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To-go cocktails 'a lifeboat' for small businesses in Maine

In April, Gov. Mills signed an executive order to allow to-go cocktails with takeout orders from restaurants. Now, lawmakers want to extend that to 2022.

MAINE, USA — When local lawmakers get back to work in Augusta, they will vote on a bill to continue to allow restaurants to sell to-go cocktails.

Like many restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, "take out has gone through the roof," Colin Rankin said. Rankin is the general manager at El Rayo in Scarborough.

In April, Governor Janet Mills signed an executive order that allows restaurants to sell beer, wine, and cocktails to anyone who is of age and also ordering food.

RELATED: Gov. Mills approves bar, restaurants to sell 'cocktails to go'

For many small businesses, this has been very helpful.

"When it first started it was a welcomed lift in sales," Ryan Carey, owner of Noble Barbecue in Portland, said.

He said the to-go cocktails have contributed to about 20% of his restaurant's revenue.

"Which at this time any percentage of the bottom line is appreciated," Carey added.

Rankin said being able to sell his restaurant's signature margaritas has allowed him to stay in business.

"It's been kind of a lifeboat," he said.

Now, state lawmakers are waiting to vote on a bipartisan bill that would allow to-go cocktails through April 2022.

RELATED: New bill would allow restaurants and bars to sell alcohol to-go through April 2022

"Unless there's some glaring problems with the to-go cocktails, I'd love to see it continue," Carey said.

Both Carey and Rankin said the cocktails are carefully packaged in order to discourage customers from opening while driving.