Fishtown iced teas will be available once take-out cocktails are legal
?? Do you like Philly? Sign up for Billy Penn’s free e-newsletter to learn everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.
Update: On May 21, Governor Wolf enacted what is now known as Act 21 of 2020. Find a list of bars in Philly with take out cocktails here.
Take-out cocktails may become temporarily legal in Pennsylvania. As of May 18, the bill to make it happen was on Governor Tom Wolf’s desk. On Tuesday, he indicated that he would sign it… eventually.
For bars and restaurants in Philly, this can’t happen soon enough.
“As soon as it becomes legal, we’ll get it live,” said Michael McCloskey, co-owner of Interstate Drafthouse, which sells what he calls “the most recognizable cocktail in town”: Fishtown Iced Tea.
McCloskey, who said the bar sells about 350 iced teas a week under normal circumstances, hopes to reach around 100 weekly fan orders in quarantine.
The pandemic has created nightmare scenarios for the hospitality industry, with at least 80% of restaurant workers in Pennsylvania unemployed. Many dining establishments rely on alcohol for the majority of their profits, but so far they have only been allowed to offer beer and wine, as in normal times.
Interstate Drafthouse has rehired six employees since it reopened with take out food two weeks ago. They hope to bring more to the payroll soon – a requirement of the tavern’s PPP loan.
“Iced teas are going to help a lot,” McCloskey said. “Everyone keeps asking for them.
Fishtown iced tea orders for pickup will include the iconic Arctic Splash cardboard container, filled with ice and a side-wrapped straw. The alcohol mixture itself will come in a separate pint container, sealed with a lid.
“Sealed” containers are one of the requirements of current legislation, which says it could be as simple as a soda cup lid with the hole taped on.
The bill also limits the size of drinks sold to between 4 oz. and 64 ounces. and limit suppliers to locations with an “R” or “H” liquor license (ie no private clubs). Sales would only be valid during the current “disaster emergency” and subsequent mitigation period, ie the “red” and “yellow” phases of the Wolf reopening plan.
The governor gave no clue as to whether he was considering signing HB 327 – but obviously the effort has a ton of support.
In a state known for its obscure liquor laws, few alcohol laws have evolved as quickly as this one. The Pennsylvania House passed the bill on April 29 with an overwhelming majority of 193 to 9, and the Pennsylvania Senate followed by a unanimous passage exactly two weeks later.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is one of the funders.
“I see no reason why a jug of margaritas or a jug of cosmopolitans wouldn’t help both the bar and restaurant owner and the person receiving the order,” Kenney said Thursday. “Businesses will get more revenue… these people are suffering. “
The city, which faces a half-billion dollar deficit, is also set to see an influx of revenue, thanks to the 10% tax on drinking alcohol that helps fund schools in Philly .
Supply chain disruptions meant returning Fishtown iced teas to the menu was no easy task.
Arctic Splash, the key ingredient, was temporarily un-orderable because Dean Foods subsidiary Lehigh Valley Dairy which produces the iced tea flavored drink, had pivoted to focus solely on milk production, McCloskey said. It resumes shipping today after a hiatus of several months, and Interstate Draft House receives one of the first shipments.
“We have included some for [Anne’s Place] grocery store across the street, ”added McCloskey. “She couldn’t get it.”
Visit this link for a list of all the bars and restaurants in Philadelphia offering drinks to go.