City eateries attempt to master permanent booze-to-go offerings

“We had to R&D the recipe,” Lipp said, referring to research and development. Freezing the margaritas meant they would need different amounts of alcohol, sugar and other flavors.

Lipp had to develop packaging that would prevent leakage, settling on juice pouches with wide straws. Eateries were previously allowed to sell whole bottles of wine and spirits, but the 2022 rule prohibits that, leaving bottles the province of liquor stores. As a result, restaurants have to make sure they can appropriately seal a Negroni or glass of wine so it survives delivery.

Lipp’s ultimate goal was to deliver a frosty product that would cool drinkers on hot summer days–“a frozen slushy experience,” he said. So far, orders are brisk. Tortazo also sells beer, spiked seltzers and wine in cans. According to the State Liquor Authority, all to-go drinks have to be sold with food. That means small food orders bolster sales.

A slow start 

But not everyone has jumped back on the bandwagon. Some bars were kept busy by returning crowds, while other fine-dining spots have ceased food delivery altogether. 

Local DoorDash and Grubhub searches for alcohol that could be delivered to the Crain’s office at 685 Third Ave. around happy hour on Wednesday yielded mostly convenience stores and delis. There were just 11 restaurant results, including beer at Dhaba Indian Cuisine and high-end cocktails to go from Mark’s off Madison. Similarly, booze offerings appeared slim in residential areas. Of the 122 Grubhub vendors offering alcohol to an address on North Seventg Street in central Williamsburg, for example, the vast majority were liquor and convenience stores, not restaurants.

That may be evidence of a slow start, not disinterest, Rigie said.

“There was an era when you had drinks-to-go and then it abruptly ended,” he said. “It takes some time to get it reimplemented.”

Delivery and takeout sales sustained the Harlem cocktail bar 67 Orange Street when dining rooms were closed, said owner Karl Franz Williams, who hoped for a permanent increase in sales from the program’s continuation, especially during slow months.

But because of some unrelated management changes at the company, he has not been able to give the new rendition of drinks-to-go his attention yet.

“I would probably have a more interesting answer for you in a few months,” he said.

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