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Bending the To-Go Booze Law During Lockdown

It’s still illegal to sell mixed drinks to-go in Illinois, so mixers and brewers are getting creative — and, in the case of one bartender, petitioning the law.

In Half Acre’s Lincoln Square taproom, 2017   Photo: Peter Ranvestel

Chicago restaurants are closed for dine-in business for the foreseeable future, which means many of them have come up with creative ways to get their products to the public. But amidst the meal kits, delivery options, and GoFundMe pages, one important question remains: Where does that leave bars, breweries, and drink programs?

Luckily, some of Chicago’s best bars and restaurants are also coming up with novel ways to get you cocktails, wine, and beer.

A couple of preliminary notes: Many offerings are in flux and changing day-to-day as operators figure out what works and what doesn’t, so don’t be surprised if things change. Also, selling mixed drinks to-go is illegal in Illinois (at least for the moment), and while I doubt there’s much enforcement going on at the moment, some restaurant alcohol options may skirt the rules. Make informed decisions, and go sign this petition from Kumiko’s creative director Julia Momose asking that bars be allowed to sell mixed drinks to-go.

They are slightly hard to find (since they’re being sold through Bub City’s Grubhub page), but you can get bottled cocktails from Three Dots and a Dash delivered to you. On offer are the iconic Three Dots and a Dash, the Jet Pilot, and a few others, and you can also get tiki mugs, Mai Tai mix, rum, homemade syrups, and fresh juices. The prices are great (cocktails are $8), so this is definitely one to check out.

A lot of places are delivering wine and beer, as well as offering them with pickup orders, though it’s a bit of tough sell when they’re offered at full restaurant prices (and Binny’s is still open down the street). But Roots Pizza is making that into a better deal — from 3 to 6 p.m. every day, there’s a virtual happy hour. All wine, beer, and (of course) White Claw is 50 percent off when you order through their site.

If local beer is more your scene, many Chicagoland breweries are offering delivery and pickup as well. Off Color Brewing is offering pickup and delivery of its beers in bottles, cases, and even kegs — just order online first. Begyle Brewing is offering pick-up of cans, bottles, growlers, and merch (which includes Passion House Coffee beans), and you can preorder here. At Half Acre Beer Co., you can order cans of beer in four packs or by the case.

I couldn’t mention great alcohol options without talking about Bodega Biscay, the comprehensive all-in-one delivery service from the team behind mfk and Bar Biscay. Their site includes everything from takeout meals to groceries, and a huge selection of beers, wines, and spirits. They’ve also got Negroni, a Manhattan, and mimosa kits, all at reasonable prices. 

Possibly the most complex cocktail kit I’ve seen so far comes from Acadia, where mixer Michael Simon has put together a really solid offering at a pretty reasonable price. For $70, you can get a Cherry Cola Eagle Rare Old Fashioned kit. What does that mean? You get a bottle of bourbon, sugar infused with sour cherry and kola nuts, housemade aromatic bitters, cherry vinegar, fancy ice cubes, and cherries. They’re also offering a martini kit for $60. Order online.

I wish I could include even more of the great deals out there, since there are literally dozens. Keep your eyes open — and if you have a favorite bar or bartender, search for them on social media, since they may be offering cool stuff that you don’t know about.

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