New rule would only apply to already sealed beer and wine

In an effort to provide aid to struggling businesses, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approved measures during the COVID-19 pandemic that would allow bars and restaurants to sell sealed drinks to go.

At an April 1 meeting, the board voted unanimously to allow bars and licensed restaurants to sell factory-sealed drinks for to-go orders. Restaurants with liquor licenses would be able to sell alcohol, with or without food, under the new measure.

The board has sent the measures to Gov. Mike Dunleavy for approval. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Breweries and distilleries have already been able to sell their sealed products. The new guidelines would have little impact on manufacturing business, said Brandon Howard, co-owner of Amalga Gin Distillery.

“We’ve always been able to do to-go,” Howard said, adding the only thing the new measures would change for the distillery is the provision which allows for curbside pick-up.

The new rules would allow restaurants sitting on a stock of alcohol to off-load their inventories, which they’re currently not allowed to do.

Bars would similarly be able to sell some of their stock but would not be able to sell any remaining beer in kegs or already opened bottles of wine. The measure doesn’t allow for the sale of liquor.

Risk Kasnick, owner of the Island Pub in Douglas, said the measure might help some, but it wasn’t yet clear how large of an impact it would have on business.

“We’ve had customers ask for that. It’s something we’d certainly offer,” Kasnick said.

Jared Curé, owner of the Narrows Bar and Viking Lounge in downtown Juneau, said he would like to see Alaska’s Alcohol Control Board follow the lead of other states and allow for delivery of cocktails or cocktail kits.

“Why would a consumer come to me for a six-pack of beer?” Curé asked, saying his bar was located right next to a liquor store.

Several states, including California, New York and Texas have already relaxed liquor laws to allow for certain drinks to be delivered in an effort to help keep businesses operating during the pandemic.

For him, Curé said, the problem was still “not being able to serve the product that we do best.”

Curé said he would like the state to allow the delivery of cocktails or cocktail kits — combinations of ingredients so people can try to make a bar’s special drinks at home. He called the measures passed Wednesday “too little, too late.”

“It’s not about making money, it’s about trying to keep some people employed,” Curé said. “We’re all losing money.”

Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

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