HomeFood LawWhich Alcohol Promotion is Permitted in California?

Which Alcohol Promotion is Permitted in California?

Discounted drinks and food and drink specials are alcohol promotions that are permitted in California. However, discounted drinks are only allowed if the price is below the cost the restaurant paid for them. In addition, the alcoholic drink in the food and drink special must not be offered as free. There are over 92,000 California establishments with alcoholic beverage licenses. Restaurants use these licenses to host happy hours to attract customers into the businesses to generate sales. However, the State of California has strict requirements for how a restaurant may offer alcohol promotions.

Who Controls Alcohol Sales in California?

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) controls alcohol sales in California. The ABC is a California government agency that regulates the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages. It was founded in 1955 and controls many aspects of alcohol sales including what alcohol promotion is permitted in California (e.g., happy hour). Alcoholic beverage licenses from ABC generate over $376 million in State revenue per year.

Is Happy Hour Permitted in California?

Yes, happy hour is permitted in California for discounted drinks and food and drink specials. However, the discounted drinks may not be below the cost the restaurant paid for them from the drink supplier. In addition, restaurants may not offer a free drink in their food and drink special. 

Can You Give Away Free Alcohol in California?

No, alcohol may not be given away for free in California businesses with alcohol beverage licenses because it is illegal. The State of California wants to prevent over intoxication, and if restaurants give out free alcohol there is a high chance its patrons will become overly intoxicated. This can be unsafe because these individuals may drive a car after drinking and cause harm to themselves or others.

Which Alcohol Promotion is Permitted in California for Ladies Night?

There are no alcohol promotions that are permitted in California for ladies night. This is because drink specials for certain groups of people are discriminatory and illegal. Therefore, if an alcohol promotion is offered to one group, it must be offered to all groups that are above the age of 21 and can lawfully drink alcohol.

What Time Can You Sell Alcohol in California?

Alcohol may be sold after 6:00 AM and up until before 2:00 AM. Therefore, establishments may not sell alcohol during the 4 hour window of 2:00 AM – 6:00 AM. This will help prevent over intoxication of individuals.

Alcohol promotions are held at many restaurants throughout California and they must follow the law to avoid trouble with the ABC. Penalties for violating these laws may include fines, losing an alcoholic beverage license, and/or potential criminal charges.


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