How Late Can You Sell Alcohol at Your Store, Bar or Restaurant?

Originally Published : January 15, 2014

The hours that a restaurant, bar or retail store can legally serve alcohol until are determined by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (“ABCL”).  However, the outer limits set by the ABCL are trumped by the rules of the county in which the establishment or store is located.   Additionally, the Community Board or local municipality that has jurisdiction over the establishment can further limit the restaurant or bar’s closing hours.

The New York State Liquor Authority (or “SLA”) allows a liquor/wine store to open and sell alcohol to the public Monday through Saturday until midnight.  On Sundays, a liquor/wine store can sell only from noon until 9:00 p.m.  Grocery stores and drug stores cannot sell beer on Sundays from 3:00 a.m. until noon.  Also, a liquor/wine store is not allowed to sell alcohol on Christmas Day.

The Authority allows a restaurant or bar to serve alcohol to the public seven nights a week until 4:00 a.m.  “Last call” can be until 4:00 a.m., and the “hard closing” must happen by 4:30 a.m.

However, a storeowner or a bar/restaurant owner must be cognizant of the closing hours dictated by the county it is located in.  Although the Authority allows for service up until 4:00 a.m. at bars and restaurants, a county may limit those hours.  Many counties only allow service until 2:00 a.m.

Another wrinkle that bar and restaurant owners must take into account are the stipulations entered into with the Community Board or the board of a local municipality that has jurisdiction over it.  Typically, these stipulations are decided at a meeting between the board and the applicant.

At this meeting, community members voice their concerns about the incoming business, and try to work out a compromise on operating hours that work for everyone. The owner must honor the stipulations decided upon at the meeting. To ensure that these stipulations are incorporated into the liquor license application, a copy is sent to the SLA.

If you’d like to learn more about the Liquor Licensing and Permitting of your new restaurant or bar and ways that Helbraun Levey can help navigate the process here: contact our Founding Partner, Joseph Levey to get information from our firm.