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Cocktails to-go are legal in Iowa, as long as they follow these rules

A to-go box holds the ingredients for a Grandad's Old Fashioned cocktail March 20 at Rodina in Cedar Rapids. (Andy Abeyt
A to-go box holds the ingredients for a Grandad’s Old Fashioned cocktail March 20 at Rodina in Cedar Rapids. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Officials with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division announced Thursday that administrative rules to address the filling, sealing and sale of mixed drinks or cocktails to-go have been filed and are now effective.

On June 29, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law House File 2540, which legalized the sale of mixed drinks or cocktails to-go by certain liquor license holders.

The legislation also authorized state regulators to adopt emergency administrative rules to implement the provisions of law related to mixed drinks or cocktails sold to-go. The rules prohibit the sale of mixed drinks or cocktails to-go in paper or Styrofoam cups, or plastic cups that are intended for one-time use. Lids with straw holes or sipping holes are also prohibited.

Containers of mixed drinks or cocktails to-go also must bear a seal that makes it apparent when that seal has been tampered with. The types of sealing methods allowed under the rules are heat shrink wrap bands around the cap or lid, twist-top caps that break apart when the container is opened, or vacuum or heat-sealed pouches containing the mixed drink or cocktail.

State officials say these container and sealing requirements are necessary to comply with federal open container laws and ensure that Iowa does not lose about $12 million in annual federal funding for bridge and road construction and repair projects. Mixed drinks or cocktails to-go that are in containers and have sealing methods allowed under the rules are not open containers and can be transported in the passenger area of motor vehicles. Customers transporting mixed drinks or cocktails to-go that are not in compliance with the rules in the passenger area of a motor vehicle could face a fine of $200 for an open container violation. Licensees found to be selling mixed drinks or cocktails to-go that are not in compliance with the rules could face a civil penalty, license suspension or license revocation.

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