New York State Liquor Authority Advisory 2022-31

Advisory 2022-31 issues guidance on BYOB and free alcoholic beverages to customers.

The Advisory confirms that no liquor license is needed to allow BYOB or offer free drinks if that business has a max occupancy of 19 or less people. This will not apply to many businesses, but can be a welcome piece of news for some businesses with spaces having only a few hundred square feet. Notably, the Advisory uses the term “business,” not limiting the ruling to food and beverage businesses. This can apply to hair salons, small retailers and other businesses that want to offer an adult beverage. The Advisory also does not limit the alcoholic beverages to beer and wine. Cocktails and glasses of bourbon can be offered to customers if the maximum occupancy is 19 or less.

Another interesting part of the Advisory is the ability of the business in the case of BYOB to charge a corkage fee or a general fee just for the convenience of allowing BYOB.

The Advisory clarifies that if an admission fee is charged to a customer to attend an event, it is a “sale” – defining “sale” as any financial benefit, not just the exchange of money for the alcoholic beverage itself.

While this has limited applicability, it may benefit some small businesses who wish to offer a glass of adult beverage to customers. If you have questions on whether your business qualifies for this exemption, contact Tracy Jong and her team at Evans Fox. Put our years of experience and our current understanding of the ever-changing rules and policies of the SLA to work for your business.