THE ABC’S OF NEW YORK’S ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE LAW:
The New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (ABC) requires that persons or companies who wish to manufacture, distribute, or retail alcoholic beverages apply for and obtain a license. In New York, these licenses are issued by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA). The on-premises license that is required in order to operate at the retail level is commonly referred to a “liquor license.” There are a variety of on-premises license types issued by the SLA and it is important that you apply for the type of license that comports with your company’s proposed method of operation. Licenses are generally categorized by the physical characteristics of the premises, location of consumption, the type of alcohol to be sold, and the manner in which the business will be operated. The most popular types of on-premises licenses are discussed below.
On-Premises Liquor: Commonly referred to as an “OP” license, this is the standard license for bars, taverns, and lounges that wish to serve beer, wine, and liquor. This license also authorizes the licensee to sell take-out beer and growlers of beer (so long as the containers are sealed before being removed from the licensed premises). In order to obtain an OP license the minimum food requirements must be met. While an OP licensee is not required to maintain a full kitchen, a food preparation area must be designated.
Restaurant Wine: Commonly referred to as an RW license, this is the license most often obtained by restaurants, serving a full menu, that do not wish to serve liquor. The RW license contemplates that food, not beer and wine, will be the primary source of revenue for the licensee’s business.
Hotel Liquor: This license allows for the consumption of liquor, wine and beer on the premises, including in the hotel’s guest rooms. With this license, the Hotel may also sell beer (not wine or liquor) for consumption off of the licensed premises. The holder of this type of license may also apply for a "Hotel Off-Premises" (HOP) permit that, if granted, would authorize them to sell liquor and wine for off-premises consumption. The HOP permit is only available where there is no licensed off-premises establishment within an eight-mile radius of their licensed premises.
Club Liquor: This type of license authorizes the on-premises consumption of liquor, wine and beer for members and guests. In order for this type of license to issue, the club must appoint an “ABC Officer.” This license is often confused with the cabaret liquor license discussed below. The club liquor license does not refer to a nightclub or private establishment.
Club Wine: This type of license authorizes the on-premises consumption of wine and beer for members and guests. In order for this type of license to issue, the club must appoint an “ABC Officer.” This license is often confused with the cabaret liquor license discussed below. The club liquor license does not refer to a nightclub or private establishment. Restaurant-Brewer: The “brew pub” license allows the licensee to brew beer on the licensed premises and to serve beer, wine, and liquor. In order to qualify for a restaurant brewer license, an applicant must operate a bona fide restaurant on the premises. This license also permits the licensee to operate up to five separate locations. Each of the five locations may produce up to 5,000 barrels of beer per location, not to exceed 20,000 barrels in total.
Cabaret Liquor: This is the traditional nightclub license that authorizes the sale of liquor, wine and beer for on-premises consumption. However, this license will only issue for premises specializing in musical entertainment that also have capacity for at least 600 persons. Microbrewery: A microbrewers license is a wholesale license that allows the licensee to brew up to 60,000 barrels of beer on an annual basis. A license microbrewer may sell its product to other wholesalers and also to license retailers. A microbrewery may also sell to the general public after obtaining a brewer’s retail permit. The microbrewery may have a restaurant adjacent to the brewery, in which case it must also obtain an on-premises retail license for the sale of alcoholic beverages.
THE ON-PREMISES LICENSE APPLICATION
Securing a retail license for the sale of alcoholic beverages in New York requires the submission of a lengthy, comprehensive application. Defects in the application can cause drawn-out delays or even denial of the application. Utilizing an experienced liquor licensing attorney can save you time and expedite the application process.
The following are disqualifications to holding an alcoholic beverage retail license under the A.B.C. Law:
✔ Applicant is not a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or a national of a country having a reciprocal trade agreement with the United States.
✔ Applicant does not meet the age requirement, pursuant to which applicant must be 21 or older.
✔ Applicant is convicted of any felony (unless he or she has a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities), promoting or permitting prostitution, or the sale of liquor without an alcoholic beverage license.
✔ Applicant is a police officer.
✔ Applicant holds an interest in a wholesale license.
THE ATTORNEY CERTIFICATION PROGRAM
On September 11, 2009, the Members of the New York State Liquor Authority implemented the so-called “Attorney Certification Program.” The program allows licensed New York attorneys filing applications for retail establishments to certify that certain statements and documents submitted with the application are true and accurate and that the application meets certain statutory requirements. In turn, the State Liquor Authority relies on the information certified by the Attorney, eliminating the need for an examiner to review each document submitted in support of the application. In many cases, the program has resulted in expedited review times with application being processed as quickly as three weeks.
Successfully obtaining your on-premises alcoholic beverage license is not a simple task. Our attorneys are prepared to help you to apply for the correct license right for your business and navigate the application process.
To schedule an initial consultation regarding your retail alcoholic beverage liquor license application, please contact us through our Online Contact Form, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone: (212) 835-6768 in New York City, (215) 331-6487 in Philadelphia, or (609) 480-3080 in Princeton, New Jersey.