As New York City’s bars and restaurants struggle in the wake of mandated closures across the five boroughs, they’ve been granted one small measure of relief. Takeout and delivery are still permitted – for the time being, at least – and while those services won’t keep the lights on for long, they’re giving hard-hit businesses a bit of breathing room while they figure out their next steps. An added bonus? They’re now permitted to prepare cocktails to go. 

Woman crossing empty street in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood
In some parts of town, New York's streets are strangely still © Busà Photography/Getty Images

The “new off-premises privileges” come courtesy of the New York State Liquor Authority, the New York Times reported Tuesday, with the caveat that beverages must be sold in a closed or sealed container, and food must be purchased at the same time – but even a bag of chips will do. (Sales also have to meet any relevant open-container ordinances, so there’s no popping the top and drinking on the street allowed, even during a national emergency.) 

“When the change in legislation came in from Governor Cuomo, everyone’s spirits picked up,” Linden Pride, the owner of Dante, 2019’s World’s Best Bar, told Eater New York. “My business is not sustainable on [delivery], but for now we can pay health insurance and look after the core team.”

Courtesy of Dante.jpg
Dante's to-go options include negronis, Garibaldis, and large-format, pre-batched martinis @ Courtesy of Dante

The cocktail bar Mister Paradise has also switched directions, relaunching as a liquor shop serving pre-mixed drinks, full bottles of spirits and mixers, wine, and beer. The newly christened Paradise Wines & Liquor delivers on Fridays only for orders placed by 9:00 p.m. the night before, with a $50 minimum, and each order comes with house-made Chex Mix.

According to the Times, trailblazing speakeasy PDT got in on the action early, debuting its takeaway operation on Monday with crowdpleasers like mezcal mules and old fashioneds, in big batches and small, each served with a side of tater tots.

Hunky Dory's Irish coffee to go, with bag of coffee beans and bottle of Telling whiskey
Hunky Dory's to-go service started on St. Patrick's Day with Irish coffees © Hunky Dory

In Brooklyn, all-day bar and restaurant Hunky Dory started things off with Irish coffees, hot or cold, and quickly followed up with bottled versions of the house cocktails. “Don’t be offended if I make you stand as far away from the bar as possible,” owner Claire Sprouse warned customers on Instagram. 

Starting Friday, Hunky Dory will launch flights – complete with tasting notes – in tiny to-go bottles, as a bid to introduce the booze-curious to to new brands. “The bar is not always a great setting for that, because people don’t necessarily come here for an education,” Sprouse says. “It’s nice to finally get to exercise all my dorky knowledge.”

New York City’s Times Square, crowded in the early evening with pedestrians and traffic.
Tourist attractions like Times Square are receiving markedly fewer visitors these days © Ingus Kruklitis/Shutterstock

Still, most industry professionals recognize that delivery isn’t a sustainable, long-term solution. Sam Ross, co-owner of the Lower East Side’s Attaboy, told the Times, “The impression we all get is this is just a Band-Aid on the wound right now.” Nicholas Ruiz, general manager at Manhattan’s Patent Pending, told Eater New York that his Flatiron speakeasy “could survive a month and a half on delivery,” while Pride noted that it would take Dante “a year or more to recuperate the losses from this.” 

Earlier this week, Eater’s Hillary Dixler Canavan advocated for a government bailout for the restaurant industry, describing the narrow margins owners and workers alike have to straddle to survive. “Restaurants are an invaluable part of the social fabric of our towns and cities,” she writes. “It’s unthinkable that they will not be there to meet us when we come out of this.”

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