alcohol delivery toronto

Ontario just made it cheaper to buy alcohol from restaurants and bars for takeout and delivery

It was a fine day in late March when provincial regulators declared that restaurants and bars in Ontario could sell booze via takeout and delivery orders.

People who were already sick of waiting in long lines for the LCBO were over the moon to learn that they could simply order a bottle of vodka alongside their brunch spreads for Caesars, or a six-pack of beer with their chicken wings on what might have once been a game night, or a heck load of tequila on a Wednesday afternoon, just because...

And then they saw how much these new, previously-undeliverable items cost.

Fifty bucks for a twixer of Smirnoff seems ridiculous when you're used to buying the same product for less than $30 at the LCBO, even with delivery factored in — and that's on the cheap side thanks to government regulations stipulating how much spirits could legally be sold for... until this week.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) just rolled out a set of "new measures to support licensed restaurants, bars and cideries during COVID-19" that should lower the prices of spirits on takeout menus by quite a bit.

"Effective immediately, the price for whiskey, gin, rum and other spirits will be temporarily reduced from the current licensee minimum price of $2.00 per 29 mL to $1.34 per 29 mL," reads a release issued by the AGCO on Tuesday.

"By making spirits more affordable the government is providing further support to restaurants, bars and other establishments that cannot serve patrons in-house during the current state of emergency."

To put these figures into perspective, a 750 ml bottle of alcohol under the previous guidelines would cost a minimum of roughly $51.72. At $1.34 per 29 ml, that same bottle can now be sold for about $34.65.

The AGCO explained in its release that, when it amending its regulations to allow booze sales through delivery and takeout amid the pandemic, it failed to adjust the legal "per-serving cost of spirits" for licensed establishments.

Today's amendment to Regulation 719 reduces that cost for spirits sold with takeout and delivery orders, though restaurants and bars "may still choose the price at which they will sell alcohol, as long as they are not lower than the minimum price requirements."

Establishments must also continue to serve spirits with food. Read: You can't call up your local Firkin and grab a bottle of whisky. You'll need to buy at least one overpriced app or salad bowl thing as well.

Another caveat: These lower prices apply only to takeout and delivery orders, and only until January 1, 2021.

"So if the declared state of emergency ended prior to January 1, 2021 and customers could be served in-house, the existing minimum price per serving for spirits would continue to apply to in-house service," explains the AGCO.

At this point, after more than seven weeks of being in lockdown mode, I don't think many people would mind paying normal prices to enjoy their spirits "in-house" with friends, as opposed to in their own houses alone.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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