These puppies are thin on the ground.
These puppies are thin on the ground. RS

After the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board suddenly lifted restrictions on sales of takeaway and delivery cocktails last Wednesday, restaurant owners scrambled to snap up a limited supply of containers that matched the LCB's new guidelines.

Some are now experiencing a shortage of those containers, as well as shipping delays on orders. As restaurants struggle to stay alive during the lockdown, managers are trying to find workarounds, or simply having to go without.

The LCB requires restaurants to sell mixers in "a container with a secure lid or cap and in a manner designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap." Managers have turned to zip-top pouches, plastic bottles, and glass bottles, to fill that requirement, but supplies have been thin on the ground.

Kan Terao, who manages a trio of izakayas on Capitol Hill (Tamari Bar, Suika, Rondo), said he's seeing a shortage of drink pouches he uses for Toki Highballs and other cocktails.

Amazon shows the pouches won't be in stock until late next week or early the week after. Terao is currently relying on a supply of mason jars to keep pushing other kinds of cocktails out the door. Those jars should last "for now," he said.

"I'll just need to keep my eyes open for availability, and be open to different container styles," Terao added. "I hope everyone else can find what they need and keep our culture alive."

Jamie Boudreau, who runs Canon, uses glass bottles rather than the pouches, but he said there's been "a shortage as well as delayed shipping on those."

"I was told to expect my order in approximately 10 business days, which means sometime next week if I’m lucky," Boudreau said. "I cannot sell cocktails until I have something to put them into."

The scene is looking much better outside Seattle.

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Abe Fox, of Tacoma's Wooden City, said he imagines "there will be a short-term shortage for a lot of these things as everyone ramps up their programs," but right now he's got enough of the glass bottles and caps he uses for his cocktails. "The cost is a little more, but we like the presentation, and then we have customers return bottles for $ off their next round," he added.

Bellingham Redlight bar owner Logan McQuaig said he's been selling mixers in plastic bottles with tamper-proof lids, which were allowed under the original rules. When he heard about the LCB lifting the restrictions a little, he ordered a pallet of thousands of them from a wholesale company, scheduled to arrive tomorrow. "Obviously nobody's ready for this, so we're all gonna have to get creative with how we package stuff within the rules," McQuaig said in an email.

In the meantime, I am calling on President Donald Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to get these freaky little drink pouches and glass bottles into the hands of Seattle restaurant-and-bar-owners. We cannot wait for the market to provide these basic resources to Americans who have already sacrificed several sunny days without professionally crafted cocktails from some of our favorite spots. The President must act now. We can afford to dally no longer.

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