The Dallas Morning News

D-FW lawmakers’ bills would allow Sunday liquor sales

Industry reaction is mixed to legislatio­n focused on ready-to-drink cocktails

- By SARAH BAHARI Staff Writer Twitter: @sarahbfw

A couple of Texas Republican lawmakers want to end the state’s ban on Sunday liquor sales.

State Sen. Kelly Hancock, who represents Fort Worth, has filed a bill to allow grocery and convenienc­e stores to sell ready-to-drink cocktails seven days a week. Rep. Justin Holland of Rockwall filed a similar bill in the Texas House last month.

Under current Texas law, ready-todrink cocktails made with vodka, tequila or other spirits are sold in liquor stores, which can’t be open on Sundays. Grocery and convenienc­e stores are permitted to sell beer and wine on Sundays.

But Hancock said he wants to continue to keep “free market principles at the core of Texas’ economic success.”

“As industries innovate and new products become staples in the marketplac­e, it only makes sense for us to take a look at ways government can reduce regulatory red tape,” Hancock said in a statement from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Hancock did not respond to a request for comment or say whether he would support allowing liquor stores to open on Sundays.

Wholesale Beer Distributo­rs of Texas, a trade associatio­n that opposes the bills, said the bills would allow teens as young as 16 to sell hard liquor. Currently, the minimum age to sell liquor is 21.

“There is no great consumer demand to make this drastic change to Texas liquor law,” the trade associatio­n’s president, Tom Spilman, said in an email.

The bills come two years after Texas moved to considerab­ly loosen restrictio­ns on alcohol sales. State leaders changed the law to allow restaurant­s to sell to-go drinks and permit beer and wine sales on Sunday mornings. Before that, sales were prohibited before noon.

Texas has restricted liquor sales on Sundays since 1935, when the Texas Liquor Control Act was passed in response to the repeal of Prohibitio­n. Bills to allow liquor stores to open on Sundays failed in the past.

But the rise in ready-to-drink cocktails might help soften the ban. Drinks like canned Ranch Water from Dallasbase­d Ranch2o and whiskey-based cocktails from Fort Worth’s TX Whiskey distillery have helped drive the surge.

Premixed cocktails generated $1.6 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2021, up more than 40% from the previous year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, a trade associatio­n representi­ng producers and marketers. By 2025, canned cocktails are predicted to account for 8% of all alcohol sales, doubling the share since 2020, according to Internatio­nal Wines and Spirits Record, which analyzes alcohol sales.

“States all across the U.S. are taking a look at beverage laws to ensure consumers of these products are being treated fairly, and Texas consumers should not get left behind,” Chris Swonger, president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council, said in a statement. “Legislativ­e leaders in Texas should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplac­e.”

 ?? Smith Collection/gado ?? Two bills in the Texas Legislatur­e would allow grocery and convenienc­e stores to sell premixed cocktails containing liquor seven days a week.
Smith Collection/gado Two bills in the Texas Legislatur­e would allow grocery and convenienc­e stores to sell premixed cocktails containing liquor seven days a week.

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