Liquor store

Liquor store
The interior of a liquor store in Breckenridge, Colorado.


In the United States, Australia and Canada, a liquor store is a type of store that specializes in the sale of alcoholic beverages. In South Africa and Namibia these stores are generally called bottle stores.

In alcoholic beverage control (ABC) states, liquor stores often sell only spirits or sometimes sell spirits and wine but not beer. ABC-run stores may be called ABC stores or State Stores.

In Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, and Massachusetts, liquor stores are also technically known as “package stores” because purchased liquor must be packaged in a sealed container or bag when it is taken from the store.[1]

United Kingdom and Ireland

In the United Kingdom and Ireland the corresponding term is "off-licence," or "offie" for short, which refers to the fact that alcohol may be bought on the premises but must be consumed off the premises. Almost all supermarkets, grocery stores, and petrol stations have an off-licence.

The price of alcohol in off-licence establishments is substantially lower than its price in on-licence establishments (bars, pubs, and restaurants).


  • Australia - Regulation of alcoholic beverage sales is a state responsibility. Generally, beer, wine and spirits must be purchased at a bottle shop, colloquially known as a bottle-o in some states. These may be a separate section of a supermarket or an individual store - major retail corporations usually have their own bottle shop franchises located close to their supermarket operations. Drinking establishments may also sell liquor for off-site consumption. Drive thru alcoholic retail outlets are common. The state of Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory permit the sale of alcoholic beverages from supermarkets and convenience stores. In other states, attempts have been made to make alcoholic beverages available from a greater variety of retail outlets, but these have been repeatedly defeated, primarily due to the lobbying of the clubs, hotels, and pubs industry (which have vast gambling revenues), as well as the pressure of lobby groups who perceive that a more widespread availability of alcoholic beverages will increase the opportunity for harmful levels of alcohol consumption.

Nordic countries

Note: All Nordic countries, except Denmark, have government-owned alcohol monopolies.
  • Denmark - Alcoholic beverages can be bought at any grocery store or kiosk.
  • Faroe Islands - Alcoholic beverages above 1.8% ABV can be bought in "Rúsdrekkasøla Landsins", also known as "Rúsan"
  • Finland - Grocery stores may sell beer and other alcoholic beverages of less than 4.7% alcohol by volume (ABV), if the alcohol is produced by fermentation. All other alcohol must be purchased in the Alko store.
  • Iceland - Can only be bought at hard-liquor stores. Vínbúð stores.
  • Norway - Alcoholic beverages above 4.8% ABV can only be bought at Vinmonopolet stores.
  • Sweden - Grocery stores may sell beer and cider no higher than 3.5% ABV. All other alcohol must be purchased in the state-run Systembolaget stores.


  • Poland - All Supermarkets, convenience stores, and gas stations may sell beer, wine, and liquors only if they have concession to run this kind of sale.

United States

Some states in the United States operate their own retail stores for the sale of certain types of alcohol, such as this state-run liquor store in Cottonwood Heights, Utah.
The Bunghole, a liquor store in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Twenty-first Amendment of the United States Constitution allows states to regulate the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.[2] State regulations vary widely. The majority of the U.S. states have laws specifying which alcoholic beverages must be sold in specialty liquor stores and which may be sold in other venues.

In eighteen alcoholic beverage control states, the specialty liquor stores are owned and operated exclusively by the state government.

In five states (Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah), only low-point beer may be sold in supermarkets or gas stations.

In some states (e.g., California, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin), all alcoholic beverages can be sold practically anywhere, including drug stores and gas stations.


Note: All provinces except Alberta have government-owned retail liquor monopolies. British Columbia has both private and government-owned retail liquor outlets. However, due to Federal law, all provincial liquor boards must act as first importer of alcoholic beverages.[3][4]
  • Alberta - Only liquor stores may sell alcoholic beverages in urban areas, but unlike other provinces they are all privately owned and operated. Recently the province has allowed supermarkets to open attached liquor stores, but with separate entrances. Urban gasoline (petrol) stations and convenience stores may also have attached liquor stores but with separate entrances and ownership. In areas without another liquor retailer within a 15 km radius, any licensed retailer may sell beer, wine, and liquor, including convenience stores, general stores, and gasoline (petrol) stations. The AGLC has retained its monopoly over the wholesaling of imported beer, wine and distilled spirits, although the distribution of these products is done by a private contractor.
  • British Columbia - Only stores owned by pubs or hotels (as the primary license holder) and in the same jurisdiction, government owned stores, and rural government appointed liquor agencies may sell beer, wine, and liquor. There are also VQA wine stores which are privately owned and sell only BC wines that have the VQA designation. Also, there are a limited number of private wine shops which can sell both BC and non-BC wines.[5]
  • Manitoba - Only hotels may sell chilled domestic beer. Beer, Wine, and Liquor only sold by government owned Liquor Marts. There are also a limited number of private wine retailers in Manitoba as well.
  • New Brunswick - Only government owned liquor stores or rural government appointed liquor agencies may sell beer, wine, and liquor. However, breweries and cottage wineries may sell directly to the public if licensed to do so.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador - Convenience Stores may sell beer that is brewed locally. Wine, liquor and imported beer is only sold by government owned liquor stores, or rural government appointed liquor agencies.
  • Nova Scotia - In the past, only the provincially-owned NSLC (Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation) could sell liquor products, including hard liquor, wine, and beer. Many NSLC locations are connected to grocery stores. Over the past five years, the NSLC began to allow a limited number of small private agency stores to operate in rural areas where there is not a NSLC location.
  • Ontario - Predominantly foreign-owned and operated Brewers Retail Inc. (operating as The Beer Store) is the only privately owned entity that can sell beer. Only the provincially-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) may sell hard liquor or wine, though it also sells beer, particularly in small markets that Brewers Retail does not serve. There are also a limited number of privately owned specialty wine stores: Wine Rack, run by Vincor International and Vineyards Estate Wines, run by Andres Wines. The province allows Ontario wineries to maintain a fixed number of off-site retail locations under a clause that was grandfathered into legislation when the Canada-US free-trade agreement came into effect in 1989, and further allowed by WTO regulations implemented in 1995. Ontario is the only province where a winery is able to form a partnership with a department store to operate such retail locations. [6] [7]
  • Québec - Only the provincially-owned Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) may sell hard liquor. Wine (that is bottled in Québec or distributed through a Québec representative) and beer (that is brewed in Québec or imported beer that is distributed by a local brewer) can be purchased at dépanneurs (corner stores) and supermarkets.
  • Saskatchewan - Only government owned stores, rural private government liquor agencies (private contractors), and hotels may sell beer, wine and liquor.


  1. ^ E.g., Connecticut General Statutes, Chap. 545, Section 30-20.
  2. ^ U.S. Constitution, Amendment XXI, Section 2.
  3. ^ Canadian Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act
  4. ^ The distribution arrangements for Canadian alcohol sales are summarized in Statistics Canada's "The Control and Sale of Alcoholic Beverages in Canada," page 46. [1]
  5. ^ BC Liquor Board's breakdown of the retail alcohol system
  6. ^ Details on the Vincor and Wal-Mart retail locations. [2]
  7. ^ Full details about Ontario's retail alcohol system can be found in the most current LCBO Annual Report. [3]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • liquor store — liquor stores N COUNT A liquor store is a store which sells beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks. [AM] (in BRIT, use off licence) …   English dictionary

  • liquor store — liquor ,store noun count AMERICAN a store that sells alcoholic drinks …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • liquor store — n AmE a shop where alcohol is sold British Equivalent: off licence …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • liquor store — noun a store that sells alcoholic beverages for consumption elsewhere • Syn: ↑package store, ↑off licence • Hypernyms: ↑shop, ↑store * * * liquor store UK US noun [countable] [ …   Useful english dictionary

  • liquor store — Canadian Slang A specific reference to a government operated liquor store, as privately owned liquor stores are uncommon or illegal in Eastern Canada, depending on provincial liquor laws. A private liquor store is generally referred to as a Cold… …   English dialects glossary

  • liquor store — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms liquor store : singular liquor store plural liquor stores American an off licence …   English dictionary

  • liquor store — /ˈlɪkə stɔ/ (say likuh staw) noun a shop licensed to sell bottled or canned alcoholic liquor; bottle shop; cellars …   Australian-English dictionary

  • liquor store — noun a shop that sells alcoholic beverages to be drunk off the premises Syn: off licence, package store, bottle shop …   Wiktionary

  • liquor store — noun (C) AmE a shop where alcohol is sold; off licence BrE …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • ˈliquor ˌstore — noun [C] American an off licence …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”