Sales of mixed drinks, liquor and beer in Arkansas last year show, unsurprisingly, a decided uptick over those in 2020, the pandemic year, but they also picked up compared with 2019, particularly sales of mixed drinks.
Excise tax collections for mixed drinks in 2021 rose 71% compared with 2020, but were also up 18% compared with 2019, before the pandemic struck.
“The increase in mixed drink tax collection for 2021 is consistent with increased collection for the restaurant industry overall,” Scott Hardin, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration, said in an email. “The restaurant sector saw a recovery in 2021 from the COVID slump of 2020.”
As for the big rise in mixed-drink tax collections last year, Hardin said that “reflects the fact Arkansans were ready to spend disposable income following a year in which restaurant visits were rare. We saw that same recovery in a variety of sectors in 2021.
“Prior to 2020, mixed drink collection was consistently increasing year to year. A temporary emergency rule change allowed restaurants to offer mixed drinks to go (or delivery) for a period of time under the public health emergency. While that temporary rule change expired, it was ultimately made permanent by the legislature. The rule change certainly provided restaurants an additional tool to help them through a tough time in 2020.”