NY Liquor Licenses

Novar has helped numerous entrepreneurs realize their dream of opening a restaurant or bar and advises on the ongoing regulatory issues that govern the industry. There are many issues involved in the liquor license application process, but most fundamentally, one must be familiar with the following:

Who is Eligible to hold a NYS Liquor License ?

Applications are investigated to determine eligibility for a license in three general areas - the principals, the premises and the source of finances.

- Applicants must be US citizens or have permanent resident alien status. In some cases, citizens of countries with reciprocal trade agreements may apply.
- Applicants must be 21 or older.
- Applicants must not be convicted felons (unless they have a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities).
- Applicants cannot be a police officer with arresting powers.

What are the Classes of Liquor Licenses available?

The Alcohol Beverage Control Law defines various licenses and permits within two general categories - wholesale and retail. Wholesalers include those licensees manufacturing, storing and distributing alcoholic beverages for sale to licensed retailers. Retailers are those licensees who can purchase, stock and sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on or off-premises. The length of the license period varies depending on the class or type of license issued.

DRUG STORE BEER: Beer license for off-premises only by bonafide pharmacies (take out).

GROCERY STORE BEER: Beer license for off-premises only by bonafide groceries (take out).

GROCERY BEER/WINE PRODUCT: Off-premises beer license as listed above, see "Grocery Store Beer". Additionally a "wine product" is defined as a beverage containing wine with added juice, flavoring, water, citric acid, sugar and carbon dioxide, not containing more than six percent alcohol by volume (typically referred to as "wine coolers").

DRUG BEER/WINE PRODUCT: Off-premises beer license as listed above (see "Drug Store Beer/Wine Product"). Also note "Wine Product" definition under "Grocery Beer/Wine Product".

EATING PLACE BEER: For on-premises (consumption on the premises) beer. Food must be prepared and served on the premises to satisfy the SLA that the sale of beer is incidental to and not the prime source of revenue for the premises. Beer may ALSO be sold for off-premises consumption (take out).

HOTEL BEER: A hotel is a building used for the regular feeding and lodging of guests. This may also apply to apartment situations whereupon the keeper of such hotel provides meals in a restaurant for occupants. License includes room service situations as well as sale for "off-premises" consumption (take out).

CLUB BEER: Does NOT refer to "nightclub" or "private" bar where the applicant wishes to restrict admission to certain classes or groups of people. A "club" refers to an organization of persons incorporated under the "Not-for-Profit Corporation" law or the "Benevolent Orders" law, and which is the owner, lessee or occupant of the building used EXCLUSIVELY for club purposes. An Alcoholic Beverage Control officer must be appointed to act as a liaison to the SLA. This license allows for consumption of beer on the premises for members and guests.

BALL PARK BEER: For on-premises consumption of beer at baseball parks, racetracks, and other athletic fields and stadia OTHER than those maintained by EDUCATIONAL Institutions.

RESTAURANT WINE: License for on-premises consumption of wine and beer in a place where food is prepared in such quantities that the sale of wine and beer is not the prime source of revenue.

HOTEL WINE: See "Hotel Beer" for definition of "hotel". Allows on-premises sale of wine and beer in both a restaurant in the hotel as well as room service.

CLUB WINE: Does NOT mean "nightclub" or "private bar" designed to restrict admission to a specific group of persons, or class of people. See "Club Beer" for definition of "Club". Allows for on-premises sale of wine or beer for club members and guests. The club must appoint an ABC officer.

TAVERN WINE: Allows sale for on-premises consumption of wine and beer.

LIQUOR STORE: For the sale of liquor and wine (no beer) for consumption off the premises. The only additional items allowed to be sold, such as ice and corkscrews, are listed in the ABC Law. Only one license is allowed per person (corporation, partnership, etc.).

HOTEL LIQUOR: See "Hotel Beer" for definition of "Hotel". Allows consumption of liquor, wine and beer on the premises, including room service. Allows for consumption off the premises, sale of beer only (not liquor or wine). The holder of an "HL" license may apply for a "Hotel Off-Premises" (HOP) permit to sell liquors and wines for off-premises consumption provided there is no liquor store in an eight mile radius.

CLUB LIQUOR: Does NOT refer to "nightclub" or "private" bar where the applicant wishes to restrict admission to a certain group or class of people. See "Club Beer" for definition of Club. License allows consumption for on the premises for liquor, wine and beer for members and guests. The club MUST appoint an ABC Officer.

CATERING ESTABLISHMENT: Allows providers of food for banquet halls, dining halls, etc., to provide liquor, wine and beer for consumption for an assemblage for a particular function (i.e. retirement dinner, wedding reception, private party) to which the general public is not admitted. This license is for this type of function only.

ON-PREMISES LIQUOR: Generally considered to be the standard "bar" license. Allows on-premises consumption of liquor, wine and beer and also allows for sale of beer (only) for off-premises consumption. Food, such as soups and sandwiches, MUST be served.

CABARET LIQUOR: For consumption on the premises, liquor, wine and beer, but for premises specializing in musical entertainment. Must have a capacity for at least 600 persons.

WINE STORE: Not to be confused with the Retail Wine Outlet for a Farm Winery. License to sell WINE ONLY (not liquor or beer) for off-premises consumption, under the same basic conditions as a Liquor Store.

MICROBREWERY: May produce or brew up to 60,000 barrels of beer. May sell to licensees. May NOT sell to the general public without a brewer's retail permit. May have a restaurant in or adjacent to the brewery. Will require applying for an on-premises retail license.

RESTAURANT - BREWER: Commonly referred to as a "brew pub" license. This license allows brewing of beer on-premises, as well as on-premises sale of liquor, wine and beer. The applicant must have a bonafide restaurant. The applicant may have up to five separate locations, and may produce 5,000 barrels of beer per location, not to exceed 20,000 barrels.

SUPPLEMENTAL RESTAURANT BREWER: Allows a restaurant brewer to sell for off-premises, wholesale, and outdoor gatherings, up to 250 barrels of beer a year.

Most Common Violations of the ABC Law

The following list, while not all inclusive, will help to familiarize you with the most common violations of the ABC Law:
Sale to Minor (under 21 years old) - Section 65.1. (It is important to note that the Members of the Authority have directed that any sale to a person under 16 can result in revocation of the license, even for a first offense.)
Sale to Intoxicated Person - Section 65.2.
Prohibited Hours of Sale - Sections 105.(a), 105.14 and 106.5.
Prohibited Hours of Consumption - Section 106.5.
Employment of a Minor - Section 100.2(a).
Disorderly Premises (includes Gambling at on premises establishments, Lewd and Indecent conduct, Assaults,
Narcotics at on premises establishments, Prostitution) - Section 106.6.
Gambling at establishments.
Narcotics at establishments.


Disciplinary Proceedings and Penalties

A disciplinary proceeding is an administrative action the SLA takes against licensees who violate the ABC Law or Rules of the State Liquor Authority. The first step in this action is a Notice of Pleading which is sent to the licensee outlining the charges brought by the Authority. The Notice of Pleading contains the date of the offense, the section of ABC Law violated and the maximum penalty for the offense. The Notice of Pleading also provides a pleading date by which the licensee must enter a plea to the charge, either in person or in writing. The licensee can plead:

no contest, which is a plea that provides the licensee an opportunity to make a statement as to any mitigating circumstances;
conditional no contest, which is a plea that allows the licensee to make an offer not to exceed a certain penalty to settle the charge; or
not guilty, which, under due process, entitles the licensee to a civil hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, where testimony is taken from both parties.

Most violations of the ABC Law are crimes for which the police may make an arrest. While the Authority has no criminal jurisdiction, it can commence a disciplinary civil proceeding against the licensee for the same charge which involved the arrest. This is an administrative action, not double jeopardy, should the licensee be charged and convicted of a crime.

Violations of the ABC Law and the Rules of the Authority can result in the imposition of penalties against licensees. These penalties range from:


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