Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has provided another opportunity for customers to support their favorite restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing establishments with a mixed beverages license to sell drinks through takeout or delivery.
“Finally,” said Jason Maddens, owner of Ahso Restaurant in Brambleton.
Maddens said he has been sending emails to the governor "to push this along" for the past few weeks, because liquor was the one revenue stream they were not able to tap into, he said.
“We were elated to hear the governor's announcement yesterday. We immediately placed an order with ABC and have updated our menu. We'll be offering five cocktails to start with, including our immensely popular 'Barrel-Aged OG' and 'Orange you a spicy one,' as well as a spicy margarita and a gin drink with thyme,” Maddens said.
Ahso will also be bottling drinks that will be available in four-packs starting this week.
“Our cocktail program is pretty strong, so I'm expecting there will be a big influx of sales,” he said.
Ahso is open for curbside takeout everyday except Wednesday and Thursday. Maddens recommends pre-ordering a meal to ensure availability, because they tend to sell out of popular items such as ramen on Mondays and barbecue on Tuesdays.
Virginia restaurants were previously allowed to sell beer or wine for takeout or deliveries, according to the governor's executive order on March 20.
Kevin Bednarz, owner of Ashburn Pub and Purcellville Pub, said he thinks selling cocktails will help business. Bednarz is looking forward to setting up a tiki bar outside and selling a “drink of the day” while doing a livestream to promote some of the popular beverages on the menu.
“The margin on alcohol is good, so it should help us,” he said.
Bednarz has been omnipresent on social media throughout the coronavirus shutdown.
Another stipulation of the executive order is that each order for delivery or takeout of cocktails must include a meal for every two cocktails purchased. They also must be in a glass, paper or plastic container with a sealed lid.
At Casa Tequila in Purcellville and Sterling, bar manager Johnny Dugger said he is excited for the change, but he hopes people will be responsible in ordering to keep the community safe.
Casa Tequila has created family meals to-go with fajitas or enchiladas to feed four or five people for $45. Larger meals are $80 and other menu options and combinations are available as well.
Dugger's popular homemade cocktails – such as "bomb pops," which is a frozen margarita with three flavors – can be purchased to serve four drinks for $35. Other options include 10 flavors of frozen or on-the-rocks margaritas for $24, skinny margaritas made with organic agave, silver tequila and fresh lime juice for $36, or Dugger's signature drink, which is a tequila mule made with mint, tequila, lime and ginger beer for $30.
At Ford's Fish Shack's three locations in Ashburn, Lansdowne and South Riding, owner Tony Stafford said he will offer their three signature drinks – a margarita, a dark and stormy and a blueberry lemonade.
Stafford has ordered special sealable containers to sell the cocktails, he said.
“It's a nice opportunity to generate revenue,” he said.
Nils Schnibbe, owner of More Better in Round Hill and SideBar in Leesburg, said selling cocktails “should be a big help.”
“Our very popular brunch will be even better now with bloody marys and tequila sunrise. This is a good thing all around and our customers will love it,” he said.
Both restaurants are open for takeout, curbside and delivery weekdays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
At The Conche in the Village at Leesburg, to-go cocktails have been on the menu for the past year after the Virginia General Assembly passed a law in 2018 allowing takeout wine, beer and cocktails at lifestyle development shopping centers.
Conche General Manager Samet Yuksekgonul said one of the specials The Conche will be offering is an $8 Old Fashioned chocolate cocktail made with bourbon, simple syrup, and chocolate, orange and angostura bitters.
The Conche also has family meals to-go ranging from $79 to $119, and they are organizing community drop deliveries to bring orders to large neighborhoods.
“We are very thankful and happy for all of the community support since day one,” Yuksekgonul said.