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
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.”