Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Who Sells the Booze?

As a teenager I grew up in North Carolina where all liquor had to be bought at a state-owned ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) store.  For years I thought this was true in every state and just assumed the liquor stores on TV were also ABC stores.  Most states, however, allow privately owned but state licensed stores to sell beer, wine, and distilled spirits (liquor).  In 16 of the 18 states operating ABC stores, private stores and licensed grocery stores can sell wine and beer but not liquor.  Alabama and Utah restrict all alcoholic beverage sales -including beer, wine, and liquor- to state owned and operated stores.  Maryland has a mix of both ABC stores in some counties and private liquor stores in others.

Alcohol laws in the US are holdovers from the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.  The alcohol laws in various states vary considerably.  For instance, in North Carolina you must buy liquor at an ABC store, but you can buy beer and wine at the grocery store.  In Kentucky, liquor laws dating to the 1930s allow grocery stores to sell beer but require a separate license AND separate entrance/store to sell liquor and wine.  Recently there has been a push to allow grocery stores to sell wine in the actual grocery store -a move against which some liquor stores are lobbying.  In Utah you cannot technically order a double shot of alcohol, but you can order two single shots in two separate glasses.  And while New Hampshire requires all liquor sales go through state-owned ABC stores, the state kindly advertises its ABC stores with those giant, green, metal signs on NH interstates.

No comments: