Selling Alcohol Without A Liquor License: Flying Under The Radar

First Successful Flight of the Wright Flyer by the Wright Brothers (17 December 1903). Source:  Library of Congress.

First Successful Flight of the Wright Flyer by the Wright Brothers (17 December 1903). Source: Library of Congress.

If you’re selling alcohol without a liquor license, you’re on a collision course. You’re putting your personal and business assets at risk. Selling alcohol without a license in California is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in county jail. And if you ever plan to get a liquor license in the future, the California Alcoholic Beverage Control may deny it.

Here’s a perfect example . . .

A Federal judge last week upheld New Mexico’s denial of a liquor license to U.S. Airways.

Why?

Well…  in 2007, the airline didn’t possess a state liquor license, yet it was serving alcohol onboard. And one passenger had too much to drink on a flight to Albuquerque. Later that day, he was involved in a crash, killing 5 people (his BAC was four times the legal limit). After the incident, U.S. Airways applied for a liquor license, but the state denied it.

U.S. Airways appealed, but U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo found that “neither the Airline Deregulation Act nor the Federal Aviation Act can pre-empt state liquor control laws,” according to the Associated Press.

In California, U.S. Airways sells alcohol legally. It pays a substantial fee for the privilege of a Type 55, airplane liquor license. The license permits the airline to serve beer, wine and distilled spirits to passengers, or employees not on duty, age 21 and older while grounded in California and over the state’s airspace on each of its 40 scheduled flights.

There is no record of any liquor license fines or suspensions against the airline in California. Of course, that doesn’t mean passengers have never been over-served or that minors haven’t obtained alcohol. 

The California Alcoholic Beverage Control prioritizes its investigations. An egregious case involving personal injury or death is always a priority.

People who sell alcohol without a liquor license are flying under the radar. This includes scenarios like:

  • Businesses that have a liquor license application pending—and just can’t wait for the license to issue, so they sell alcohol anyway
  • Liquor licensees who cater alcohol at special events off site without an alcohol caterer’s permit
  • Social hosts who have parties open to the public where admission is charged and alcohol is included
  • Businesses operating a members-only club without a private club license

Problem is, people who sell alcohol without a liquor license, and their business location, may not be qualified to hold a license. As a result, the business doesn’t receive the compliance checks, legal updates or training to keep it safe and legal.

Just like air traffic controllers help keep planes from colliding, the California Alcoholic Beverage Control helps protect businesses and public safety through its licensing, compliance and prevention programs.

So, if you need a liquor license and don’t have one… as the song says, straighten up and fly right is really good advice.

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for your question, Cindy. You can complete a Complaint form and send to ABC Headquarters in Sacramento (the address is on the form), or fax to them at 916.419.2599. Although the form says, “Complaint
    Against Licensee,” and there is no “licensee” involved, HQ will still route the form to the
    appropriate District Office for investigation. Here is the link to the form:
    http://www.abc.ca.gov/FORMS/ABC099E.pdf

  2. Sheena says

    Hopefully, I’m not too late in asking this question….

    Under scenarios of “flying under the radar” you list Social hosts who have parties open to the public where admission is charged and alcohol is included

    How does ABC define “public” v. “private” e.g. a public place/event v. a private place/event ??

    Thank you!!! This site is great.

  3. says

    Hi, Sheena and thanks for your good question. The latest interpretation, as I understand it, is that any time there is a sale of alcohol, then ABC considers it public, not private, event. The law defines “sale” as including “any transaction whereby for any consideration, title to alcoholic beverages is transferred from one person to another, and includes the delivery of alcoholic beverages . . . and receiving an order . . .” Consideration need not be cash, it could be a ticket, for example. The most common and dangerous example of the social host selling without a license is the teen drinking party. You may ask, “What about right to privacy, private property, etc.?” Well, law enforcement must consider search and seizure issues and normally review their policies with their local prosecutor before busting teen drinking parties. Most of these parties are in plain view, however, so there are no search and seizure issues. Upon lawful entry to a teen party, officers can seize all the alcohol where 10 or more minors (under 21) are consuming. There are lots of other laws that apply, too, including one that holds parents responsible and liable for a misdemeanor, under certain circumstances. I hope this answers your question.

  4. Sheena says

    Thank you, that clears things up for me.

    Just to make sure I understand, if you have an event in a public place (like a wedding reception in a hall) but are providing liquor at no cost to guests, then you don’t need a licence?

  5. says

    As long as it’s not a hall in a licensed establishment such as a banquet room within a hotel or restaurant, and there is no consideration involved, then you don’t need a license. Events or activities on a licensed premises are subject to all the laws applying to a licensee. Be aware, though that even though the event itself does not require a license, no provision of state liquor laws may be violated (e.g., service to/possession by person under 21; service to obviously intoxicated person; allowing drunk person to be on premises).

  6. pablo says

    can an antique show offer free wine on opening night? do they need a licensed company to pour, purchase etc? or can they just buy win at a store and have a legal aged bartender pour?
    Thanks,

    Pablo

  7. says

    Pablo,
    No they could not. They should get a licensed caterer to handle the alcohol.

    Section 23399.1 of the California Business & Professions Code defines a “private party” in which case no license would be required. All THREE of these elements would have to exist for NO license required at a private party:
    1. There is no sale of an alcoholic beverage
    2. The premises are not open to the general public during the time alcoholic beverages are served, consumed or otherwise disposed of
    3. The premises are not maintained for the purpose of keeping, serving, consuming or otherwise disposing of alcoholic beverages.

    To find a business who has a Type 58 Caterer’s Permit, you can go to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s website. Then do the following:
    *Click on Licensing Reports
    *Click on Ad-hoc Reports
    *Query by City and License Type
    *Select City
    *Select Type 58

  8. Michael says

    Hi, I am a starting out caterer and I wanted to know if this was ok to do or not. I have someone wanting alcohol severed at their event. It is a private residence. I was going to tell them that they can buy the alcohol and I would find a bartender that was licensed to pour the alcohol. Is this allowed if I don’t have a liquor license?
    Thanks,
    Michael

  9. says

    Hi Michael. I’m assuming you are a food caterer, and don’t have a Type 58 “caterer’s permit” license from the Alcoholic Beverage Control, which would authorize you to cater alcohol. Also, I’m assuming this is truly a private party, meaning there is no money exchanging hands, admission tickets, etc.

    If that’s the case, your scenario is permissible, and the bartender does not have to be “licensed” (actually there is no such thing as a bartender license in CA). Although, it is always a good idea to hire an experienced one, who has received training/certification in responsible beverage service. That being said, here are the guidelines for the bartender:

    The bartender:

    1. May NOT pick up the alcohol and then be reimbursed for it
    2. May NOT get paid in advance for alcohol, then pick it up and deliver it to the party site
    3. May NOT be paid for alcohol sales–only for bartending services (otherwise he/she would be exercising the privilege of a licensed caterer and that would be illegal)
    4. May NOT return the alcohol to the seller after the party (all alcohol belongs to the host)
    5. MAY suggest to the host what alcohol to buy and how much
    6. MAY bring equipment to the party
    7. MAY be paid a flat fee or by the hour, and collect tips for services only

  10. Johnny Hans says

    I’m thinking about starting a 24 hour alcohol delivery service here in Los Angeles i.e. delivering liquor or beer to private homes or parties anytime even after 2am. Would I need Liquor license for this? Can I get in trouble for this? and if yes, what would I be charged with?

  11. says

    Hi Johnny. If you are (a) charging for the alcohol, or (b) charging for the service, which would include the alcohol, then that would be considered a “sale” of alcohol and a license would be required. Selling alcohol without a license is a misdemeanor in California (a violation of Sec. 23300 Business & Professions Code), and carries a criminal penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and/or six months in county jail.

    There is no license available for your business model. Of course, a licensed establishment like a liquor store can deliver alcohol under its liquor license; however, not after 2 a.m. Thank you for submitting your question.

  12. Michael says

    If I am trying to get a wine and beer permit for my catering company what papers do I need to fill out? I also have a small restaurant attached to my catering kitchen that I would like to use the permit for. I live in Riverside County in California.

    Thanks!

  13. says

    Michael,

    You would have to get your restaurant licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) first, then apply to the ABC for a Type 58 Catering Permit.

    A Type 58 Catering Permit authorizes the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption at conventions, sporting events, trade exhibits, picnics, social gatherings, or similar events held any place in the state approved by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. A catering permit is not costly ($131 per year) or difficult to obtain, but you DO need to have an established, ABC-licensed business (i.e., restaurant, bar, club).

    A beer and wine license for your restaurant would cost $300 plus a $350 annual fee. There are a lot of requirements involved. Both the applicant and the premises would have to meet certain qualifications. Among other things, the restaurant would have to be regularly kept open, serving meals, and have the usual restaurant equipment. There are public notice and other requirements as well.

    There is one exception to qualifying for a Catering Permit without having an existing, ABC-licensed restaurant, bar or club:

    24045.17. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the department may issue a general on-sale license to a person who does not operate a bona fide eating place or other public premises who
    meets all of the following:
    (a) Has operated a catering business for not less than five years.
    (b) Has operated or owned for not less than one year a bona fide eating place that had a general on-sale license.
    (c) Caters over 500 events annually.
    (d) Serves alcoholic beverages at no more than 25 percent of the events catered annually and has revenues from the sale of alcoholic beverages which do not constitute more than 25 percent of his or her
    total annual revenues.
    (e) Obtains an annual permit to serve alcoholic beverages at events and obtains an authorization for each event, as specified in Section 23399.

    Thanks for your question. Feel free to contact me with any follow-up questions or information you may need.

  14. Jason says

    I have a follow up regards the question on the antique show serving alcohol above. I’m just wondering what a possible course of action is to lodge a complaint against a business doing such a thing? We have an art space near us that regularly holds events in an outdoor space & has loud music, etc, and they serve alcohol, with the patrons spilling onto the streets in the surrounding area. Looking at the 3 items you mention:

    All THREE of these elements would have to exist for NO license required at a private party:
    2. The premises are not open to the general public during the time alcoholic beverages are served, consumed or otherwise disposed of

    this is definitely not the case as it is open to anyone. Do I lodge a complaint with the Licensing Board (even if there is no license)? Is there someone else?

    thanks

  15. says

    Yes, you would file a complaint with the state liquor authority. If the antique show is being held in California, then the proper agency would be the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). I would recommend completing the complaint form (even though it is titled, Complaint Against Licensee) and sending or faxing it to the appropriate ABC district office.

    And, if you haven’t already, start keeping a written log of the dates, times and nature of the disturbances. The ABC will be interested in this information.

    You should also file a complaint with your local law enforcement agency.

  16. Adam says

    looking to start a mobile bartend busniess what would be the license or permits i would need? do i really need a building to run this out of? since i’m only purchasing a MOBILE BAR station?

  17. says

    Hi Adam,
    Thanks for your question. I have a few questions before I can provide an answer. What services will you provide? Who are your customers? How will you acquire the alcoholic beverages?

  18. Paul says

    I have the the same questions as Adam. I also will buy a portable bar and work out of my home. I will provide bartenders, mobile bar, glassware juices and garnishes for mixed drinks.I will mainly work weddings. All alcoholic beverages will be bought by the couples.

  19. James says

    i am opening a preforming arts venue / retail store. we will have live music, comedy, live theater, art shows and other such events on a weekly basis. during the day we will be operating as a retail store selling clothing and other such stuff. we will have private and public shows. some shows will be free and others will not.

    i was originally looking into getting a full liquor License but that seems costly and unnecessary. i know want to just get a license to serve beer and wine. would a Type 58 Catering Permit work for this business model?

    ive also seen places with similar business models operating on a basis of free drinks by donation with no donation min. can you comment on the legality of this. they seem to think it perfectly legal and one of the places im speaking of has been doing this for over 5 years.

    thanks for the help

  20. says

    Paul,
    Your business concept, as you describe it, does not appear to be in violation of any laws, and no alcoholic beverage license or permit is available or needed for your concept. These are the guidelines the ABC provides to keep what you’re doing legal. A bartender:
    1. May NOT pick up the alcohol and then be reimbursed for it
    2. May NOT get paid in advance for alcohol, then pick it up and deliver it to the party site
    3. May NOT be paid for alcohol sales–only for bartending services (otherwise he/she would be exercising the privilege of a licensed caterer and that would be illegal)
    4. May NOT return the alcohol to the seller after the party (all alcohol belongs to the host)
    5. MAY suggest to the host what alcohol to buy and how much
    6. MAY bring equipment to the party
    7. MAY be paid a flat fee or by the hour, and collect tips for services only

  21. says

    James,

    Thanks for your question. Here are my thoughts:

    1. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issues a Special On-Sale General (full liquor) license and a Special On-Sale Beer & Wine License to non-profit theater companies who meet certain qualifications. Are you a non-profit per the IRS Code?
    2. An On-Sale Beer & Wine License permits the sale of beer and wine for consumption on the premises; however, to qualify for this license, you would have to either be a “bona fide eating place” (serve meals) OR restrict persons under 21 from entering the venue. With either type license, you must be open to the public at all times.
    3. The Type 58 Caterer’s Permit is a special add-on license intended for the catering of special events by a business that is already licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
    4. As far as an unlicensed place offering “free drinks by donation,” this would be illegal. Section 23300 Business & Professions (B&P) Code says you can’t exercise license privileges without holding a license. Section 23025 defines “sale” of alcoholic beverages: “. . . any transaction whereby, for any consideration, title to alcoholic beverages is transferred from one person to another, and includes the delivery of alcoholic beverages pursuant to an order . . .” Therefore, a business that accepts donations or charges admission in exchange for an alcoholic beverage would be engaged in the “sale” of alcoholic beverages and would require a license. This type of activity could also be considered an illegal “bottle club” (violation of Section 25604 B&P Code–a public nuisance subject to abatement by the district attorney or attorney general).

    I hope this helps.

  22. Sam says

    What if unlicensed reastaurant offers free beer or wine without any donation? It’s just free, with your order of $20.00 or more.
    Thank you!

  23. says

    Sam,
    This type of activity would be against the law. Section 25604 of the Business & Professions Code,
    which prohibits “bottle clubs,” says:

    “It is a public nuisance for any person to maintain any club
    room in which any alcoholic beverage is received or kept, or to which
    any alcoholic beverage is brought, for consumption on the premises
    by members of the public or of any club, corporation, or association,
    unless the person and premises are licensed under this division. It
    is a public nuisance for any person to keep, maintain, operate or
    lease any premises for the purpose of providing therein for a
    consideration a place for the drinking of alcoholic beverages by
    members of the public or other persons, unless the person and
    premises are licensed under this division. As used herein
    “consideration” includes cover charge, the sale of food, ice, mixers
    or other liquids used with alcoholic beverage drinks, or the
    furnishing of glassware or other containers for use in the
    consumption of alcoholic beverage drinks.
    The Attorney General or any district attorney may bring an action
    in the name of the people to abate the nuisance, and the Attorney
    General shall, upon request of the [Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control], bring the action.”

  24. Joshua says

    I have a 501c3 organization in California and wanted to start a monthly wine club. What type of license would we need.

  25. says

    Joshua – It depends. There are several types of businesses (licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) who sell direct to consumers on the internet, including winegrowers, beer manufacturers (some with a brick-and-mortar premises; some with office space only; some with a home office), and retail-licensed businesses (e.g., wine shops, etc.). And not all are in compliance with state liquor laws. Because this topic is very complex, I recommend contacting me directly for further information. email lauren@theliquorlicenseadvisor.com or call 951-226-7845.

  26. Rd says

    Hey, thanks for all the good advice.

    I want to open a small performance/music venue in Los Angeles. It will essentially have live music, DJs, and a bar. I’m assuming I have to get the type 48 license.. but I was wondering if there is any loopholes, roundabouts ways to get an easier license, or if there’s any benefit to becoming a non-profit?

    Thanks for any/all help..

  27. says

    Rd,

    Thanks for your question. If you want to sell beer, wine and spirits (without serving full meals), then a Type 48, On-Sale General Public Premises, is the license required. As you may already know, a Type 48 is costly (market value is $40,000-50,000 last time I checked), and you must buy the license from a private party who has one available to sell, open escrow, and transfer it to your name and your desired location.

    A Type 42, On-Sale Beer & Wine license, on the other hand, is readily available from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), provided you and the premises qualify. The fee is $561. Like a Type 48, meals would not be required, and no person under 21 would be allowed in.

    Problem is, you are in Los Angeles. A Type 48 or a Type 42 can be difficult to obtain in Los Angeles unless you can buy an existing business. Most areas are high in crime and over concentrated with licenses already. This means you’ll have to establish “public convenience and necessity” (prove why the area needs another license). In addition, the city (or county) requires that you obtain a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) in most cases. A CUP can cost up to $10,000 and take 6-12 months. The CUP process is separate from the ABC application process, and ABC won’t issue a license until your CUP is approved.

    As for benefits of being a non-profit, it doesn’t help you one way or another in obtaining a Type 48 or Type 42 license. Aside from temporary licenses issued to non-profit organizations for special events, there are only a few permanent license types available from the ABC intended for non-profit organizations involved with theaters/music, and none of them fit your stated business model. They are:

    Type 64, Special On-Sale General Theater; Type 69, On-Sale Beer & Wine Theater; and Type 65, Special On-Sale Beer & Wine Symphony.

    Here are the sections of law that permit licenses to be issued to theater companies and symphonies:

    24045.7. Theater Company. (a) (1) The department may issue a special on-sale general license to any nonprofit theater company that is exempt from the payment of income taxes under Section 23701d of the Revenue and Taxation Code and Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States. . . . Theater companies holding a license under this subdivision may, subject to Section 25631, sell and serve alcoholic beverages to ticketholders only during, and two hours prior to and one hour after, a bona fide theater performance of the company. . . . The department may issue a special on-sale beer and wine license to any nonprofit theater company which has been in existence for at least eight years, which for at least six years has performed in facilities leased or rented from a local county fair association, and which is exempt from the payment of income taxes under Section 23701d of the Revenue and Taxation Code and Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States. . . .”

    24045.85. Symphony Association. The department may issue a special on-sale beer, wine, or distilled spirits license to any symphony association organized as a nonprofit corporation more than 30 years before the date of application and which is exempt from the payment of income taxes under Section 23701d of the Revenue and Taxation Code and Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 of the United States. A symphony association holding a license under this section may sell and serve alcoholic beverages only to persons attending concerts on the licensed premises. Sales of alcoholic beverages shall only be permitted, subject to Section 25631, during the period commencing two hours before the performance and ending one hour after the performance. . . .

    In summary, there are no loopholes and no easy way to obtain a Type 48 or Type 42 license.

  28. Sally says

    Hello, I have a commercial building in Santa Fe Springs, CA that I would like to turn into a banquet hall for parties. What type of license and requirements would I need to apply for to serve beer and wine?

  29. Sally says

    Private- Kids Birthday Parties, Quinceañeras, Baby or wedding showers

    Weekends only Sat- Sun

    How often would depend on how often I have someone that wants to have a party.

  30. JG says

    Is a license required for a hair salon who may give a glass of wine, or any other beverage, at the client’s request, for free, to a salon patron who is getting their hair styled?

  31. says

    Sally,

    Section 23399.1 of the California Business & Professions Code defines a “private party,” where an alcoholic beverage license is NOT required. ALL THREE of these elements must exist for a private party:

    1. That there is no sale of an alcoholic beverage. “Sale” includes direct transactions such as paying for a glass of wine AND indirect transactions such as asking for donations from guests, admission charges, or charging for the food and the alcohol is included.

    2. That the premises are not open to the general public during the time alcoholic beverages are served, consumed or otherwise disposed of.

    3. That the premises are not maintained for the purpose of keeping, serving, consuming or otherwise disposing of alcoholic beverages.

    You didn’t mention if there would be a “sale” of alcohol at your events (Item 1). But even if there won’t be, and even if your events are not open to the general public (Item 2), the ABC may consider your hall as being “maintained for the purpose of serving alcoholic beverages” (Item 3), even if on an occasional basis. In that case, a license will be required.

    Problem is, there is no permanent beer and wine license available for your business model. The only licenses available for on-premise consumption of beer and wine are Type 41 for a restaurant and Type 42 for a bar.

    Since there is no license available to fit your business model, you could consider having a licensed caterer handle the alcohol for you. In other words, someone who has a Type 58 Catering Permit issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). This person is authorized to cater beer, wine and spirits at a private party or an event open to the public. Each event would have to be approved by the ABC. This approval is something the caterer would be responsible for.

    The licensed caterer may be located anywhere in the state. However, each catered site is limited to 24 catered events per calendar year. This limitation may put a constraint on your plans.

    To find a Type 58 licensee, go to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s website. Then do the following:
    *Click on Licensing Reports
    *Click on Ad-hoc Reports
    *Query by City and License Type
    *Select City
    *Select Type 58

    As an additional resource, the ABC District Office that handles liquor licensing in your area is the Monrovia District Office, phone 626-456-3241. They are ultimately responsible for making any licensing or compliance decisions in your area. I would suggest running the idea by them.

  32. Randall Soliz says

    Hello Lauren,

    I want to start a mobile bartender business. I want to be able to buy my own liquor and serve it.It sounds like this is not possible without a Type 58 Caterer’s Permit – I don’t have a restaurant or a bar to build off of. I also am working on starting a non profit business. Can I have fundraisers where I buy the alcohol and sell it to raise money for my different causes?

    Thank you for your time and help,

    Randall Soliz
    Northern California

  33. Karen says

    I am a caterer and I do not have an alcohol license since I do not have a restaurant yet. If my client decides to serve alcohol ( they will bring their own supplies ) for a private event (birthdays, weddings, retirements,etc) and hire us to serve the alcohol, is that a ok? Thank you.

  34. says

    You’re right, Randall. As a mobile bartender, you can’t buy your own liquor and serve it without a license. And there is no license for your business model. Somewhere in the process of your services, you will receive compensation from those you are serving, and that would be exercising the privileges of a license–without a license. Not legal. If you had a Type 58 Caterer’s Permit (attached to an existing restaurant or bar), that would be a different story.

    As far as a non-profit business goes, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) issues “Special Daily” and “Daily General” licenses to certain non-profit organizations who want to sell alcohol at fundraisers and other special events. However, these are not considered permanent licenses, and you would be limited to a certain number of them per year.
    There are also permanent CLUB licenses for certain types of organizations.

    To qualify for a Daily GENERAL license (beer, wine and spirits), you must be an organization formed for a specific charitable or civic purpose, a fraternal organization in existence for over five years, a religious organization, or a political organization

    To qualify for a Special Daily BEER AND/OR WINE license, you must be an existing non-profit organization, including a charitable, civic, cultural, fraternal, patriotic, political, religious, social or amateur sports organization
    The organization must first be qualified by the ABC. As proof, you will have to bring in IRS and/or Franchise Tax Board documents showing your tax exempt status with your tax I.D. number.

    The various types of permanent CLUB LICENSES available to non-profit organizations are listed in the ABC Act starting at Section 23425.

    For now, to keep your mobile bartending business legal, here are the guidelines the ABC provides to help ensure you are not illegally “selling alcohol without a license”. These are the same ones I previously posted on this blog. As a bartender, you:
    1. May NOT pick up the alcohol and then be reimbursed for it
    2. May NOT get paid in advance for alcohol, then pick it up and deliver it to the party site
    3. May NOT be paid for alcohol sales–only for bartending services (otherwise he/she would be exercising the privilege of a licensed caterer and that would be illegal)
    4. May NOT return the alcohol to the seller after the party (all alcohol belongs to the host)
    5. MAY suggest to the host what alcohol to buy and how much
    6. MAY bring equipment to the party
    7. MAY be paid a flat fee or by the hour, and collect tips for services only

  35. says

    That should be okay, Karen, as long as it truly is a “private party,” as defined in the law. Section 23399.1 of the California Business & Professions Code says that if all THREE of the following elements exist, then no license is required:

    1. That there is no sale of an alcoholic beverage. [Note: “Sale” includes direct transactions such as paying for a glass of wine AND indirect transactions such as asking for donations from guests, admission charges, or charging for the food and the alcohol is included.]

    2. That the premises are not open to the general public during the time alcoholic beverages are served, consumed or otherwise disposed of.

    3. That the premises are not maintained for the purpose of keeping, serving, consuming or otherwise disposing of alcoholic beverages.

    If the event is held at a licensed premises, then it is not considered a private party. If the event doesn’t meet the definition of a private party, and a license is required, or if you have any question about a certain event, you should contact the ABC district office closest to where the event will take place.

  36. Carol says

    We operate a tour company and charge for our packaged tours. I have a client that would like to add wine on the bus as well as water and soft drinks. It is my understanding that I cannot sell her the wine. Can I put the wine in the cooler on a “complimentary” basis and state it as such in the contract?

  37. says

    Carol – Thank you for your question. The law allows limousines and hot air balloon ride services to serve alcoholic beverages under certain conditions, but no other types of business enterprises are included. I’m not an expert in the legal definition of “limousine” versus “tour bus,” but my guess is that, as a tour bus operator, you probably don’t qualify to serve. Otherwise, the law would have specified “tour busses.” Here is what the law says about limousines and hot air balloon ride services:

    “23399.5. Limousine, hot air balloon ride services serving alcoholic beverages. (a) No license or permit is required for the serving of alcoholic beverages in a limousine by any person operating a limousine service regulated by the Public Utilities Commission; provided there is no extra charge or fee for the alcoholic beverages.
    For purposes of this subdivision, there is no extra charge or fee for the alcoholic beverages when the fee charged for the limousine service is the same regardless of whether alcoholic beverages are served.
    (b) No license or permit is required for the serving of alcoholic beverages as part of a hot air balloon ride service, provided there is no extra charge or fee for the alcoholic beverages.
    For purposes of this subdivision, there is no extra charge or fee for the alcoholic beverages when the fee charged for the hot air balloon ride service is the same regardless of whether alcoholic beverages are served.
    History.—Added by Stats. 1986, Ch. 1354, in effect January 1, 1987. Stats. 1998, Ch. 639, in effect January 1, 1999, added sub. (b) hot air balloon ride service.”

  38. Reanne says

    If a restaurant is selling beer and wine without a license can the employees and manager (non-owner) suffer any consequences for violating the law.
    I have reason to believe that the restaurant I work at is doing just this and I when I brought it up the owner of the restaurant I was told not to worry about it.

  39. says

    Thanks for your question, Reanne. Yes. If a restaurant is selling beer and wine without a license, it IS possible that a police officer or ABC investigator may cite OTHERS than just the business owner. It would depend upon the circumstances. Whomever is cited, it would be a misdemeanor citation into criminal court. Also, in a licensed business–or when a license is required as in your scenario–there could be also civil liability for any injury or death resulting from sale or service to an obviously intoxicated minor. Liquor law enforcement by both the ABC and local law enforcement is ongoing throughout the state. It’s a poor business decision to sell alcohol without a license and doesn’t show much leadership or regard for staff. By the way, if there is a license, it must be posted. Also, anyone can query on the Department of ABC’s website to check if there is a license for a certain location.

  40. James says

    i am in North Hollywood and im opening a live music venue. i am hoping to obtain a beer and wine license. i plan to work toward a full liquor license but want to start with the more reasonable prices beer and wine.

    i saw you tell someone else that getting such a license is hard in Los Angeles because of the crime rate. do you feel that will be the case in North Hollywood artist district?

    how much will this cost me and about how long does it take.

    im hoping to sign the lease on the location in the next few weeks.

  41. says

    James – Is your location currently licensed to sell alcohol and are you transferring the existing license to your name? That will make things easier. If not, you will need both a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the Los Angeles Planning Department and a beer and wine license from the ABC. The CUP will cost around $6,000 or more and take 6-12 months. The beer and wine license costs $650 plus fingerprint fees and takes 3-9 months, depending upon whether anyone protests. The Los Angeles Planning Department, Valley Division, in Van Nuys handles the North Hollywood area. Their number is 818-374-5050.
    Likewise, the ABC office is in Van Nuys and their number is 818-901-5017.

  42. Karen says

    Since we are not qualified to apply for a license yet ( since we do not have a restaurant), is there any other way we can sell alcohol? Is there any license we can apply that is apropriate for us? Thank you in advance.

  43. says

    Karen, as a caterer who does not have a restaurant or bar licensed with an On-Sale General License, you could not sell alcoholic beverages. Please see also my response to Rick, regarding Section 24045.17 of the CA Business & Professions Code. However, that provision of law has quite a few requirements.

  44. Gina says

    Ms. Tyson!
    You are amazingly thorough in all of your answers and I have gained much knowledge by reading the above responses. I have done a reasonable amount of research on my own, but would still like clarification on my proposed business model. I, like a few others here, want to open a “mobil bar” business. I would be roviding alcohol under a Type 47 or 48 with a Caters permit (58). I understand as well that every event I would “cater” would require a seperate approval from ABC.
    My questions for you are:

    Is there any stipulation to the catering license or permit approval process stating that I MUST provide food?

    Would you know if there is a copy of the event Catering Permit that ABC requests available online?

    If I were to obtain my license 47 or 48 with Catering Permit do you see anyway possible that I could franchise out my business model? Would people that I sold the concept to have to have their own liquor licenses? (i.e. can I have multiple Type 58 licenses added under the same Type 47 or 48? Or possibly have people “contracted” under my Type 58 license throught the state?)

    I look forward to your insightful answers!!
    Thank you in advance for your time!
    ~Cheers!

  45. says

    Gina, thanks for your kind words! You are correct that each catered event would require a separate approval from ABC. In answer to your questions:

    (1) No food is required to be served at the catered events (even though a master License Type 47 requires full meals at its restaurant). There is an exception when the site is within certain distances to certain sensitive uses.

    (2) All the forms to apply are online. Once you have your 47 or 48 license, you would apply for the Caterer’s Permit by submitting Form ABC-239, Additional License/Permit Application, with the proper fee to your local ABC District Office. Then, for each event you wish to cater, you would submit a Form ABC-218, Catering or Event Authorization Application to the District Office. Instructions are available online also, as well as a fact sheet on Caterer’s Permits, Form ABC-525. The Form ABC-525 will give you details you need such as authorized locations for events and more.

    (3) Many California liquor licensees are franchises. Each “franchisee” is required to obtain their own liquor license (and caterer’s permit, if any). There is no law permitting ABC to issue multiple Type 58-Caterer’s Permits to be attached to a single liquor license. In addition, no one but a licensee can sell alcoholic beverages under a given liquor license or caterer’s permit.

    I hope this helps! Lauren

  46. naty says

    Hi,

    Can a person who is undocumented be a partner to someone with a beer license? Can htey both be put on the paperwork?

  47. says

    Naty, thanks for your question. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) requires anyone who is applying for a license as a sole owner provide proof of eligibility as a U.S. citizen, national or alien. Form ABC-069 describes this in more detail.

    However, if the business will be owned by a partnership, corporation, limited partnership or limited liability company, then this proof is not required.

    All applicants, whether sole owner or not, must show some documentary proof of age and identity at the time of filing the application (an ABC license can only be issued to a person age 21 or older). This proof of age and identity usually consists of a California driver’s license or state-issued ID card. If you don’t have either of these documents, I would recommend you contact your local ABC district office to find out what sort of ID they will require you to show. I hope this helps. Lauren

  48. Krys says

    Hello,

    If I am planning to bartend for an event that is located in a mall premises. What type of liquor licene would I need. The company is a cosmetic store and they do not have a liquor licenses, which is why they requested if I had a liquor license. Do you have any suggestions?

  49. says

    There are only two ways alcohol could be sold in this situation. The first is by a licensed caterer. That is, a business who already has a permanent ABC license (e.g., Type 47 or 48) AND Type 58 caterer’s permit. The second is by a non-profit or other qualified organization that has been issued a Special Daily License or Daily General License for that particular date, location and time. In the latter case, any profits from the alcohol sales would go to the licensed organization, and not to the cosmetic store. If the cosmetic store used either of these two options, you could still be involved as a bartender, but the bartender “rules” (previously posted on this blog) would apply. There are also instances where winegrowers and beer manufacturers can be involved in events and provide samples.

    There is no such thing as a license issued to an individual bartender. Also, as a cosmetic store, they are not allowed to give alcohol away. Thanks for your question. Lauren

  50. Krys says

    thank you. What if the store does not want to sell it and just wants to hand it out to guest who are coming to the event which is a 3 hour event to launch a new product line. I would be consider a mobile bartend

  51. says

    Krys,

    You’re welcome. The store could not hand out alcohol as you describe. It is not legal to give, sell or furnish alcoholic beverages at an unlicensed business such as a salon, clothing store, jewelry store, art gallery, etc. This would violate Section 23300 of the California Business & Professions Code (a misdemeanor). The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control would consider this activity an illegal “bottle club” (Section 25604, a public nuisance). Lauren

  52. David says

    Going back to Krys’s question. Who would be penalized? Would it be the company such as Normstorms or would it be the bartender who is serving the drinks?

    Going back to the art gallery, would it be ok for a bartender to bartend the event? Or would they be liable as well?

  53. says

    David, if an unlicensed business was giving alcohol away (e.g., Nordstrom, art gallery, etc.), and there was a bartender serving drinks, the person who would be criminally liable (cited for a misdemeanor) would depend. Most likely it would be the person/manager in charge, but if the bartender was accepting tips, it could be argued that he/she was “selling” without a license as well. In that case, both could be cited. It is the investigating officer’s (local police or ABC) discretion as to whom to cite, and to cite or not to cite depends on the circumstances and evidence present at the time of the investigation. For example, back in the 1980s when I was an undercover ABC investigator, my partner and I would sometimes just have the kid dump the beer out, if we caught a person under age 21 in possession of beer. It just depends. If I was a bartender, I would avoid putting myself in that situation. I hope this helps, and thanks for your post. Lauren

  54. David says

    That was very helpful. I am sure this will help others. Thank you again for all your time. I was just confused to the #7 guideline you listed if the individual was a bartender who had their mobile bartending license but this would only work if it was a private event?

  55. says

    David, you’re welcome. The ABC’s bartender guidelines that I posted on 1/13/2011 pertain to private parties, where no license is required. By the way, when you say “mobile bartender license” what are you referring to? I just want folks to be clear there is no mobile bartender license issued by the ABC. Lauren

  56. jessse says

    hello

    i own a nightclub specializing in live music. i have an artist who wants to host a party at my location and wants to have an open beer and wine bar. the party will be free to their guest but open to the public for a door fee. it is my understanding that giving away beer and wine for free is illegal unless the event is free for everyone.

  57. says

    Jesse, yours is a tricky question because (1) private parties at a licensed establishment normally must be approved by the local ABC district office, (2) there could be an issue of discrimination involved (i.e., admission free to some, but not others), (3) giving away free alcohol (or free anything else in connection with the sale of alcohol) is never legal at a licensed establishment (with some exceptions for “samples/tastes” that don’t apply in your situation). For these reasons, I recommend you contact your local ABC district office before you move forward with the idea. Ask to speak with the district administrator or enforcement supervisor. Thanks for your question. Lauren

  58. says

    Angie,

    I’m going to give you the long answer because there are a number of options.

    Alcohol may be served/sold at a special event held at an unlicensed art gallery—or other unlicensed place open to the public—upon issuance of a license or permit by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). There are several types of organizations, and not just a caterer, who may qualify for a license or permit for a special event. Here are the types of licenses and permits and who qualifies for them:

    CATERING PERMIT – Authorizes Type 41 and 47 (restaurants) 42 and 48 (bars), 51, 52 and 57 (private clubs) 75 (brewpub-restaurant), and 78 (cultural museum) and certain large-scale catering businesses, to sell beer, wine and spirits for consumption at conventions, sporting events, trade exhibits, picnics and social gatherings. Cost is $131-871 per year based upon type of license, plus $10 per event. Note: Private clubs may only cater alcohol on their licensed premises.

    SPECIAL DAILY BEER AND/OR WINE LICENSE – Authorizes the sale of beer and/or wine. Issued only to existing nonprofit organizations. Qualifying organizations include charitable, civic, cultural, fraternal, patriotic, religious, social or amateur sports organizations. Sales may be to members or guests of members or to the general public. Cost is $25 per day for beer or wine; $50 for beer and wine; and $25 for beer, wine and spirits.

    DAILY ON SALE GENERAL LICENSE – Authorizes the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits. Issued only to political parties or affiliates supporting a candidate for public office or a ballot measure or charitable, civic, fraternal or religious organizations. Cost is $25 per day.

    There are also several SPECIAL TEMPORARY LICENSES issued to various entities (too numerous to mention here), and these cost $100 per day. The privileges vary depending upon the type of entity involved. You can read more about them here, beginning at Section 24045.

    Lastly, there is a WINE SALES EVENT PERMIT (Type 81) that a Authorizes Type 02 (Winegrower) to sell bottled wine produced by the winegrower for consumption off the premises where sold (“to go”), but only at fairs, festivals or cultural events sponsored by designated tax-exempt organizations.

    Each of these may be subject not only to ABC approval, but landlord and local law enforcement approval as well. For specifics about whether a specific organization or location would qualify, you should contact your local ABC district office. Thanks for your question.

  59. aaron says

    i want to open a live music night club. im pretty far along with my planning and funding. im ready to sign a lease. the drink permits seem to be the most complicated and timely process.

    i know i need a Conditional Use Permit before i get the Liquor License.

    my question is how i can legally get around having this done in time for opening. if i dont have either of these can i…..

    1 – hire a catering service to serve drinks for opening and big shows
    2 – allow people to bring there own drinks for small shows
    3 – raise the door fee and give out free drinks – (im pretty sure this is not legal)

    if im in the precess of acquiring a license will doing any or these three harm my chances???

    thanks for the help, your blog is GREAT !!!

  60. says

    Hi Aaron,
    There really are no viable ways around the waiting for the CUP and liquor license. As to (1) hiring a catering service for opening and big shows, the Catering Authorization (which the caterer would have to obtain from the ABC) would likely not be approved because these are meant for special events and not as a way to circumvent the permanent liquor licensing process; (2) allowing people to bring their own drinks could be seen as an illegal “bottle club,” a public nuisance; and (3) having a door fee and giving out free drinks is, as you guessed, illegal (sales without a license and bottle club). And yes, doing any of these could affect or delay being approved for your permanent ABC license. The local ABC district office has the last word, of course, on these matters. Thanks for your question! Lauren

  61. theresa says

    I own a nightclub in LA county and currently hold a Type-48 license. I get a lot of calls for private events to be held in my nightclub in which these prospective clients would like to have food served during the event. If I were to serve food or if I were to hire an outside caterer to serve food at these private events, would this go against my license?

  62. says

    Theresa,

    Thanks for your question. It’s understandable you would want to meet desires of future clients. At the same time, I hear your concern about the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) taking action against your license. I admire your being proactive about getting an answer, rather than risking ABC action.

    When you say “food,” I am assuming you are talking about complete meals and not just sandwiches, salads, desserts and similar short orders. Also, you don’t mention if you are shutting down the entire venue to the general public during the private event.

    I see two issues here, (1) the private event, and (2) the serving of meals at a Type 48 licensed business.

    First, the private event issue. In the past, the ABC’s policy was to require a licensee to seek approval of any private parties in advance. ABC policy required the licensee to surrender his or her license on the portion of the licensed premises where the private party was to be held. Whether that is the current policy, I don’t know. What I do know is, a licensee can’t shut down an entire licensed premises for a private event. The premises must be open to the public (except for certain private club licenses).

    As to the food issue, let me give you some background. In 1954, an amendment to the California Constitution created the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. It also spelled out the types of on-sale licenses available. The Constitution says there are, among other licenses, licenses for (a) bona fide public eating places (restaurants), and (b) for “public premises” (bars/nightclubs). The latter, of course, is the type of license that you have.

    In addition to what the Constitution says, Section 23039 of the Business & Professions Code defines “public premises.” It reads, in part:

    23039. (a) “Public premises” means:
    (1) Premises licensed with any type of license other than an
    on-sale beer license, and maintained and operated for the selling or
    serving of alcoholic beverages to the public for consumption on the
    premises, and in which food shall not be sold or served to the public
    as in a bona fide public eating place, but upon which premises food
    products may be sold or served incidentally to the sale or service of
    alcoholic beverages, in accordance with rules prescribed by the
    department.
    (2) Premises licensed with an on-sale beer license, in which food
    shall not be sold or served to the public as in a bona fide public
    eating place, and in which sandwiches, salads, desserts, and similar
    short orders shall not be sold and served, in accordance with rules
    prescribed by the department. . . .

    Section 23039 says that you, as a Type 48 licensee, may sell “food products” incidentally to alcohol. It does not say you can serve “meals” incidentally to alcohol. With liquor laws (unlike other laws), a licensee cannot do anything unless it is specifically permitted in the law.

    Again, I don’t know what kind of food you have in mind, but if it is meals, this might be a problem. In my experience, I have not seen ABC take disciplinary action against a Type 48 licensee for serving meals. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened. Usually, the reverse is the case. Restaurants, which are required to serve meals, are “morphing” (as ABC calls it) into bars and nightclubs and NOT serving the required meals. This is more and more common given the tough time restaurants are having staying afloat. ABC takes food service violations by restaurants very seriously and is actively investigating complaints of this type. The standard ABC penalty is “10 days license suspension, indefinite until compliance.”

    In summary, the “bona fide eating place” and the “public premises” licenses are separate and distinct licenses. One could argue that a “public premises” licensee is failing to comply with Section 23039 by serving meals.

    Based on the plan you have described, I don’t think ABC would allow it. But I could be wrong because of current policy of which I may be unaware. It would be best to contact your local ABC district office and speak with the enforcement supervisor. Lauren

  63. Becky-Ann Brooks says

    Hello,
    I have booked a licensed venue for my graduation party. The venue requires that I apply for a banquet license. It is an invitation only event but I am charging a small fee (prepaid not at the door) just to help cover some of the rental charges. I would like to have beer and wine and mixed drinks on sale.
    Does this hinder on a violation on ABC banquet license regulations?

    Thanks

  64. Alex says

    Hi,

    I co-founded a comedy company in Los Angeles and we are a 501(c)3 and we’d like to be within the law when it comes to offering alcohol.
    Based on reading previous responses, the Type 42 would be most relevant, but very difficult to get in LA and obviously we’d need a CUP which is costly.
    My question is, could we get a special daily beer and/or wine license for $50.00/day as mentioned above, to sell beer and wine?
    How difficult, traditionally, is that to obtain?
    Also, in the long run, which makes better business sense? (We’ve been around for five years already and plan to be around a lot longer, having already signed a long term lease on our theatre space).
    Thanks as always.

  65. says

    Hi Alex,

    Congratulations on the success of your club. The Special Daily Beer & Wine license is relatively easy to obtain, and as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, you would likely qualify for the license. However, this type of license is intended for use primarily at special events and not for an ongoing, long-term business use. Rule 59 of the California Code of Regulations provides the authority. It says, in part:

    “(a) A temporary beer license and/or a temporary wine license may be issued to a person making application therefor on behalf of an existing nonprofit organization, including a charitable, civic, cultural, fraternal, patriotic, political, religious, social or amateur sports organization, for the following purposes:

    (1) sales to members or guests of members of the organization at the site of and during an organized picnic, social gathering, or similar function of the organization; or

    (2) sales to the general public from a premises temporarily occupied at the site of and during a county fair, civic celebration or similar event, or at a designated premises and during a fund-raising event sponsored by a nonprofit charitable, civic, cultural, fraternal, patriotic, political, religious, or amateur sports organization. . . .”

    You’re correct about a Type 42, On-Sale Beer & Wine Public Premises (no food required/no persons under 21 allowed). It would be a challenge.

    You might qualify for a Type 64, On-Sale General Theater. I’m not sure. You would have to check with your local ABC district office. I would suggest writing them a letter of your intended operation and enclosing copies of your organizational papers (articles of incorporation and by-laws) for their review. Ask for a written response as to whether you’d qualify. I checked ABC records online, and the Type 64 is not that common, so it’s possible it’s not right for your concept. And I don’t see any comedy clubs with the Type 64, at least not in LA, San Diego or SF. Here is what I found for Type 64 in LA: Geffen Playhouse, Latino Theater Co., and Ebony Showcase Theater. In SF I found these Type 64′s: Z Space, American Conservatory Theater, The Playhouse and the New Conservatory Theater. And in San Diego, these are also Type 64: the San Diego Civic Theater, Balboa Theater, American Resident, San Diego Repertory, Old Globe, Diversionary Theater and Cygnet Theatre.

    Good luck with everything. Lauren

  66. says

    Becky-Ann,

    I’m not sure what the venue means by a “banquet license.” There is no such thing. Since this is a licensed venue, who will be providing and serving the alcohol? Do you plan to bring your own in, or…?

  67. Ashleigh says

    I am a legal bar with a full package liquor license. Can I rent my patio out for private parties and charge the customer a flat fee for liqour and they in turn sell it for profit at the private party on my licensed premisses.

  68. says

    Ashleigh,

    If you are a bar, then you have a retail license. A retail license does not authorize sales for resale; it only permits sales to consumers.

    Section 23300 of the Business & Professions Code says, “No person shall exercise the privilege or perform any act which a licensee may exercise or perform under the authority of a license unless the person is authorized to do so by a license issued pursuant to this division.” In addition, Section 23355 says, “Except as otherwise provided in this division and subject to the provisions of Section 22 of Article XX of the Constitution, the licenses provided for in Article 2 of this chapter authorize the person to whom issued to exercise the rights and privileges specified in this article and no others at the premises for which issued during the year for which issued.”

    This means that unless California liquor laws specifically say you can do something, you cannot do it. This is the opposite from other laws. For example, a private person can do anything unless there is a law against it. With liquor laws, a licensee can only exercise those rights and privileges that are specifically spelled out in the law. Thanks for your question. Lauren

    Lauren

  69. Esther says

    Hello! Thank you so much for all of your advice!

    I have a question about landlord/tenant situations. I am the landlord (San Diego, CA) and I believe that my tenant is selling alcohol illegally. I have used my lawyer to write the tenant multiple warnings. However, there is no change in the tenants behavior (bringing in alcoholic beverages into the unit and selling to customers. Sometimes he even drinks while working). If I report the tenant to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, what are the best forms of evidence to include on the form? Also, what will be the consequences? Will the tenant only have to pay a fine? Or will he have to close/suspend business? Will I be fined also?

    Ideally, I would like my tenant to either sell legally or just move out. I do not want a tenant that is trouble but his contract still has 7 more years.

    If he does have to close/suspend the business, will I have any rights in being paid rent?

    Not sure how much you know about this type of situation but if you have any information, that’d be great. Thank you in advance!

  70. Gareth says

    Hello! Great site you have here.
    I have a similar question to a previous one you answered.
    I will be opening a barber shop in Southern California and would love to offer my clients a beer during their service. Ive done some research and know this is illegal without a license. I began reading further and saw that a type-40 on sale beer license may work for my shop. Is this true? It seems the only requirement I could find was that I would have to also sell snacks/sandwiches, but no kitchen/restaurant is needed. Would I be able to get this license for my barber shop? Or does the business itself need to be categorized as an “eatery”? And I also saw this license only costs $200, is this correct? Thanks for taking the time to read my question.

  71. says

    Esther,

    On the complaint form, all you need to do is provide the basic information requested. It will be up to the ABC investigators to gather the evidence of the crime through their own observations and those of any witnesses. The consequences of selling without a license are potentially citation for a misdemeanor crime, which is punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in county jail. The violator will have to appear in court, and the final consequences will be up to the court. If there are alcoholic beverages being held for sale, those can all be seized as evidence. You didn’t say what kind of business he is running. There could also be action taken by the District Attorney to abate a nuisance, per the CA Business & Professions Code:

    “25604. It is a public nuisance for any person to maintain any club
    room in which any alcoholic beverage is received or kept, or to which
    any alcoholic beverage is brought, for consumption on the premises
    by members of the public or of any club, corporation, or association,
    unless the person and premises are licensed under this division. It
    is a public nuisance for any person to keep, maintain, operate or
    lease any premises for the purpose of providing therein for a
    consideration a place for the drinking of alcoholic beverages by
    members of the public or other persons, unless the person and
    premises are licensed under this division. As used herein
    “consideration” includes cover charge, the sale of food, ice, mixers
    or other liquids used with alcoholic beverage drinks, or the
    furnishing of glassware or other containers for use in the
    consumption of alcoholic beverage drinks.
    The Attorney General or any district attorney may bring an action
    in the name of the people to abate the nuisance, and the Attorney
    General shall, upon request of the department, bring the action.”

    As far as liability for you goes, you would have to be selling without a license to be liable, arrested, fined, etc. As far as landlord rights go, I would recommend asking your attorney about this. Also, the Department of Consumer Affairs has some excellent publications on landlord-tenant issues. Good luck with your efforts. Lauren

  72. says

    Hi Gareth,

    Thanks for your question. You’re right; it would be illegal to serve beer at a barber shop without a license.

    In my 29 years with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), I had never heard of a barber shop that had an alcoholic beverage license. But then, new concepts are cropping up all the time requiring me (and those at the ABC) to scratch their heads a bit. Often, there is no license available for a certain business concept, so the entrepreneur must adjust his or her business operation to fit the licenses that are available.

    I don’t know whether ABC would license a barber shop or not. I have my personal opinion about it, but first I’ll address your question.

    There are two types of On-Sale Beer licenses. Both permit you to sell beer for consumption on the premises. Both are readily available providing you and the premises qualify, are not restricted in number, and both cost $200 plus a $261 annual renewal fee.

    The Type 40, On-Sale Beer, authorizes you to sell beer for consumption on the premises and to go. Sandwiches and snacks are required (not full meals). People under age 21 may be on the premises. This type of license is issued to an assortment of business types, including bars, cafes, golf courses, bowling alleys, etc. There is no “eatery” requirement by the ABC, although the local Health Department probably has requirements. You will have to check.

    The Type 61, On-Sale Beer Public Premises, also permits you to sell beer for consumption on the premises and to go. However, persons under age 21 are not allowed to enter and remain, and warning signs are required to be posted. No food service whatsoever is required.

    Depending upon the circumstances, the ABC may license an entire building, grounds, portion of a building or grounds or space, or portion of a space. If you are not able to get your whole shop licensed, you might be able to get just a separate and controlled area within the shop licensed, either as a Type 40 or a Type 61.

    The first thing you should do is contact your local Planning Department and talk to a planner. Explain your concept and ask whether the zoning would permit the sale of beer and whether a conditional use permit (CUP) is required. If a CUP is required, you will actually have to apply for the CUP (which can cost thousands) before you can even apply for the On-Sale Beer license with the ABC.

    You may be aware that the Department of Industrial Relations requires you to have an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan if you have employees, to address unsafe working conditions and workplace hazards. I found this out by going to the CalGold site where you can find out what permits are needed for various types of businesses in California.

    The Governor’s Office of Economic Development site is also a good resource for business start-ups.

    You may also want to check with the Board of Barbering & Cosmetology to obtain their views or requirements for this concept.

    When I read your post, my initial thoughts were: effects of alcohol + sharp objects + chemicals + possible slippery floor + sanitation issues + drinking by employees = problems. I may be old-fashioned or more conservative than most, but my opinion is alcohol and barbershops (or beauty salons) don’t mix. To be honest, I don’t think I would get my hair done at a shop that served alcohol.

    After 29 years with the ABC, I naturally think about the public health and safety aspects of any licensing situation. This will also be on the minds of the ABC, the planning department, police department, and nearby residents, while deciding whether to permit, or protest, your application for an ABC license. Thank you for writing.

  73. DAvid says

    I got a question. I am a meeting planner. my clients group is having a dinner party where they are charging a flat fee per person for dinner,cockttails and wine, being held at a private hall (city venue). it is not open to the public.
    Is a licensed required
    Can i buy the liquor for them, with all extra going back to them.?
    thanks

  74. says

    David,

    The flat fee your client is charging guests is considered a “sale” of alcohol and a license is required. When there is a sale of alcohol–even though the event is not open to the public–a license is required. If you bought the liquor for them under these circumstances, you would be involved in this illegal situation.

    “Sale” includes direct transactions such as paying for an alcoholic drink AND indirect transactions such as the host asking for donations from guests, admission charges, or charging guests for the food with the alcohol included in the price.

    If it was me, I would have a licensed caterer (a business with a Type 58 caterer’s permit) handle the alcohol.

    To find a business who has a Type 58 Caterer’s Permit, you can go to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s website. Then do the following:
    *Click on Licensing Reports
    *Click on Ad-hoc Reports
    *Query by City and License Type
    *Select City
    *Select Type 58

    Thank you for your question. Lauren

  75. DAvid says

    Thank you! Can they get a one day license and if so, what is that called. Ill stay away from buying any thing and have them deal with it all, but want to steer them in the right direction. Thanks!

  76. says

    David,

    You’re quite welcome. To obtain a one-day license to serve beer/wine/spirits (called a Daily On-Sale General License), the group would have to be an existing political party/affiliate, a charitable, civic, fraternal or religious organization. If they are not one of these, then the only solution would be to eliminate the fee OR have the alcohol handled by a Type 58 licensed caterer. Lauren

  77. Andrew says

    Hello!

    What does it mean when a person asked if you are a licensed bartender? Does that mean if the person is certified?

    Is there a such thing as a licensed bartender? Please advise

  78. says

    Hi Andrew,

    In California, there is technically no such thing as a “licensed bartender.” There may be a bartender who works for a licensee (i.e., a business that is licensed by the ABC). But that just means the business is licensed, and not the bartender.

    There are training programs, approved by the ABC, which provide training for bartenders (and others who sell alcohol). Successful completion of any one of these 3-4 hour courses results in “certification” for the participant, good for two years. But this is not a “license,” per se. Maybe that is what the person meant.

    Thanks for your question. Lauren

  79. Eileen Plunkett says

    I live in a mobile home park which on Jan 31 2011 became a legal incorporated non profit. However, we have applied for a liquor license and someone turned us in because we don’t yet have it. What must we do now and will we be penalized before qualifying for a liquor license? This park opened in 68 and has offered alcoholic beverages for sale since then with no license. If the ABC chooses to prosecute someone, who would that be, the President of our non profit, the officers or the entire board OR the owner of the park itself or none of the above?

    Thank you for any help you can offer.

    Eileen

  80. Eileen Plunkett says

    I made a mistake, it is the Social Club of this park which is the non profit, not the park itself.

    Eileen

  81. says

    Eileen,

    If your club was, in fact, “turned in,” then you’ll no doubt be hearing from the ABC in the near future. In any given situation of sales without a license, it is ABC’s discretion on whether to cite and whom to cite. Each situation is different and it depends upon the circumstances. If the ABC District Office has sufficient evidence of “sales without a license,” and someone at the club is cited for this, then the ABC can inform you as to whether, or how, this violation might affect your pending license application. If you would like to speak with an attorney, I can refer you to several who handle ABC matters. Please contact me at 951-226-7845 for this referral. I hope this helps, and thanks for writing. Lauren

  82. Madelaine says

    Do you need a permit to have wine a private event such as a company party? if people are serving themselves, do you need a temporary permit to serve wine at an event? unclear on the rules.

    Thanks,
    Madelaine

  83. says

    Madelaine,

    You would need a license only if you are selling the alcohol. When there is a sale of alcohol–even though the event is not open to the public–a license is required. “Sale” includes direct transactions such as a guest paying for an alcoholic drink AND indirect transactions such as the host asking for donations from guests, admission charges, or charging guests for the food with the alcohol included in the price. Thanks for your question. Lauren

  84. Wesley says

    Hello,
    I own a liquor store in Fremont, CA. So i already have a type 21 license and am in the process of getting the type 42 for doing tastings. My question is what is the amount of beer or wine I can serve. I know that while holding a tasting it can only be a max of 2oz. per serving. But outside of doing a tasting can I serve a higher oz. tasting for a customer who is not there for a specific tasting event?

  85. says

    Hello Wesley,

    Your Type 21, Off-Sale General license, permits you to sell packaged beer, wine and spirits “to-go” only. A Type 42, On-Sale Beer & Wine Public Premises license, if granted, would permit you to sell beer and wine for consumption within a designated tasting area.

    There are two entities with authority on whether, where, and how alcohol is consumed within a proposed tasting area. They are the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and the local planning department (in consultation with the local law enforcement agency.) The city planning department regulates land use through their zoning and Conditional Use Permit powers. The ABC, of course, issues the license.

    First, let’s talk about the planning department. The planning department may require you to obtain a Conditional Use Permit from them. They will likely ask you to submit a statement of your proposed concept. It is vital to be clear about your concept from the start, including details such as tasting quantities, sale of drinks by the glass, special events, etc., so they can make the proper public notices and decisions.

    A Conditional Use Permit means there will be certain “conditions of use,” or restrictions, you must follow in regard to alcohol sales. If you already have a Conditional Use Permit because of your Type 21 license, adding another license for tastings may trigger more conditions/restrictions such as serving size and quantities, type of entertainment, hours, etc.

    As for the ABC, the ABC cannot issue a license, even for tasting purposes, contrary to a valid zoning ordinance. If the planning department does not approve of your concept, then ABC cannot. When you apply to the ABC, here again, you will have to state your intended use. Will you use the Type 42 license for tasting purposes (i.e., presentation of samples of to acquaint tasters with the characteristics of the products tasted)? Will you sell beer and wine by the glass? These are issues you should raise early in the process.

    As for size and quantities of tastings, here is what the law (California Business & Professions Code) says about on-sale licensees and instructional tastings:

    “23386(b). . . an on-sale retail licensee authorized to sell wine may instruct consumers at the on-sale retail licensed premises regarding wines sold by the retail licensee. . . . an on-sale retail licensee authorized to sell distilled spirits may instruct consumers at the on-sale retail licensed premises regarding distilled spirits. The instruction may include, without limitation, the history, nature, values, and characteristics of the product, and the methods of presenting and serving the product.

    The instruction of consumers may include the furnishing of not more than three tastings to any individual in one day. A single tasting of distilled spirits may not exceed one-fourth of one ounce and a single tasting of wine may not exceed one ounce.”

    So, by law, the daily maximum–in the aggregate–per customer for tastings is 3/4 oz. for spirits and 3 oz. for wine. A retailer may charge for these samples, but it is not required. If the retailer wants to sell more tastes beyond those that can be lawfully given away, then that is acceptable. The minimum charge should be at least 6% above cost. (By the way, I’m not sure where you got the information on the 2-oz. maximum taste size.)

    However, selling wine or spirits by the glass (such as in a wine bar), when your intended use of the Type 42 license is for tastings, may be a problem. You should discuss this with the city planner and the ABC as soon as possible.

    The existence of other issues, such as an over concentration of licenses in the area, high crime rate, proximity to homes or other sensitive uses (churches, schools, etc.), may also have a bearing on whether any ABC license is granted and what conditions/restrictions may be imposed either by the city or the ABC. Thank you for writing. Lauren

    P.S. There is a new Type 86, Instructional Tasting License, and I will be blogging about that soon.

  86. Julia says

    Hello. We are a special event compnay organizing a private event for a corporation. We will be bringing in various wineries to do winetastings, a beer producer, and various restaurants. There will be no distilled spirits served. It will be held at a public location which we have rented. Does each winery have to get a special permit for that night or can we have one of the restaurants with the right license pull a 218 permit for us for the entire evening? Or is a license needed? Thank you.

  87. Victor says

    Hi, I think I already know the answer to this, but I’d like some clarification. If you are renting a commercial space (i.e., a storefront) intended to be used as a private club (members pay dues, but can bring guests) under what circumstances (if any) would you be permitted to serve alcohol without a license? Is there any difference if it is a non-commercial space/lease?

    Thank you for your assistance!

    ~Victor

  88. says

    Hi Victor,

    I think a situation like this could be at risk of being an illegal bottle club. The bottle club law doesn’t
    distinguish between commercial vs. non-commercial space:

    “25604. It is a public nuisance for any person to maintain any club
    room in which any alcoholic beverage is received or kept, or to which
    any alcoholic beverage is brought, for consumption on the premises
    by members of the public or of any club, corporation, or association,
    unless the person and premises are licensed under this division. It
    is a public nuisance for any person to keep, maintain, operate or
    lease any premises for the purpose of providing therein for a
    consideration a place for the drinking of alcoholic beverages by
    members of the public or other persons, unless the person and
    premises are licensed under this division. As used herein
    “consideration” includes cover charge, the sale of food, ice, mixers
    or other liquids used with alcoholic beverage drinks, or the
    furnishing of glassware or other containers for use in the
    consumption of alcoholic beverage drinks.
    The Attorney General or any district attorney may bring an action
    in the name of the people to abate the nuisance, and the Attorney
    General shall, upon request of the department, bring the action.”

    Thank you for your question. Lauren

  89. says

    Hi Julia,

    It would help me to know (a) Is your client (the corporation) a for-profit or non-profit organization? (b) Is the location, or any part of it, licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control? (c) What is the purpose of bringing in the wineries, beer manufacturer and restaurants–is it to promote their products? (d) Will there be any charge for participants who consume the beer and wine, including any cover charge or donation–or is the someone covering all the costs? (d) If someone is covering the costs, who is it (generally speaking, no names)? Answers to these questions will help me reply to your question. Thank you. Lauren

  90. Joe says

    Hi!

    Great site! I own an event planning company that’s looking to host 4 major events a year in Los Angeles. Our first event is May 21st. This event will have live music, djs, professional performers (dancers, contortionist, and possibly aerial acts). We are ready to apply for all necessary permits, and I’m curious about a few things before we get started. Just so you know, my business partner has a catering liquor license that we intend to use to sell alcohol at the event. We plan to rent out a theatre in Hollywood for the night. This will be open to the public, so we’re selling general admission tickets. How difficult do you think it will be for us to obtain permitting from ABC, for such an event? And do you have any advice before we get started on all of this?

    Thanks!

  91. says

    Hi Joe,

    Without more information, it’s hard to say whether ABC will approve the event. Still, I do have some advice.

    First, there are a number of ABC laws, rules and regulations that apply. As a licensed caterer, your partner will hopefully have a working knowledge of them. But of prime concern are:

    (a) The name on the license/permit reflects the true party in interest;
    (b) There are no “tied-house” issues between the retailer (licensed caterer) and any alcohol manufacturers or wholesalers/distributors
    (c) Adequate controls exist to protect public health, safety and welfare

    Often, with special events, there are multiple organizations involved. If that’s the case, be sure to let ABC know who they are. Profits from the sale of alcohol can only go to the licensee (i.e., licensed caterer), and no one else. This is what is meant by “true party in interest.”

    These days, wineries and breweries are getting more involved in special events. Many people don’t realize there are ABC laws and rules that apply to tastings. And “tied-house” laws regulate the relationship between retailers, manufacturers (e.g., wineries, breweries) and wholesalers/distributors. This includes issues such as cooperative advertising. Some of these parties knowingly or unknowingly push the envelope on these issues.

    As to adequate controls, you didn’t say if the event will be held only inside the theater or whether the theater is now licensed. If the event will include outside areas, you will have to confine your sales, services and consumption of alcohol to a specific area under your supervision and control, and submit a diagram.

    A key concept is strict liability. This means the licensed caterer is responsible and liable for all activities and violations at his licensed premises and at any catered events. As the saying goes, “The buck stops here.” If the theater is now licensed, any permanent license issued there will have to be surrendered during your event.

    Further, the ABC may place reasonable operating restrictions (“conditions”) on the catering authorization. This is to prevent alcohol-related problems affecting public health and safety.

    To prevent and control problems, you should implement responsible business practices. This means:

    Discourage intoxication
    Promote non-alcoholic beverages and food
    Promote safe transportation alternatives (taxi, designated driver, etc.)
    No drinking on duty by anyone
    Responsible promotions and marketing
    Training for servers and security (especially on underage and intoxication issues)
    Maintain adequate staffing
    Signage informing policy on minors and intoxication
    System for rewarding responsible service
    Standard hiring system to ensure employees are responsible and experienced
    Written alcohol management policy

    The written alcohol management policy is key and would cover all of the bulleted items above, and more. It will help you in several ways. First, it shows you are being proactive in reducing risk of problems. Second, it provides guidance and rules to all involved. Third, it may help protect you in case of a lawsuit. You should require everyone involved (including door personnel, security and servers) to read and sign the policy. Also, provide a copy to the ABC when you apply for the catering authorization, and to any other authorities you contact (e.g., police, fire department).

    Take a look at the model alcohol policies for special events that I wrote for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Use them as a guide to write your own policy. It’s not hard to do and well worth the time to ensure a safe, responsible, legal and fun event–one that doesn’t result in violence, injuries, or worse.

    Lastly, ABC may ask you to obtain property owner and law enforcement agency sign-off. So, be sure to apply for the ABC approval at least 30 days in advance.

    By being proactive, and it sounds like you are, and focusing on a safe, responsible and legal event, you increase your chances of success in the long term. Good luck and thank you for writing. Lauren

  92. Julia says

    Re your questions to me on my March 3rd post. Private for-profit corporation holding the event. They are paying for the entire event through us via the corporation. The individuals don’t pay for anything. No money changes hands at the event. We coordinate all sub-contractors and vendors It is not a licensed venue but is a public building that is rented out for events. Wineries, restaurants, etc. are not there for promotional purposes just to have a great fun and a varied party.

  93. Joe says

    Thanks for all of your very helpful advice. Love the safety tips, I will begin working on a written alcohol management policy immediately!

    So my business partner’s catering liquor license is actually owned by a family member (brother or mother). Can we still use this license, and if so, does that person need to be present when we apply for permitting?

    Also, after doing some research, my partner is thinking we should shoot for a one day permit and license. He thinks this will be easier to obtain, and we won’t have to deal with the “family license”. I’ve read this blog, and it seems that obtaining a Daily On-Sale General License may be difficult. Your thoughts?

    Warmest Regards,

    Joe

  94. says

    Julia,

    Okay, just to recap the scenario for our readers. You are a special event company organizing a private event for a for-profit corporation (“the host”). The event will be held at an unlicensed public building that is rented out for events. You want to have beer and wine available for the guests. The host pays for the entire event; the individual participants don’t pay for anything. No money changes hands at the event. You coordinate all subcontractors and vendors. You bring in wineries to conduct wine tastings, along with a beer producer and various restaurants. Your question is, what kind of license or permit is needed, if any?

    If it were just restaurants (retail licensees) participating, then one of them could apply for an Authorization to Cater, Form ABC-218, from the ABC. However, the involvement of the wineries and the beer manufacturer concerns me. Tastings conducted by wineries and beer manufacturers may only be done under certain conditions. ABC laws and regulations say, among other things, that the tastings may be conducted off the winery’s and brewery’s licensed premises, but only for an event sponsored by a non-profit organization, and only if attendees are affiliated with the non-profit sponsor. And the sponsor must obtain an ABC permit.

    In my opinion, just because this is a private event does not mean the tasting laws and regulations do not apply (See Section 23356.1 CA Business & Professions Code and Rule 53, California Code of Regulations for wineries and Section 23357.3 and -.4 and Rule 53.5 for beer manufacturers).

    Section 23355 says a licensee (whether a restaurant, winery, brewery or other) may exercise the privileges specified for that license type, and no other privileges. That means if a privilege is not specified in the law, a licensee may not exercise it. And I see no law or regulation allowing the wineries and brewery to conduct tastings in your scenario.

    Still, I would suggest contacting the local ABC District Office for the final word. You will want to keep everything safe and legal, not only for you, but for all involved. Look at what happened recently at the Los Angeles Coliseum. You would think a large place like that would do things properly. They didn’t, and now they are facing an ABC accusation. It happens all the time. I hope this helps and thanks for writing. Lauren

  95. says

    Joe,

    You’re welcome and I’m happy to help. It’s not legal to “use” someone else’s liquor license or catering permit. The person to whom it is issued must be the one who applies to the ABC for the authorization to cater, and any profits from the sale of alcohol must go to that licensed entity (whether it’s a person, partnership, corporation or whatever). As for one-day permits (i.e., Special Daily Licenses and Daily General Licenses), these are only issued to certain non-profit organizations and other groups, and not to individuals. I hope this helps. Lauren

  96. Viv says

    Hi, I am looking into having a public event in Big Bear City, San Bernandino County. It is an outdoor concert type event. We would like to sell alcohol and were told the only way we could do this is to be a non-profit and apply for the special day of liquor license or give the profit of all alcohol to a non-profit that can apply for the license. Is this the only way? Can’t I hire a bar company/catering type company that has a liquor license to handle the alcohol?

  97. Julia says

    How about this to be on the up and up. I have one of the restaurans that is attending (and has an on-sale liquor license and catering permit) pull the 218 and coordinate all wineries by buying their wine from them and selling it to us and then hiring reps from the wineries to do the pouring and talk about the wines. That way all the alcohol comes through one source. The client now wants “distilled spirits” as well which this restaurant can also provide. Do you think that would work?

  98. says

    Hello Viv,

    Yes, you could have a licensed caterer handle the alcohol. This would be a company that holds a liquor license AND a catering permit (Type 58) issued by the ABC. See my blog on street fairs and festivals for more details. Thanks for your question. Lauren

  99. Al Trevisan says

    I am an avid homebrewer and was interested in the state laws regarding serving of homebrewed beers outside of the home. I know there is a CA statue that allows this for “tastings, exhibitions, and competitions”. How does the ABC define this? Specifically can I serve my donated homebrewed beer at a private charity event(beer festival). My beer would be served into small tasting glasses. I would not be financially compensated in any way other than
    publicity.

  100. says

    Hello, Al. Thanks for your question.

    Section 23356.2 of the California Business & Professions Code, in effect since 1979, spells out what home brewers (and winemakers) can do with their product. I have quoted the relevant parts below for your review.

    “23356.2. Home winemakers and brewers. (a) No license or permit shall be required for the manufacture of beer for personal or family use, and not for sale, by a person over the age of 21 years. The aggregate amount of beer with respect to any household shall not exceed (1) 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more adults in the household, or (2) 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult in the household. . . . (c) Any beer manufactured pursuant to this section may be removed from the premises where manufactured for use in competition at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions, including homemakers’ contests, tastings, or judgings. . . . (e) Except as provided herein, nothing in this section authorizes any activity in violation of Section 23300, 23355, or 23399.1.”

    It seems clear that you may use home brew only in competition. Subsection (e) of Section 23356.2 also specifically mentions Sections 23300, 23355 and 23399.1, which are the laws addressing sales without a license, license privileges and private parties. To me, these references underscore that home brew may only be removed from the premises where manufactured for the use stated (in competition), and for no others. I worked for the ABC from 1976 to 2005 and have never seen any official policy interpretation by the ABC of this law. That usually means the law is pretty clear as written. Of course, your local ABC District Office would be the place to obtain the final word on this. Lauren

  101. Sheryl says

    Hi, I own a banquet facility that does nothing but private parties such as weddings, quinceaneras, or any special occassion or corporate event. Our place is such a hot spot that we would like to host public jazz nights that would be hosted by one of our preferred caterers we use for special events. Can that caterer and I partner up and provide food and drink (beer and wine) for that evening to the public. We plan on doing this once a week.

    Thanks…this is such a great site!

  102. says

    Hi Sheryl,

    Thanks for your question… and your compliment. The weekly beer and wine service could be problematic. A licensed caterer can only cater alcoholic beverages at any one site up to 24 times per year. Your local ABC district office may approve additional events beyond the 24 if the caterer establishes “substantial public demand.” However, I have never seen such a thing requested or approved during my 15 years working in various ABC district offices, nor in my 29 years working for the ABC. For this reason, I would run your concept by your local ABC district office. The concept as you describe it actually appears like a way around the permanent licensing process. For that reason, I have my doubts about it being feasible. I hope this helps. Lauren

  103. Frank says

    Hi:

    I own a small airline “catering” company (more like a product delivery company since no food is involved)that operates at LaGuardia Airport in NY. Basically I use my trucks and personel at LaGuardia, to deliver the airline’s own goods, to their own planes, from their own warehouse facility. Beer, wine mini bottles, and liquor minis will soon be included. I believe I need a transportation permit which I’m in the process of applying for..and maybe a warehouse permit as well, but the alcohol will be in a small enough amount to be stored only in my locked trucks, and not in the warehouse room (more secure than the warehouse anyway..also the trucks never leave the airport) so my question is, do I even need a warehouse permit? And what if the airline doesn’t have a liquor license in NY?..I’m not sure they do but assume so. Do they need a specific license for LaGuardia, or one just for the state of NY? Thanks for any advice!

  104. says

    Hi Frank,

    Each state has its own set of liquor laws and licensing procedures. My specialty lies in California. However, I do have a couple suggestions for you. There is an excellent consultant, John Springer, who can advise you on NY State liquor laws. His email is John@nybarguy.com. Or you could contact the New York State Liquor Authority directly. In the past I have spoken with one of their attorneys, Robert Buckley, who was very helpful. The number for their legal division is 518-474-3114. I believe you can reach Mr. Buckley at that number. Thanks for writing, and good luck. Lauren

  105. matt says

    My friend is applying for a liquor license but you have to be a resident of our area for one year to obtain a license in our county. he is trying to open a beer and wine store and has asked me since I am a resident of this county if I could apply for license. I wanted to know of this is legal for me to have absolutely no part in this business but still apply for a license for him and his partners business? what kind of trouble am I looking at if this was illegal?

  106. says

    Hi Matt,

    What state will the liquor license be located in? Each state has different liquor laws, but most, if not all, states will require the license to reflect the true ownership of the business. In California, an undisclosed ownership is grounds for denial or revocation of a license. In California, there is no residency requirement except for when a person applies for the annual drawing (some people call it a “lottery”) for full liquor licenses. Lauren

  107. David says

    I’d like to first thank you in advance for any advice and help you may give me to my question and also compliment you for all the help you’ve given everybody who’s posted questions. This is a stellar site and I’m very glad I found it.

    I have skimmed through the entire page and perused your site a bit but haven’t been able to locate any information about my particular question as most, if not all of the questions, pertain to a “business” type of situation. I’m almost sure there is an answer here, I just can’t seem to find it:

    There is a moderately large group of us who get together about 8 times year to socialize and have fun. Part of this includes the consumption of alcohol by some. These private parties are held at a private home and no kids (under 18) are allowed in as these parties are adult in nature. Because of the current state of the economy the homeowner/party host has decided, in order to help defray costs for food, beverages, heating of the pool and hot tubs, etc., to begin charging a $10 entrance fee. No drinks will be sold individually but they are offered as part of the entrance fee. Other than the obvious issues surrounding any alcohol consumption by minors, are there any other laws that may be getting broken or permits he needs? At no time are those who are under 21 allowed to drink and we police that absolutely, btw.

    Thank you once again for your time.

  108. David says

    I’m very sorry. I forgot to include in my question that these parties are held … somewhere in California :)

  109. says

    Hello David,

    Thanks for your question and your compliment about the site. I understand from your P.S. that your scenario takes place in California.

    An event ceases to become a “private party” (where no license is required) when alcohol is offered for sale OR when the place is open to the public OR the premises are maintained for the purpose of keeping, serving, consuming or otherwise disposing of alcoholic beverages (Section 23399.1 CA Business & Professions Code).

    “Sale” includes an entrance fee that includes alcohol.

    Section 23399.1 does not carve out any exception for private residences. Like many TEEN drinking parties, the parties in your scenario are held at a private residence. At teen drinking parties (and adult parties also), there are Fourth Amendment search and seizure issues when it comes to officers lawfully entering the premises without a warrant. In teen drinking parties, these search and seizure issues are usually discussed between law enforcement and the local prosecutor’s office prior to implementing a teen party enforcement strategy. Whether or not law enforcement could or would break up an ADULT party in your scenario would depend on the circumstances.

    However, once legally on private property, officers could potentially make arrests. Some of the laws that apply to UNDERAGE drinking parties may apply to ADULT parties as well. These include Business & Professions Code Section 23399.1, Maintaining a Place for Alcohol Consumption; Section 25351, Possession With Intent to Sell Alcohol Without a License; and Section 23300, Sale of Alcohol Without a License. If those under 21 who are “present but not drinking” are caught in possession of alcohol, there are even more laws that would apply.

    Criminal liability under these sections of law may apply to the host, or others, depending upon the situation. This means the person(s) could be arrested and charged with a crime (misdemeanor), punishable by up to a $1,000 and/or six months county jail. Once in court, the judge may also tack on court costs and enhancements.

    As far as civil liability goes (lawsuits), social hosts have immunity from “tort liability” except when they provide alcohol to an obviously intoxicated minor (Section 25602.1 Business & Professions Code). Despite this immunity, an aggrieved party could file a lawsuit should an injury or death occur as a result of over-service or over-consumption of alcohol. Whether or not the lawsuit would hold up is another matter.

    A social host of adult parties where alcohol is being sold, would be wise to discuss the matter with a qualified attorney and their homeowners’ insurance agent. The homeowner may discover there are potential risks he had not thought about. Especially with persons under age 21 being present during these parties. I hope this helps clarify things. Lauren

  110. Mary says

    i’m wanting to start a corp basket gift business. I also am putting together some combo kits that will involve small liquor bottles.. my baskets will have wine, in some cases, what kind of license do i need?

    thankyou

  111. says

    Mary,

    Your concept would require a license issued by the CA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. To sell beer or wine in gift baskets, you would need a Type 20, Off-Sale Beer & Wine license. This license is readily available for a few hundred dollars, providing you and your place of business qualify. To qualify for a retail license such as this, you would need a “brick-and-mortar” retail storefront, and comply with Rule 27 of the CA Code of Regulations. You would have to maintain inventory, and that inventory would have to be “displayed and available for convenient inspection and purchase by the general public.” Also, as a retail licensee selling to consumers, you would have to buy your beer and wine from in-state sources. Specifically, licensed wholesalers, winegrowers or beer manufacturers.

    To sell distilled spirits (liquor), even in the small bottles, you would need a Type 21, Off-Sale General license. The Type 21 licenses are very expensive ($10,000-$50,000) and are subject to the same Rule 27 requirements. This only touches on the basics. There are many other laws, rules and regulations that would apply, in addition to any local planning department (zoning) requirements. Thanks for your question. Lauren

  112. Al Trevisan says

    Hi Lauren,
    Thanks for the quick response regarding serving my homebrewed beer at charity events. Would I be right in thinking that as long as there was some sort of “competition” than it would be legal to serve my beer. Are there any ABC guidelines as to what qualifies as a competition? Thanks again…I really enjoy reading your blog. Al

  113. Rebecca says

    Hi,

    I’m helping organize an event that will be held in California, in what would be considered a public area. The event is open to the public and we are looking to hire a catering company with a Type 58 caterer’s permit/license to sell beer at the event.

    We have a pretty small budget for the event so we’d like to have our own volunteers bartend and pour the beer instead of having the catering company provide them. Is this legal? Can anyone serve the alcohol as long as a representative from the company that holds the license is present at the event?

    Thanks!

  114. says

    Hi Rebecca,

    There’s nothing illegal about your idea, but there are risks for the caterer and the volunteers. The catered event is an extension of the caterer’s permanent licensed premises (i.e., bar or restaurant) This means the caterer is responsible for any violation of the ABC Act (state liquor laws) at the catered event, just as though the violation occurred at his permanent licensed premises. Violations such as over-service and sale to a minor can result in fines, license suspension or revocation, depending upon the violation, the circumstances, and the caterer’s past record.

    Having your volunteers do the bartending/pouring would be like having volunteers step into a licensed bar or restaurant and start working. Are they trained? Do they know the liquor laws? How to check an ID? How to recognize intoxication? How to cut someone off? Their responsibilities and liabilities? A volunteer who over-serves a guest or who serves an underage guest is just as liable, criminally and civilly as a full-time bartender. I have provided training in responsible beverage service to many volunteer alcohol servers for fairs and special events. These volunteers, whether they be “Friends of the Fair” or other non-profit groups who get a one-day license, are always surprised by this fact. I have even seen them get up and walk out of the training, because they did not realize (or want) that responsibility and liability. Lauren

  115. says

    Al,

    You’re very welcome. Yes, as a home brewer, you could serve your beer at “organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions, including homemakers’ contests, tastings, or judgings.” I haven’t seen any guidelines, though, as to what qualifies as one of these events. If in doubt about whether you can serve your beer at a specific event, it’s best to run it by the local ABC District Office for guidance. Lauren

  116. Adam Wolf says

    My company is looking to have an event at a local banquet hall. Assuming it has no license, can we provide a hosted bar without getting any license?

  117. says

    Good Morning Adam,

    If your event is a private party, then no license is required. Section 23399.1 of the California Business & Professions Code defines a private party. It says that if ALL THREE of the following elements exist, then NO license is required:

    1. That there is no sale of an alcoholic beverage. [Note: “Sale” includes direct transactions such as paying for a glass of wine AND indirect transactions such as asking for donations from guests, admission charges, or charging for the food and the alcohol is included.]

    2. That the premises are not open to the general public during the time alcoholic beverages are served, consumed or otherwise disposed of.

    3. That the premises are not maintained for the purpose of keeping, serving, consuming or otherwise disposing of alcoholic beverages.

    On the other hand, if any ONE of the above applies, then it is NOT a private party and you need a license. To qualify for a Special Daily license for beer/wine, you must be a non-profit organization. To qualify for a Daily General license for beer/wine/spirits, you must be a political party/candidate, a charitable, civic, fraternal or religious organization. If you are not any of these, then you would need a licensed caterer to handle the alcohol. Lauren

  118. Justin B. says

    Hello,
    I am planning to open a business that provides In-Home Wine Tastings and Cheese Pairings at private residences. Would this type of business fall under the bartender guidelines or would I be required to obtain a catering license. I would just charge a flat fee to the host for my services and not be charging for alcohol served. However, the wine would be from my personal collection. Thanks for you time and expertise.

  119. says

    Hello Justin,

    In my opinion, your concept would not fall under the “unlicensed bartender guidelines.” In an unlicensed bartender situation, the host of the party provides the alcohol and the bartender merely is paid for his or her services and not for alcohol sales. In your concept, you are providing the alcohol and charging a flat fee that includes the alcohol; this would be considered a sale and would require a license. You’d need either a Type 58 catering permit (which requires a brick and mortar business) or an off-sale license such as a Type 20, Off-Sale Beer and Wine license (retail package store) or Type 21, Off-Sale General (retail package store/beer, wine & liquor), both of which require a brick and mortar business. Thanks for your question. Lauren

  120. Andrew says

    My question for today is: I am bartending for a wedding that is held in a private location.

    The bride party has asked if I can come and provide only the service of serving drinks during the event. I am in no way of buying alcohol or providing alcohol, the bride party is in charge of that. The location will be indoors as well.

    Will I need a license? The bride party does not have a license as well. Please advise

  121. Ernie says

    Hello,
    I would like to open a wine bar/retail shop in Long Beach, Ca. I was wondering what type of license I’d need, and the cost. I’d like to pour wines by the glass, and also sell wine by the bottle, as well as wine-related merchandise. I will serve non-cooked foods, such as charcuterie and cheeses. Thanks in advance.

  122. says

    Ernie,

    You will need two licenses for your concept, an On-Sale Beer & Wine license (Type 42) for the tasting area and a Type 20, Off-Sale Beer & Wine license, for the retail area. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control will require you to cordon off the tasting area with some type of fixed barrier. Since you don’t plan to serve meals, you will have to keep persons under age 21 out of your tasting area. The Type 42 costs $561 the first year and $261 annually thereafter. The Type 20 costs $354 the first year and $254 annually thereafter. Fingerprint fees are $63 per person for each owner. If the city planning department requires a conditional use permit, that will also cost you. Check with the city first before you do anything. I hope this helps. Lauren

  123. Elena Wright says

    Lauren,
    Hello, I am the “mother of the groom” and we are planning a rehearsal dinner at a church hall in WA state. I am having the dinner catered by a well-established catering company. The caterer said that we need to get a $10 permit if we want beer at the dinner. The bride’s parents said they have a friend who works for a distributing company and can get us free beer,therefore we do not need a permit. What say you? do we need a permit? And what if my husband and I also buy some sparkling wine at Costco and put it on the tables for toasting? And what if the teenagers want to “have a little”?
    Please help.
    Elena

  124. says

    Elena,

    The Washington State Liquor Control Board issues a “Banquet Permit” for events such as yours. In California, and my guess in most states, anyone with a license (e.g, a retailer OR a distributor) may NOT give away free alcoholic beverages. So I would skip the idea posed by the bride’s parents. I would take the advice of your catering company and contact the Liquor Control Board about a banquet permit. For everyone’s protection, make sure anyone under age 21 does not even have a sip of alcohol. It’s illegal and can lead to serious consequences. Good luck. Lauren

  125. John says

    Hi,
    I just wanted to know if a convenient store would be shut down for good if found selling beer without a licence in Massachusetts? If so, who do I report this to?

    Thanks

  126. says

    John,

    It’s hard to say what the consequences would be. It would depend upon a lot of different factors. But you should report the sale without a license to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, 239 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02114. Their Investigative and Enforcement Division phone number is (617) 727-3040. They have an online complaint form that you can fill out and submit online or you could call them. Good luck and thanks for your post. Lauren

  127. Christopher says

    Spectacular blog.
    I have a question about a type 47 license in California. We bought a restaurant joined to a bar over 6 years ago, under the pretense of serving brunch and lunch only. The bar is the owner of the type 47 license, we serve food in our space as well as theirs. The bar is under new management as of this month. The new management is demanding that we stay open for dinner 5 days a week until 9 as to for fill their ABC license criteria, and insisted we are to be finger printed and added to their type 47 license. My questions is, what are the guidelines here? Does the restaurant have to be open the same times as the bar? We are primarily morning/afternoon they are mid-day to 2am. Would there be any fines for either party if the we did not stay open late? What is the reasoning behind adding us to their license? I would really like to understand what of this new push is coming from ABC and what is coming from the new management.
    Thank you very much for your time and help.
    Thank you,
    Christopher

  128. Christopher says

    Lauren,
    One more thing, we do not serve alcohol in the restaurant. The customers can purchase alcohol in the bar and bring it in to the restaurant to consume if they choose.
    I’m afraid that we were a bit to trusting when we bought, and didn’t do enough research of what we were getting into.
    Thank you ,
    Chritopher

  129. says

    Christopher,

    From what you describe, I see compliance issues with the current ownership/management arrangement, both as to food service and as to the ownership situation.

    As I understand it, there is a restaurant and a bar in one “footprint” or one address. You “bought” the restaurant, but someone else owns the bar section and the Type 47 license that covers both the restaurant and bar area. This is not legal. If you have an ownership interest in this combined restaurant/bar business, then you must be named on the license (get fingerprinted, etc.)

    The California Business & Professions Code (ABC Act) requires the license to reflect the true ownership of the licensed business. There can be no “hidden owners.”

    It is not legal to run two businesses under one license or to “use” someone else’s license. Now, if you were leasing the kitchen from the licensee, that is acceptable. However, you would still have to be qualified (fingerprinted and investigated) by the ABC.

    From what you describe (even with your P.S.), the Type 47 license covers the restaurant AND bar. It is one “licensed premises.” Sections 23038 and 23396 of the CA Business & Professions Code require a Type 47 licensee to operate and maintain the premises as a “bona fide eating place.” He must make actual and substantial sales of meals during the normal meals hours he is open, at least five days a week. Normal meal hours are 6-9 am (breakfast); 11 am-2 pm (lunch) and 6-9 pm (dinner). Restaurants that aren’t open 5 days a week must serve meals on the days they are open.

    The bar is part of the licensed business. So, if the bar is open during the normal dinner hours of 6-9 pm, then meals must be served during that time, at least five days a week.

    The potential risk of either an undisclosed ownership or non-compliance with the food service requirement is administrative action by the ABC against the license. This could result in a fine, suspension or revocation of the liquor license. What the new management is telling you is correct. Thank you for your question and I hope things work out. Lauren

  130. Christopher says

    Lauren,
    Thank you for your response. You have helped to make the situation more clear.
    Thank you,
    Christopher

  131. Erika says

    I live in Georgia, and want to make a complaint against a restuarant that has all of its employees selling liqour/alcohol without permits. Can I still fill out the complaint form that you posted from the Department of alcoholic beverage control, even though it says from the state of california???

  132. says

    Hello Erika,

    You could use the form, if you like. The main thing is getting the information to the Georgia Department of Revenue, Alcohol & Tobacco Tax Division, who handles those issues in your state. Call, mail or email your complaint to their Headquarters at:

    GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE – HEADQUARTERS
    ALCOHOL & TOBACCO DIVISION
    1800 Century Center Blvd., N.E., Room 4235
    Atlanta, GA 30345-3205
    PHONE: (404) 417-4900 or 417-4870
    FAX: (404) 417-4901
    E-MAIL: atdiv@dor.ga.gov

    Thanks for your question. Lauren

  133. Al Trevisan says

    Hi Lauren,
    As you may recall I am an avid homebrewer. I was looking for the Federal and CA statutes regarding homebrewing. Both state that beer may be removed for exhibition, tasting, and competition. Would this allow me to have an organized tasting at a private residence(other than my own). Of course the beer would be completely free….no admission fee, tip jar, or be compensated for the beer in any shape or form. I enjoy sharing my beer with others in a responsible, private setting. I also have a small clothing business where I sell shirts and hats. Would I be violating any laws by having shirts and hats for sale at a homebrewers tasting party? Of course no one is obligated to buy any of my clothing. Thanks again. Al

  134. says

    Hello again, Al, and thanks for your question.

    Just to recap what the law allows. Sec. 23356.2 of the CA Business & Professions Code allows a person age 21+ to brew, for personal or family use, up to 100 gallons of beer per calendar year, or up to 200 gallons if there are two or more adults in the household. Same thing applies to wine. And, as you said, the beer may be removed for use in competition at organized affairs, exhibitions, or competitions, including homemakers’ contests, tastings, or judgings.

    This law actually allows you, as a homebrewer, to conduct a “brew or ferment yourself” activity, provided you don’t sell the beer (all the above rules would apply). As you may know, the “brew or ferment yourself” thing is where attendees are given the materials to brew their own beer. It seems the “brew or ferment yourself” concept goes even farther than what you are planning. Yet, I do have concerns that the sale of clothing, connected with the tastings, might take your concept out of the realm of “personal or family use” and into more of a commercial venture. To be safe, I really think you should contact ABC directly about this. Lauren

  135. Al Trevisan says

    Hi Lauren,
    I am not sure that it matters but I probably should have been a little more specific. The shirts and hats that I would be selling have my “homebrew” logo on it.

  136. says

    Al,

    After additional thought, I really think you should contact ABC directly about your idea. If you contact a lawyer about this, they will have to do the same thing, so you might as well save money and go directly to the source. Put your concept in writing and get a written response from ABC. I have edited my prior response accordingly. Lauren

  137. Al Trevisan says

    Thank you Lauren,
    I have contacted my local ABC office and am awaiting a reply. I work in local government and I know all too often that the response you get regarding code interpretation can vary based on who you talk to. I was even thinking about contacting various ABC offices to see how they each interpret my question. Thanks again for all of your help.

  138. says

    That’s true. However, I don’t think the local office would tackle this question themselves. They will usually consult the HQs for something this technical that involves trade practices.

  139. Al Trevisan says

    Lauren,
    I have sent an email to my local ABC. Would it be better to draft a formal letter and mail it? I hope I am not opening a “can of worms” here. I am a law abiding citizen and want to follow all the rules but…. Sometimes maybe it is better to beg forgiveness rather than ask permission.

  140. says

    Al, I think an email is fine. It is considered official communication. However, depending upon the ABC office, they may have workload issues. So follow up regularly until you hear back. If you don’t get a response in a reasonable period of time, at least acknowledging your email (2-3 days), then I would fax a letter to ABC HQ, attn. Trade Practices, Fax #916-568-5064.

  141. glenn says

    I was part of a charity event that served wine. This was paid up front. At the end of the event, we had three cases left over. This was then given to me – a nice gesture – but we do not drink much. Can I just sell these at cost and give the money back to the charity? All the licenses cost much more than the wine is worth.

  142. says

    Hi Glenn,

    The organization who was licensed to sell wine in the first place cannot give it away, even though it was leftover. It may, however, return it to the original seller (this is authorized by Section 23104.1(g) of the CA Business & Professions Code). Now that you possess the wine, you can’t sell it without a license, and there is no license available to you for that purpose. Thanks for your question. Lauren

  143. Matthew says

    Hello,

    I am beginning a long term lease on a theater in the Hollywood area. We are not currently classified as non-profit and plan to offer a variety of entertainment… live theater productions, comedy and music. Though the theater has a separate entrance, it is part of a complex with a number of performance spaces in it. Is it possible to get a license for just our space without involving others in the same theater complex and what type of license and initial expense would we be facing to obtain a license for beer and wine?

    Thank you for the very informative blog and your time.

    Matthew

  144. says

    Matthew,

    The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) can license a building or a portion of a building. Existence of other tenants in the complex is not an issue as long as you are able to control activities within your space, and it is separated physically (wall, barrier, etc.) from the other spaces.

    Since you are NOT a non-profit, the licenses available to you for beer and wine sales are (1) Type 41 – On-Sale Beer & Wine Eating Place, and (2) Type 42 – On-Sale Beer and Wine Public Premises. The Type 41 requires you to prepare and serve meals, and persons under 21 may be on the premises. The Type 42 has no food requirement, but persons under 21 are NOT allowed in. Both licenses cost $650 initially, with an annual renewal fee of $350. Fingerprinting is $63 per person (each owner/partner). The ABC’s waiting time is about 90 days or longer.

    However, the ABC can’t issue you a license unless you have local zoning approval. Before you even apply for the ABC license, you should check with the city about whether you are zoned properly for the sale of alcohol AND whether a conditional use permit (CUP) is needed. In most cases a CUP is required for alcohol sales. CUPs can be costly ($5K-$10K or more) and time consuming. Your first stop would be the Los Angeles City Planning Department to ask about zoning and CUPs. And when you sign the lease, make sure the lease is contingent upon ABC and city approvals. Thanks and I hope this helps. Lauren

  145. Matthew says

    Thank you, Lauren! Your blog is really an excellent resource. An attorney friend of mine wanted me to commend you highly on your content and clarity!

    Thanks so much.

  146. Scott says

    I have a type 47 and 58 license in CA. My restaurant is a full service dinner house. Under a type 47 it is my understanding we have authorization to sell beer and wine for consumption off the licensed premises. I am starting a delivery service and was wondering if the 47 and/or 58 allows me to deliver beer and wine. If so, are there any restrictions relating to delivery?, if not, what license do I need?

  147. says

    Scott,

    Yes, the law permits a Type 47 licensee to sell beer and wine “to go,” in the original sealed containers (Section 23401 of the CA Business & Professions Code). Another law says the “sale” of an alcoholic beverage includes “delivery” (Section 23025).

    The exception to your license allowing you to deliver would be if the ABC or the city/county has imposed a condition (operating restriction) on your license against “to-go” sales. Other requirements and tips:

    -No sales to underage or obviously intoxicated persons, no sales between 2 am and 6 am of the same day (Sections 25658(a), 25602(a) and 25631)
    -Your delivery person should check ID of the recipient if he or she appears under age 30
    -You must keep records of all sales and deliveries at your licensed premises for three years (Section 25752)
    -Delivery must be accompanied by a delivery order stating quantity, brand, % alcohol, price, name/address of the consumer, and name and address of your business.
    -Keep delivery orders for two years after date of delivery (Rule 17e CCR)
    -All deliveries must be made from your licensed premises
    -Delivery persons may be 18 years old (Section 25662a); however, it may be prudent to ensure they are 21 or older
    -You may not label, bottle, package or refill any package with any alcoholic beverage (Section 23401)

    Thanks for your question. Lauren

  148. Brandon says

    Hello,

    I have a coworking space, in which a number of people share a work space with one another.

    We are playing with the idea of offering beer/wine for sale to our residents and their guests only. Would we qualify for a club license? An on-sale license fee would prohibitive.

    Thank you for your time.

    Brandon

  149. Scott says

    Thank you so much, One more question if you will. Does a restaurant have to allow numerous local police walk-trough’s or is it private property and we can tell them no?

    I understand ABC can do this at anytime but the local police have been getting into the habit of multiple random walk-though looking for probation violators etc.

    Our license, is in good standing, to my knowledge there are no complaints about our establishment from customers, neighbors etc. We call them for police business around once a year at best. They do the walk-through, we lose half our customers. Thank you for any help.

  150. says

    Hi Brandon,

    The first question is, do you need a license. Since you will be selling beer and wine, the answer is yes. However, sometimes licenses aren’t available for the concept that people have in mind.

    The CA Business & Professions code, Sections 23425 through 23438, specifies the club licenses that are available. The only one that comes close to your situation is a nonprofit social club, mentioned in Section 23428.9. It reads:

    Ҥ 23428.9. Nonprofit social club
    For the purpose of this article “club” also means any
    nonprofit social club which serves daily meals to its
    members and guests, owns or leases, operates and
    maintains a club room or rooms for its membership and
    has operated the club room or rooms for a period of not
    less than two years and has regular membership dues
    of not less than fifty dollars ($50) per year per member.”

    Section 23434 requires that clubs be nonprofit organizations. Thanks for your question. Lauren
    P.S. Depending upon your plans, you may want to consider having a licensed caterer handle the alcohol for special events.

  151. says

    Scott,

    Yes, a licensed restaurant must allow free access to both ABC investigators and other sworn law enforcement officers. Officers have the legal right to visit and inspect any licensed premises at any time that the licensee is exercising his license privileges. And something most people don’t know, the officers don’t need a search warrant or probable cause. They can inspect, without a warrant, the bar and back bar, office, store room, kitchen, office, closed or locked cabinets, safes, and any other part of the “licensed premises.” You definitely cannot tell them no. By the way, local police are also required by law to enforce state liquor laws. It is a shared responsibility between the ABC and local law enforcement. Consider turning it into a positive by posting a sign for your customers to explain this. Something like, “For everyone’s safety, ABC and local police conduct walk-throughs, as permitted by law. (Section 25755 Bus. & Prof. Code)” or words to that effect. Thanks for your question. Lauren

  152. Haruka says

    Hello,

    I would like to know if someone is able to get a liquor license if they are under 21? And the things that they are limited to. Example: Serving only, or restocking only, etc etc…

    Thank you,

    Haruka

  153. says

    Hello Haruka,

    Do you mean a liquor license, issued to the owner of the business, or do you mean a service permit issued to the servers? They are two different things. If you are asking about a liquor license, Oregon Administrative Rules, Division 5, says that generally a licensee (owner) must be at least 21 years old. However, there may be an exception if “the minor applicant will not participate in the management or control of alcohol-related business decisions or of employees involved in alcoholic beverage sale or service.”

    A service permit, on the other hand, is required by “. . . Any person who mixes, sells or serves alcoholic beverages for consumption on licensed premises; . . .”
    The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, in its FAQ’s on Service Permits, states, “If you are 18, 19, or 20 years old, you can get a minor service permit. With a minor service permit, you may serve, pour, and draw alcoholic beverages only in areas of the business not prohibited to minors where alcohol service is secondary to food service. You may not mix drinks nor work as a bartender or cocktail server. You may enter and remain in areas prohibited to minors (such as a bar or lounge) only long enough to perform work-related duties such as:
    • Ordering and picking up drinks for service in areas not prohibited to minors (such as a dining room),
    • Clearing tables,
    • Stocking supplies, and
    • Delivering food.
    On your 21st birthday, these restrictions will no longer apply.”
    You can read more about Oregon service permits here:
    http://oregon.gov/OLCC/service_permit_faqs.shtml

    Thank you for your question. Lauren

  154. David says

    Hello,

    Would you be so kind as to explain the uses permitted under License Code 68 – “Portable Bar” and any other helpful information regarding acquiring it?

    Thanks so much!
    David

  155. mike w says

    I would like to know how to hold a fundraiser that sells alcoholic beverages and may have some dancing in Los Angeles CA. I would like to make sure no laws are broken and we can continue to have fundraisers as needed(max4 a year)? What do I need to be legit? I know I can apply for a temp permit with a non-profit.. can the nonprofit be brand new or does it need to be 5 years old? Can I sell tickets or is there any other way to go about this without spending a lot of money on a multitude of permits and inspections from city. Thank you for your time. This website has been very helpful and I posted on my facebook as well.

  156. says

    Mike,

    Thanks for your question and for sharing my blog on Facebook!

    A fundraiser that sells alcoholic beverage would definitely require a license or permit. As a representative of a nonprofit organization, you could obtain a Special Daily license to sell beer and/or wine. Depending upon the type of organization you are, you may also qualify for a Daily General license to sell beer, wine AND spirits. In either case, the law does not say how old the organization must be other than it must be an “existing” organization. Brand new is OK as long as you can prove existence to the ABC. (You could also have an existing licensed caterer handle the alcohol.) Yes, you can sell tickets to the event.

    There are a number of alcohol-related laws, rules and regulations dealing with licensing and compliance for special events. They are contained in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (“ABC Act”), which is Division 9 of the California Business and Professions Code, and in the California Code of Regulations. A few major concerns are:

    (1) The name on the license/permit reflects the organization that will profit from the sale of alcohol, and no one else.

    (2) Relationships between the licensed non-profit organization, alcohol wholesalers and alcohol suppliers don’t violate any “tied house” laws. For example, while winegrowers and beer manufacturers may pour wine and/or beer samples at festivals, members of the non-profit organization must be present as well. There are also restrictions on alcohol supplier participation in sponsorships and advertising.

    (3) Adequate controls exist to protect public health, safety and welfare. For example, servers should be age 21 or older and receive responsible beverage service training from a state-certified program. Many servers at special events are volunteers, and don’t realize they have the same responsibilities and liability as a full-time bartender.
    ABC also may impose conditions (restrictions) on sales in some cases. If the event is outdoors, sales and service of alcohol must be confined to a defined area.

    There’s really no way around dealing with city permits and fees. For example, before issuing a Special Daily license or Daily General license, the ABC requires approval and sign-off from the local law enforcement agency. Also, the city may have other requirements. So, you should discuss these things with the appropriate city department:

    *Americans With Disabilities – An event open to the public may be subject to the American’s With Disabilities Act to ensure access and enjoyment of the event by all guests.

    *Amplified Sound – Your event may be subject to noise abatement laws.

    *Emergency Medical Plan – This may be required for larger events.

    *Fire Code Permit – This may be required to ensure compliance with the California Fire Code where there are tents, canopies, temporary structures, open burning or fireworks.

    *Food and Concessions – If you plan to sell food products at your event, it may require special clearances such as a valid city business license and health permit. Any sales may also require a Seller’s Permit from the State of California, Board of Equalization.

    *Insurance – Requirements for special public events vary, depending upon the location and risk level of the event. In some cities, events held on city property require the sponsor to provide at least $1 million liability insurance for the special event. The sponsor may also have to obtain liquor liability insurance.

    *Sanitation and Recycling – You may need a plan for cleanup and removal of all waste, garbage, refuse and recyclable goods during and after your event.

    *Security/Safety – Your local law enforcement agency will determine security requirements based on the size and nature of your event.

    *Signage – There may be city requirements related to size of signs, timelines for removal, features for persons with disabilities, etc.

    In summary, there is a lot of planning involved to keep your event safe and legal. I hope this helps. Lauren

  157. says

    George,

    If you have an on-sale beer and wine license (for a restaurant or a bar), it is legal for the public to bring in their own beer or wine, but it’s not a good policy. Why? It is too difficult to monitor how much alcohol they have consumed or where else the alcohol might be going; e.g., to other patrons who may have had too much or who are underage. As for liquor (distilled spirits), it is not legal for the public to bring their own liquor onto a beer and wine licensed premises. For the licensee, employee or patron, the penalty could be up to a $1,000 fine and/or 6 months in county jail. In addition, your beer and wine license could be suspended or revoked. Thank you for your question. Lauren

  158. Christopher says

    Hi Lauren,
    My wife and I are interested in moving our restaurant of 11 years. In doing so we are looking at a restaurant that is for sell, in a different location. There is a type 41 beer and wine liquor license already at that prospective new location. It has been closed for 2 weeks. When we move in we would like to change the name and take over the liquor license. I was wondering (before we move forward in negotiations):
    A. if this is possible?
    B. how much it will cost?
    C. how do we start the process?
    Our restaurant does not currently have a liquor license.
    Thank you very much for your time, I look forward to getting your advise.
    Thank you,
    Christopher

  159. Jeff says

    I had a quick question about a change of “company officer information”. If you add a new officer to your license do you have to post that change?
    Thanks,
    Jeff

  160. says

    Hi Jeff,

    Any licensee –whether it be a general partnership, corporation, limited partnership, or limited liability company–who undergoes an ownership change,should report that change to their ABC district office.

    The ABC’s requirements differ depending upon the type of change (i.e., change in officers, partners, transfer of stock, etc.). ABC may require the licensee to file an application to actually transfer the license (which involves posting the premises, publishing in the newspaper, etc.) or ABC may just require a simpler process. In any event, Rule 68.5 of the California Code of Regulations allows licensees 30 days to notify ABC of any ownership change and an extra 30 days for the new person/officer to appear at the ABC to be qualified.

    In your case, a change in officer, you should do the following: Write to the ABC district office and include with your letter (a) a completed/signed Form ABC-243, Corporate Questionnaire reflecting current information, (b) a completed Form ABC-208-A/B, Individual Personal Affidavit filled out and signed by the new officer, and (c) a copy of your Corporate Minutes reflecting the election of the new officer. Upon payment of Live Scan (electronic fingerprinting) fees to ABC ($63 per person), they will provide you with a Live Scan form that the new officer will take to a Live Scan center to be fingerprinted. From there, the matter will be assigned to an ABC rep who will investigate the qualifications of the new person. Be aware of any notary requirements on the ABC forms. You can find the forms on ABC’s website. I hope this helps and thanks for your question. Lauren

  161. says

    Hi Christopher,

    It is feasible to purchase an existing restaurant and its beer and wine license, even if it has been closed. And of course, change the name.

    The ABC fees are minimal for the transfer of a beer and wine license. A person-to-person transfer is $150 plus renewal fees of $350 each for seller and buyer. Other costs may include a purchase price for the beer and wine license itself, furniture/fixtures, inventory, goodwill/non-compete covenant, leasehold and/or improvements, fees for other licenses, permits and deposits, working capital and realty or interest.

    A Type 41, On-Sale Beer & Wine, license does not have the same value as a Type 47, On-Sale General (full liquor) license, which can run in the tens of thousands. However, it does have some value because it is much easier for you to transfer the seller’s existing Type 41 license to you than for you to get your own new Type 41 license at your new location. A new Type 41 license includes much more red tape. So in that sense, there is some value to the seller’s Type 41 license, to be negotiated.

    Other fees may include broker fees (vary), escrow and processing fees (est. $1,250), overnight fees (est. $40), record, certify and process fees (est. $350), notary fees (vary) and newspaper publication fees (est. $150).

    To get started, you may want to contact a business opportunity broker. Then open escrow and place ALL funds into escrow, whether it be cash, checks, or promissory notes. No monies can be paid outside of escrow.

    You will have to record a Notice of Intended Transfer, Form ABC-227, with the County Recorder in which the business is located. You can obtain a blank Form ABC-227 on ABC’s website, but sometimes escrow will handle this for you.

    The seller must “sign off” on ABC Form-211-A (again, escrow may handle this). Then you must fill out all the required ABC forms (all on ABC’s website). Once your forms are filled out, call ABC for an appointment to file your application to transfer the license or file your application by mail.

    Once ABC receives your application forms and fees, they will provide you with a notice to post on the new building, a notice to publish in the newspaper and other documents. They then assign the case to an ABC rep for investigation. Escrow cannot close until ABC completes its investigation and approves the license transfer. That’s it in a nutshell. There are more details, but these are the basics. Thank you for writing and good luck with everything. Lauren

  162. says

    Hi,
    Im in a rush to find out these regulations for a party on the 10th. It is in a space that belongs to a non-profit org and it is a private party. Is there any fast banquet or special event permit I could get or can I get around the permit if I don’t charge for the booze and charge a cover instead? Or can I allow friends to byob?
    Thanks!

  163. says

    Hi Jen,

    The law that applies in your case is Section 23399.1 of the California Business & Professions Code. This law discusses when a license or permit is required. It reads, in pertinent part:

    “No license or permit shall be required for the serving or otherwise disposing of alcoholic beverages where all of the following conditions prevail:
    1. That there is no sale of an alcoholic beverage
    2. That the premises are not open to the general public during the time alcoholic beverages are served, consumed or otherwise disposed of
    3. That the premises are not maintained for the purpose of keeping, serving, consuming or otherwise disposing of alcoholic beverages
    [Emphasis added.]

    I assume the space is not licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. If it is, this complicates things.

    If the space is not licensed, then your idea is feasible. However, if you charge a “cover,” accept donations, sell tickets, or otherwise exchange any money or other thing of value for the alcohol, that’s a “sale,” and a license or permit is required. However, as an individual ABC could not issue you a license or permit for an event. The only legal way to have your private party is BYOB or have the alcohol catered by a licensed caterer.

    Also, for a safe event, don’t serve anyone who looks or acts drunk or under 21. Check IDs. Have plenty of high-protein food or snacks available to slow intoxication. Have non-alcoholic beverages available. If someone does become intoxicated, ensure a safe ride home. Many cities (especially in San Diego County) have adopted social host ordinances to help reduce problems linked to underage drinking. Anyone who hosts a party where minors are consuming alcohol may be cited/arrested, fined up to $1,000, jailed for up to six months and billed for police services. Not fun.

    In summary, I hope your event turns out great and is problem-free. Lauren

  164. says

    Thank you so much for the information, Lauren. I understand that for the private party BYOB is the only feasible way, but now I’m concerned about the law concerning the type of space it is. It used to be a Tony Roma’s and is now a music performace and practice space. Does the fact that it was a building in the hands of the Port/City and it was donated to this non-profit org change the circumstances? Or the fact that it used to serve liquor in the past? Thanks again! Jen

  165. Andrew Bernier says

    Hello,

    Is there a way to obtain a daily on-sale general license in California without filing under a qualified non-profit organization? Thanks in advance for your expertise & advice.

    Thanks,
    Andrew

  166. says

    Hi Andrew,

    The qualifications for a daily on-sale general license (beer/wine & spirits) are a little different than for a special daily beer/wine license. A daily on-sale general license may only be issued to:
    (1) a political party or affiliate supporting a candidate for public office or a ballot measure
    (2) an organization formed for a specific charitable or civic purpose
    (3) a fraternal organization in existence for over 5 years with a regular membership
    (4) a religious organization

    Thank you for your question. I hope this helps. Lauren

  167. Norma Rivera says

    Hello,
    I host private parties at a hall…I dont have a liquour license… so I do not sell the liqour or serve it or nothing…But i always let the people (private party people) know they can bring in their own alcohol, but they are responsible to serve it and to whom the serve it… is this legal?

  168. Sarah says

    Does the state require a day permit if you host a private party, charge admission before hand and then serve alcohol on the premises, not sell it directly?

  169. says

    Sarah,

    Yes. If there is any money involved, such as admission or otherwise, that is considered a “sale,” the event does not meet the legal definition of a private party, and a permit is required. Lauren

  170. jeff silva says

    Hi Lauren: Does California require an ABC license to sell non-alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic wine in a “deli/cafe” food service facility. I’m hearing conflicting opinions and hoped you could clarify for me. Thanks for your time – Jeff.

  171. says

    Jeff,
    No license is required unless the product meets the legal definition of an alcoholic beverage. According to B&P Code Sec. 23004, “‘Alcoholic beverage’ includes alcohol, spirits, liquor, wine, beer, and every liquid or solid containing alcohol, spirits, wine, or beer, and which contains one-half of 1 percent or more of alcohol by volume and which is fit for beverage purposes either alone or when diluted, mixed, or combined with other substances.”

    So, anything with less than 0.5% alcohol does not require an ABC license to sell. This includes, but is not limited to, brews such as O’Doul’s, Sharp’s, St. Pauli NA, and fermented beverages such as Ariel de-alcoholized wines.

    It’s my understanding that some states do not allow these non-alcoholic beverages to be sold to people under age 21 (minors). That’s not the case, in California. However, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control recommends that licensed establishments NOT sell these non-alcoholic beverages to minors because they look and smell like the real thing. Therefore, there can be a public or law enforcement officer perception that the place is selling alcohol to underage people. Also, be aware that individual cities and counties might enact stricter local ordinances than what state law says. For example, they might have a local ordinance that prohibits selling non-alcoholic beverages to minors. So, if I were you, I would check on that before you set your company policy on the issue of whether you will sell these items to under 21′s. I hope this helps!

  172. jeff silva says

    Hi Lauren: Thank you for your response to my question (#186). You know, I’m kind of amazed by the consultation service you offer through your blog – and free of charge, no less! It’s encouraging to be able to get straight answers to straight questions without having to wait in a line, on hold, or fill out a form. And from someone with your background, knowledge, and experience,I’m even more surprised that you make this available. Thanks again – Jeff.

  173. QE says

    Hi,

    I was having a private event (gallery showing) for members of my private club. We were not selling anything, charging admissions, asking for donations or even charging membership fees. I was cited for serving alcohol without a permit because there was one box of wine on our beverage table (which did not have a bartender or anything formal) and the door to the gallery was left open.

    Is there any way to get out of this completely or at least argue to try to get my fine reduced when I appear in court?

    Thanks

  174. says

    Hello QE,

    Ouch. Though I can’t give legal advice of what you should do, here is some information to read. Excerpts from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (Business & Professions Code, Division 9). Read them through and remember: for a citation to hold up in Court, all the elements of the crime must exist.
    Assuming you were cited for B&P Sec. 23300, the crime in question is Selling Alcohol Without a License– not Serving Alcohol Without a License.

    § 23300. Necessity for license. No person shall exercise the privilege or perform any
    act which a licensee may exercise or perform under the authority of a license unless the person is authorized to do so by a license issued pursuant to this division.

    Attorney General’s Opinion:

    Operator of commercial enterprise who offers and provides complimentary alcoholic beverages to any interested adult guest, customer or passenger of the business or service while at the same time charging for product provided or service rendered will be deemed to have “sold” alcoholic beverages, thereby necessitating alcoholic beverage license. (1985) 68 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 263.

    § 23301. Penalty for operation without license. Any person violating Section 23300 is guilty of a misdemeanor, except that any person, without having a still license, exercising the privileges or performing any act which a still licensee may exercise or perform is guilty of a felony.

    In a prosecution for selling alcoholic beverages without a license (B & P C, § 23300) the trial court correctly ruled, and instructed the jury, that the statute defined a strict liability, malum prohibitum offense wherein neither guilty knowledge nor intent need be shown, and that a good faith belief that one has a legal right to sell alcoholic beverages
    is not a legal defense to violations alleged if one, in fact, has no then valid license to sell alcoholic beverages. People v. Guinn (1983, Cal App Dep’t Super Ct) 149 Cal App 3d Supp 1, 196 Cal Rptr 696, 1983 Cal App LEXIS 2471.

    § 23025. “Sell”; “Sale”; “To sell”. “Sell” or “sale” and “to sell” includes any transaction
    whereby, for any consideration, title to alcoholic beverages is transferred from one person to another, and
    includes the delivery of alcoholic beverages
    pursuant to an order placed for the purchase of such beverages and soliciting or receiving an order for such beverages, but does not include the return of alcoholic beverages by a licensee to the licensee from whom such beverages were purchased.

  175. Mary says

    Hi, we are thinking to rent out our big house to private events. We don’t have a liquor license and we will charge a flate fee on the event. The private event will serve alcohol to their invited only guests and their will be no minors allowed to the event.
    Can we offer alcohol without license as follows:
    1 Have the client purchase liquor for the event via a completely independent transaction and our staff serve ?
    2 We hire a catering company that has a license and have them serve the liquor and we provide food catering?

  176. says

    Mary,
    When there is an entry fee that includes the alcohol, then that is considered a “sale” even though an event is “private.” Therefore, scenario #1 is not a good choice. Scenario #2 is the only way to keep this legal, but the catering company must sell the liquor, not just serve it. All the profits from the alcohol must go to the catering company.
    Lauren

  177. nasim says

    Hi I encountered with California abc department many times, they bunch of thugs coming after small businesses,, please don’t tell me the other ways,,, therefore no one wants to own a liquor store in this state,,, they are not a peace police officer bunch of losers who don’t even follow the abc laws,,,, just make their own,,, they are tricky and know NO law book,,, ask me the truth please publish this I am writing to you,,,, thanks a lot

  178. Al Trevisan says

    Hi Lauren,
    I am intrigued by the idea of a “mobile tap room” that is currently operating in the Bay Area. Apparently it is being run as a commercial charter bus/limousine service. You pay to ride the bus but the alchohol is complimentary. I have heard that there is a loophole in the law so that charter buses/limos are not subject to ABC regulations as far as obtaining permits/licenses. The charter bus company falls under the Public Utilities Commission guidelines. This is along the same lines as renting a limo and receiving free champagne on ice. I know recently that hot air ballon operators were granted an exemption from ABC laws so that they can serve alcohol with out a permit. Can you shed some light on the legalities of this?

  179. says

    Hi again Al,

    I have not heard the term, “mobile tap room.” It’s one heck of a description for marketing purposes, but it is kind of a red flag, too, signaling that the focus of the concept is drinking and not transportation. You’re correct that limousines and hot air balloon rides are exempt from licensing. However, charter busses are not specifically exempt. The California Public Utilities Code Section 5371.4(i) defines limousine as a motor vehicle carrying up to 10 passengers, including the driver. Section 5363(b) of the same code defines a charter bus as a motor vehicle carrying more than 10 passengers, including the driver. So, if the “mobile tap room” is a charter bus, the company could be at risk for violating the law.

    CA Business & Professions Code reads:

    “23399.5. Service of alcoholic beverages in limousine or hot air balloon. Limousine, hot air balloon ride services serving alcoholic beverages. (a) No license or permit is required for the serving of alcoholic beverages in a limousine by any person operating a limousine service regulated by the Public Utilities Commission; provided there is no extra charge or fee for the alcoholic beverages.
    For purposes of this subdivision, there is no extra charge or fee for the alcoholic beverages when the fee charged for the limousine service is the same regardless of whether alcoholic beverages are served.
    (b) No license or permit is required for the serving of alcoholic beverages as part of a hot air balloon ride service, provided there is no extra charge or fee for the alcoholic beverages.
    For purposes of this subdivision, there is no extra charge or fee for the alcoholic beverages when the fee charged for the hot air balloon ride service is the same regardless of whether alcoholic beverages are served.

    By the way, Section 23399.5 was added by 1986 statutes. It was amended in 1998 to include hot air balloon ride services.

    Thanks for your question. Lauren

  180. Adam says

    Hi Lauren,

    Man, am I glad I came across your blog! Very interesting and useful information. Even as an attorney, I find the alcohol regulations very complicated.

    I am planning my wedding reception and one of the venues we are looking at currently holds a Type 23 ABC license. The venue may be getting a different license in the near future but, assuming that they don’t
    have the license necessary to serve spirits and allow us to bring in our own caterer for this purpose, is it possible to hire a catering company (I’m assuming a Type 58 license) to serve alcohol(beer/wine/spirits) at a licensed venue owned by another licensed entity?

    Also, I have tried the “Ad Hoc” report to find Type 58 licensed business in my area and the ABC website is not coming up with any results. I have tried numerous cities with the same result. I am hoping that this is an error with the ABC website, and not a reflection of how few Type 58 licensed business are out there.

    Thanks,

    Adam

  181. says

    Hi Adam,

    A business that is licensed only to sell beer can only have beer on the premises. No wine or spirits are allowed under any circumstances. This is a correction to my previous, erroneous response. Lauren

  182. Trisha says

    Hello,
    I am curious about something. Someone I know is making, bottling and selling a homemade Kahlua recipe in CA. Can she do this without a license?

    Thank you,
    Trisha Smith

  183. says

    Trisha,
    No, she cannot. Making/bottling/selling Kahlua requires a Type 14, Distilled Spirits Manufacturer’s License. B&P Code Section 23015 defines a distilled spirits manufacturer as ” . . . any person who produces distilled spirits from naturally fermented materials or in any other manner. . . .” The Type 14 license authorizes production, packaging, bottling, rectifying, flavoring and other privileges. In addition, a Type 14 licensee may only sell his/her product to distilled spirits wholesalers, other distilled spirits manufacturers, distilled spirits manufacturer’s agents, and distilled spirits rectifiers. The licensee may not sell the product to retailers or consumers. Performing the privileges of a license, without a license, is a misdemeanor, and can result in fines and/or jail. Thank you for your question. Lauren

  184. Shelly says

    Hi everyone,

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Do you need a liquor license if you are a Private club that is not charging for alcohol?

  185. says

    Shelly,
    Business & Professions Code § 25604 reads:

    Maintenance of unlicensed club room or drinking place. It is a public nuisance for any person to maintain any club room in which any alcoholic beverage is received or kept, or to which any alcoholic beverage is brought, for consumption on the premises by members of the public or of any club, corporation, or association, unless the person and premises are licensed under this division. It is a public nuisance for any person to keep, maintain, operate or lease any premises for the purpose of providing therein for a consideration a place for the drinking of alcoholic beverages by members of the public or other persons, unless the person and premises are licensed under this division. As used herein “consideration” includes cover charge, the sale of food, ice, mixers or other liquids used with alcoholic beverage drinks, or the furnishing of glassware or other containers for use in the consumption of alcoholic beverage drinks. The Attorney General or any district attorney may bring an action in the name of the people to abate the nuisance, and the Attorney General shall, upon request of the department, bring the action.”

  186. Evelyn says

    Hi Lauren,

    I work for a private, non-profit secondary school in CA. Every year we hold a fundraiser auction at the school (we own the building) where admission is charged and, once you’re in the door, wine is complimentary. We also have students on the premises providing entertainment (singing). We have never had a permit before, and I’m being told that because we don’t “sell” the wine, no license is needed. It seems to me that because we charge admission, we ought to be getting a license. The ABC-221 wine license seems like just what we ought to have, and isn’t even that expensive. Do I need to be pushing for our school to obtain this license for our event? And does it matter who serves the wine? If we have the special event license, would it be okay to have parent volunteers serving or do we need to have a licensed bartender? Thanks!

  187. says

    Evelyn,

    A license is required if any “consideration” is involved in a transaction involving alcoholic beverages. Consideration means direct payment, charging of admission, sale of tickets, etc. A “Special Daily Wine” license costing $25 per day is required under the circumstances you describe. To apply, use form Form ABC-221. Non-profit organizations would qualify for this license, but would have to show proof of non-profit status. Normally alcoholic beverages are not permitted on school premises. However, that law does not apply to private schools.

    An experienced, professional bartender is not required, but a good idea. If they have undergone “responsible beverage service training,” all the better. Anyone age 21 or older could serve the wine. However, keep in mind that the liability for the volunteer is the same as that of a professional bartender; i.e., they are subject to criminal (and sometimes civil) liability for serving anyone under age 21 or an obviously intoxicated person (person who looks or acts drunk).

    The ABC provides the Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) training program for both professional bartenders and volunteer servers. The FREE class is 3-1/2 hours long and offered at locations throughout the state. The schedule is on the ABC’s website.

    In addition to training, it is a good idea to develop some written alcohol policies for your event to reduce risk of problems. Again, the ABC offers sample policies on their website which can be adapted to any situation. Lauren

  188. Richard says

    I am in the begining stages of putting together what I need to open a beer taphouse/beer cafe. The purposes of this business would be to serve beer on tap for on premisis consumption, to serve beer into portable containers such as mason jars to be enjoyed at home and bottle sales for on or off premisis consumption. With this in mind, could you please help me in figuring out which license(s) according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control?

  189. says

    Richard,

    You would need a Type 40, On-Sale Beer license to sell beer for consumption on the premises. This is considered a retail license to sell beer to consumers. The Type 40 would also authorize the sale of beer to go, but only in the original sealed containers. You cannot do mason jars. Growlers (refillable containers) are also prohibited for retail licensees. The cost for a new license is an original fee of $200 plus annual fee of $261. There are a number of application forms to be completed. The fees and procedures are different if you plan to take over an existing licensed establishment. That would require opening escrow and other things. Also, for a new business, be sure to check with your local planning department to ensure you are zoned properly. Your concept might require a conditional use permit from the city. Lauren

  190. Richard says

    Thanks Lauren for the quick response. The business would most likely not be an existing licensed establishment but have to be converted as such. As you stated in your response, refillable containers would not be permitted. Is there a license that would allow that as well or is it not possible for retailers to do this? Also what is the main difference between Type 40 and Type 42? Type 40 says that food or snackes must be provided as well as minors allowed on the premises. How does this differ from Type 42? Thank you

  191. says

    Richard,
    You’re quite welcome. Retailers are not allowed to refill containers; there is no license, permit or authorization available to them for that. The Type 42 differs from the Type 40 in that the Type 42 permits and sale of beer AND wine, and no minors are allowed on the premises. If you did not want to serve the sandwiches/snacks required by the Type 40 license, you could apply for a Type 61, On-Sale Beer Public Premises, which permits the sale of beer for consumption on the premises and in original sealed containers to go; no minors are allowed; and no food is required to be served. Lauren

  192. Melanie Reesing says

    Can an HOA sell alcoholic drinks at an HOA event without a liquor license?

  193. Megan says

    Hi Lauren,

    I work at a sales kiosk in the local mall that sells a product meant to mixed with alcoholic beverages. Currently, we offer samples of our product mixed with non-alcoholic wine. A few days ago, I heard my boss mention that she plans to start offering samples with regular wine because it “will taste better and less watered down.”

    For obvious reasons her intentions concern me. Ultimately, if she begins sampling our product with real wine that means I will be the person physically handing out the samples. Is this legal to do without a liquor license? I asked my boss the same question and she disregarded it stating that our sample size (approx. 3 table spoons) is too small to worry about applying for a liquor license. Is she right?

    We are in the state of Arizona, by the way.

    Thank you for insight,
    Megan

  194. says

    Hi Megan,

    It would not be legal in California. As for Arizona, their liquor laws are contained in Title 4 including Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS). There is also the Arizona Administrative Code (“Rules”) which support and clarify Arizona liquor laws. ARS Section 4-244(1) and (2) read:

    “It is unlawful: 1. For a person to buy for resale, sell or deal in spirituous liquors in this state without first having procured a license duly issued by the board. 2. For a person to sell or deal in alcohol for beverage purposes without first complying with this title.” This law does not specify the quantity of alcoholic beverage involved. Therefore, any quantity, no matter how small, would violate the law.
    There is a provision that allows “bona fide market research programs.” However, that doesn’t seem to fit what your boss wants to do. On its website, the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control says this about market research programs:
    “Market research programs may be conducted in Arizona. Bona fide market research via personal or mail is authorized if: The products being distributed are shipped through or obtained from an authorized licensed wholesaler; People handling the products are 19 years old or older; Participants are of legal drinking age; The total amount of product being tested does not exceed 72 ounces of beer, cooler, or wine product or 750 milliliters of distilled spirits. Arizona Administrative Code references R19-1-228.”

    For more information, contact the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control at (602) 542-5141. It’s good that you are cautious because alcoholic beverages are highly regulated and violations are not taken lightly by authorities. Thank you for your question. Lauren

  195. Phillip says

    I am interested in serving alcohol prior to a theatre performance. It will be in a 99 seat theater and I was wondering if a license was required or if selling it by donation was acceptable. What are the guidelines here?

  196. says

    Phillip,

    Serving alcohol in a public place (as opposed to a private party/event) is considered illegal.

    Business & Professions Code § 25604 reads:

    “Maintenance of unlicensed club room or drinking place. It is a public nuisance for any person to maintain any club room in which any alcoholic beverage is received or kept, or to which any alcoholic beverage is brought, for consumption on the premises by members of the public or of any club, corporation, or association, unless the person and premises are licensed under this division. It is a public nuisance for any person to keep, maintain, operate or lease any premises for the purpose of providing therein for a consideration a place for the drinking of alcoholic beverages by members of the public or other persons, unless the person and premises are licensed under this division. As used herein “consideration” includes cover charge, the sale of food, ice, mixers or other liquids used with alcoholic beverage drinks, or the furnishing of glassware or other containers for use in the consumption of alcoholic beverage drinks. The Attorney General or any district attorney may bring an action in the name of the people to abate the nuisance, and the Attorney General shall, upon request of the department, bring the action.”

    Accepting donations in exchange for an alcoholic beverage is the same as “selling” it and would require a license. The law reads:

    § 23300. Necessity for license. No person shall exercise the privilege or perform any
    act which a licensee may exercise or perform under the authority of a license unless the person is authorized to do so by a license issued pursuant to this division.

    § 23301. Penalty for operation without license. Any person violating Section 23300 is guilty of a misdemeanor, except that any person, without having a still license, exercising the privileges or performing any act which a still licensee may exercise or perform is guilty of a felony.

    § 23025. “Sell”; “Sale”; “To sell”. “Sell” or “sale” and “to sell” includes any transaction
    whereby, for any consideration, title to alcoholic beverages is transferred from one person to another, and
    includes the delivery of alcoholic beverages pursuant to an order placed for the purchase of such beverages and soliciting or receiving an order for such beverages, but does not include the return of alcoholic beverages by a licensee to the licensee from whom such beverages were purchased.

    Thanks for your question. Lauren

  197. Phillip says

    Thanks Lauren. That was what I expected so the next question is what kind of license would be required for a 99 seat theatre and is it possible to bring in someone licensed to run the concessions?

  198. says

    Phillip,
    There are two types of licenses for theaters, and they are allowed by Section 24045.7 of the Business & Professions Code. One is the Type 64, On-Sale General Theater license. The fee is $1,508 the first year and $508 each year thereafter. Examples include the San Diego Civic Theater, The San Diego Repertory Theater and the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. The other is a Type 69, Special On-Sale General Beer & Wine Theater license, which costs $561 the first year and $261 each year thereafter.

    For both the Type 64 and 69, the theater company must be a nonprofit organization under the IRS Code. In addition, theater companies may only sell and serve alcoholic beverages to ticketholders during, and two hours prior to, and one hour after, a theater performance of the company. And of course, the theater cannot sell or serve alcoholic beverages during restricted hours (between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. of the same day). Also, the Type 69 license may only be issued to a “nonprofit theater company which has been in existence for at least eight years, which for at least six years has performed in facilities leased or rented from a local county fair association.”

    As to having someone else handle the concessions, it would be best to discuss your particular business model with the local ABC District Office having jurisdiction over your location. Having a concessionaire there might be feasible. The ABC District Office, after hearing about your business model, can advise you of the best solution for your situation.

    Thanks for your question. Lauren

  199. says

    What are the requirements to qualify as a “Club” (type 51 license)? I know that groups like the Elks and the Moose Lodge fall under this category but I have been unable to find what the requirements are to qualify as a club.

  200. says

    Patrick,
    The Type 51, Club License, authorizes the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits to members and guests only, for consumption on the premises where sold. There are numerous sections of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (Division 9, Business & Professions Code), which describe the different types of clubs that qualify for this type license. The sections begin at Section 23425 (national fraternal organizations), and continues with Section 23426 (golf clubs), Section 23426.5 (tennis clubs), and there many others. Because there are so many types of clubs listed, I’d recommend reading through those sections yourself. Here is the link. Again, it starts with Section 23425 and continues through Section 23428.28. Lauren

  201. Al says

    Hi Lauren,
    I have a question regarding serving alcohol at a private, invite only party in a public place. We are in the early stages of planning a large party at a public park’s reserved BBQ area. We have checked with our local city and they have tentatively ok’d it as long as we pay the necessary fees and get the right city permits. All together though the fees are 500.00. We want to ask party guests to donate to cover the costs of these fees. It is my understanding that this would constitute selling of alcohol and would require an ABC permit? Is this true?

  202. Dason E says

    Hi lauren, thanks for all your work here.

    Heres my problem:

    im in Charlotte , NC

    I have a tattoo / barbershop that i would like to convert into a sports bar / lounge. The building is grandfathered in and we share the 4000 sqft building with a convience store (with only a wall seperating us.), They sell beer and cigarettes and wine next door. We want to be able to either make our side a private club, a sports bar or any type of establishment that would allow us to serve drinks.

    1) is there anyway we can serve drinks without charging for them?
    2) can somebody renting my establishment for an event offer alcohol?
    3)can we hire a catering service that serves alcohol to cater our event even though WE dont have a liquor license?

    please tell me a way around being able to serve drinks.

    how come the store can sell beer but we cant? we are in the same building / zoning. even though i know theirs if for off premise.

    what can we do? can we allow people to bring there own bottles? legally?

  203. says

    Dason,

    Thanks for your question. Businesses selling alcohol in NC must abide by the NC General Statutes, Chapter 18B. These statutes cover the subject of licenses, including types of licenses available, and other topics. Businesses located in Mecklenburg County (i.e., Charlotte) are required by law to obtain a permit from the NC ABC Commission, but also a local Beer and Wine License.

    You asked me why the adjacent store can sell beer but you can’t. I assume you have already contacted either the North Carolina ABC Commission and/or the city and they told you “No.” If the State or the City already told you no–for whatever reason– there is likely no way around it. I don’t know about NC, but most states are pretty similar in the areas of sales/serving without a license. In CA, selling alcohol without a license is illegal. And so is giving away drinks, or BYOB, at an unlicensed business open to the public. This is called an illegal “bottle club” in CA, and is considered a “public nuisance.” You may be able to rent your space out to someone for an event where alcohol is served, but there is likely a special event permit or catering permit required. I don’t know if the NC ABC Commission issues licenses/permits to caterers. You would have to check with them. I hope this helps.

  204. says

    I Paid for a renewal of my Liquor License. Not knowing that i needed to change the name on the license. When i told them i was going to change the name they told me i had to apply. I knew i would have to apply, but they wont let me use the money that i paid for the renewal towards my new license. It has only been a week since i paid the renewal. Why wont they let me transfer the payment towards the new license.

  205. says

    Derek,
    If you are going to change the name on your license (add a partner, drop a partner, change the ownership entity, etc.), then that would require an application to “transfer” the license. You cannot transfer your existing license unless the renewal is paid. The transfer fee is a separate fee, and will be required at the time of application for the transfer. Hope this helps! You can always call me with further questions 951-977-8757. Lauren

  206. Jessica says

    Hello, thanks for all your helpful information. I’d like to start a mobile bar service. Which permits will be required & while I am waiting on those permits, can I serve as a mobile bartender if I am not selling or buying the alcohol?

    Thank you

  207. says

    Jessica,
    No liquor license or permit is required for a mobile bar service, providing you
    abide by the following guidelines.
    A mobile bartender:

    1. May NOT pick up the alcohol and then be reimbursed for it
    2. May NOT get paid in advance for alcohol, then pick it up and deliver it to the party site
    3. May NOT be paid for alcohol sales, but only for bartending services (otherwise he/she would be exercising the privilege of a licensed caterer and that would be illegal)
    4. May NOT return the alcohol to the seller after the party (all alcohol belongs to the host)
    5. MAY suggest to the host what alcohol to buy and how much
    6. MAY bring equipment to the party
    7. MAY be paid a flat fee or by the hour, and collect tips for services only

    Also, check with your city about a city business license, fictitious name statement filing, etc.
    Hope this helps! Lauren

  208. Brian says

    Hello

    My friend and I are thinking of starting a mobile bartender service where we will provide the alcohol AND sell the alcohol. We will also charge a flat rate/ or hourly fee for our services. We do not have an existing restaurant or bar to build off from. We are thinking of catering to events like wedding, parties, corporate events, and other private events.If we were to sell the alcohol would it change the event from private to social event? And at these events, minors will be present. ( of course we will not serve to anyone under 21.)I am still unsure of this and would like your feedback. What license do we need to legally conduct the business? I have read other similar questions about this topic but I am still unsure of what I need to do.

  209. says

    Brian,

    A mobile bartender service cannot sell the alcoholic beverages, and this is true whether it is a private or a public event.
    Why? Because there is no license available for a mobile bartending service, per se, and a person cannot sell alcoholic
    beverages without a license.

    To legally conduct the business you describe, a person would need a Type 58 catering license. And a person can only
    obtain a Type 58 license if he or she already has a licensed establishment (restaurant, bar, etc.) A Type 58 license
    is not a stand-alone license.

    A mobile bartender:
    1. May NOT pick up the alcohol and then be reimbursed for it
    2. May NOT get paid in advance for alcohol, then pick it up and deliver it to the party site
    3. May NOT be paid for alcohol sales, but only for bartending services (otherwise he/she would be exercising the privilege of a licensed caterer and that would be illegal)
    4. May NOT return the alcohol to the seller after the party (all alcohol belongs to the host)
    5. MAY suggest to the host what alcohol to buy and how much
    6. MAY bring equipment to the party
    7. MAY be paid a flat fee or by the hour, and collect tips for services only

    Lauren

  210. Al says

    I have kind of an oddball question. Does the ABC regulate the use of alcohol in food? Let’s say a restaurant has beer battered fish and chips or something similar. Are they required to have the appropriate license if they don’t serve alcoholic beverages but use it as an ingredient in preparing food. Thanks.

  211. says

    Al,
    Thanks for your question. It depends if the business is licensed by the ABC or not. ABC would not regulate the cooking ingredients of a restaurant or other business that is not licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.

    However, if a business is licensed by the ABC, then there is a law that would apply. First, a restaurant licensed Type 41 (“On-Sale Beer & Wine”) is permitted to have brandy, rum and liqueurs on the premises solely for cooking purposes (Section 25607b B&P Code). A business licensed Type 48 (“On-Sale General”) is permitted to sell beer, wine and spirits, so they could use any of those beverages in cooking. Likewise, a Type 75 (“On-Sale General BrewPub”) is authorized to sell beer, wine and spirits; they could also cook with all three products. Other licensed establishments, however, such as a beer bar, could not possess wine or spirits for any reason; likewise, a beer and wine bar could not possess spirits for any reason. That’s because these products are not covered under their licenses. In other words, if you have an ABC license, you are only allowed to possess (or cook with) what you are allowed to sell.

    The only other law relating to alcoholic beverages and cooking is Section 307 of the Penal Code, which says it is a misdemeanor to sell, give or furnish to a person under age 21, any candy, cake, cookie, or chewing gum which contains alcohol in excess of 1/2 of 1 percent by weight. I hope this helps! Lauren

  212. Drew says

    Hi,
    I have a question regarding church dinners and alcohol. My parish holds a dinner twice a year as a fundraiser in the church hall. They have beer and wine for sale at the dinner. Do they (we) need a license? I did some research and it appears that we apply for a one day license? Is this just a formality or is there much more involved? Does the need to have a license change if we just include the price of the alcohol in the dinner ticket, instead of a seperate charge. Obviously being a church we want to do the right thing. I am sure we arent’t the first church group to face this. Thanks.

  213. says

    Drew,
    Yes, a one-day license (“Special Daily Beer & Wine License”) would be required. As a religious organization, the church would qualify for the license. The license is the same whether you include the cost of alcohol in the dinner ticket or charge for it separately. To apply, complete a Form ABC-221 and submit it to your local ABC district office. There are also instructions for completing the form. Lauren

  214. John says

    If a non-profit decides to hold a food and wine tasting event where restaurants participate by providing food samples, yet they forgo the Special event permit due to time constraints and contract (purchase) all beer and wine from the licensed premises and it is served by the premises bartenders only.

    How would the non-profit and/or licensed premise need to structure the ticket sales in order to not receive profit from the alcohol and be legal?

    If this was structured properly could they then legally sell tickets to their fundraiser.

  215. says

    John – Where is this being held? Is this some sort of Wine Walk, where patrons walk from one licensed establishment to the next? If so, then it seems to me the individual retail licensees (bars restaurants) should handle their own alcohol sales, and any admission price/ticket would exclude alcoholic beverages. If the event is held at a central location (unlicensed), then the non-profit would have to either get a ABC license (permit) or have the event catered by a licensed caterer. I think it’s best you contact your local ABC district office, who is responsible for approving events of this nature. Lauren

  216. Valencia says

    Hi Lauren,
    Great Blog by the way…
    I am thinking of starting a Beer delivery service. My service would consist of taking phone orders from people who run out of beer, have had a few drinks and dont want to drink and drive. People can just call, place their order, and I would deliver to their home. Is this business possibe,and if so, what type of permits and licenses do I need? I live in a town where two counties divide, do I need a license and permit for each county I will be delivering to? I would also like to drive to Mexico and bring mexican beer that is currently not offered in the states, would this be legal as well?

    Sorry for all the questions i hope to hear back from you soon.

    Thank you.

  217. says

    Valencia,

    Thank you for the question. First, I am puzzled why you would want to deliver alcoholic beverages to someone who has “had a few drinks” and didn’t want to drink and drive. It seems this would be adding to, rather than solving, a problem. That being said, there is no state liquor license available for a beer delivery service, per se. This is true whether you obtain the beer from in-state or Mexico. You would have to own a liquor store, supermarket or other liquor-licensed retail store. Only then would you be authorized, under a state liquor license, to deliver packaged alcoholic beverages to customers’ homes.

    Importation of alcoholic beverages for resale would require a Type 09 Importer’s License. This license is issued to a person who also holds another license for resale; for example, a Type 17 Beer & Wine Wholesaler’s license.

    Importation of alcoholic beverages for personal or household use is regulated by Section 23661 of the CA Business and Professions Code. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control explains this law in detail on their website here.

    http://www.abc.ca.gov/permits/importing.html

  218. Al says

    Hi.
    Does the CA ABC have jurisdiction over federal land (military bases, national parks, etc.) We are looking into having an event at a lake that is on federal land( Bureau of Reclaimation). The reason I ask is that I was at my local health department inquiring about permits. They stated stated that the CA Food Code is not enforced by their agency on federal land. Just wondering if it was the same for ABC

  219. Tim says

    I know someone that is starting up a wine tasting and knowledge party service, and believes that they do not need a permit. Do they?. Wine is being brought to the home or establishment and being served.

  220. Al says

    Hello, I have a question regarding ABC permits on federal land. Mainly who has jurisdiction? We are want to host an event at a lake/campground that is federally owned (Bureau of Reclamation). Would we still need state permits? How does it work at other federal institutions (military bases, national parks,etc.. Thanks

  221. says

    Tim, there is no short answer to this question. There are so many variables that come into play and not easily explained in a blog post. This is why I conduct feasibility studies for clients who have a business idea. Each client seems to have a different twist on an idea, so it requires a thorough analysis on my part. I will say, however, that in general in-home wine parties are permitted by the ABC, subject to certain restrictions. As for events held at an “establishment,” I’m not sure what you mean by an establishment–an ABC-licensed establishment or just an unlicensed business of some sort? If a licensed establishment, then there are other laws that would apply. Again, I’m not able to answer yes or no based on the information you provided. Lauren

  222. says

    Al – The California ABC does not license military bases or national parks, but it does license Indian Casinos. I would contact the authorities for the particular lake in question and find out what their policy is. Lauren

  223. Al says

    Lauren..thanks for your reply. Apparently the lake administrator is making us get an ABC permit for our event. I just wonder if anyone really knows if we really need a permit. I don’t think most people realize that it is technically federal land. I realize that the lake administrator is trying to cover themselves from liability. I also seriously doubt the local ABC office has any clue about the true jurisdiction…it really is portrayed as a “local” lake. They would have no way of knowing that it is Federal land. By the way I found this out in a round about way. I was dealing with my county’s health department and they mentioned that don’t inspect the lake’s cafe and snack bar since it is on federal land.

  224. colleen says

    I know someone selling beer without a license in Cali, they say they are a beer rep for a company and don’t need licences is this true??

  225. says

    Colleen,
    A beer distributor must be licensed with a license Type 17, Beer & Wine Wholesaler license. Reps who work for beer distributors cannot –outside of their employment–sell beer. Selling alcohol without a license is a misdemeanor. You can report it to your local district offfice of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. ~Lauren

  226. Ashley Salyer says

    Hi, my husband works at a restaurant in Mesa, Arizona. We just discovered that their liquor license expired on 2/28/14 and has not been renewed. What kind of penalties could they face? Will they be shut down if caught? Will they even be able to renew? It is a beer and liquor license. Thanks.

  227. says

    Ashley,
    A quick check of the Arizona Department of Liquor’s website shows there is a $150 late fee. The restaurant should contact that agency right away to get things squared away. It appears an application must be filed in order to renew. Unlike California, it’s not just a matter of paying a fee. I don’t know what the penalties are in Arizona for selling alcohol on an expired license. But there is likely a penalty. It could range from a fine to a criminal citation. Here is a link to more details on the renewal process.
    http://www.azliquor.gov/renewals.cfm