Off-Site Alcohol Service by Florida Retailers
Alcoholic beverage retailers–including bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, and distilleries–are often asked to provide off-site alcohol service–catering–for a range of events. In Florida, there are a limited number of ways in which an alcohol retailer can participate in providing alcohol service away from its licensed premises.
Option 1: Sales to Private Party for Open Bar
Alcohol retailers that have a license that permits sales for consumption off premises can supply a private party to host an open bar event. For instance a wine or beer bottle shop with a 2APS license can provide all the beer or wine to be served by the host at a wedding reception. The same is true for a bar, restaurant, brewery or winery with a 2COP license. Each of these retailers can sell wine or beer in cans, bottles, or kegs, and they can provide keg service equipment. Even a craft distillery gift shop can sell to a private party bottled liquor, now in unlimited quantities under the recently changed craft distillery law.
However, this option does not permit two activities: First, the alcohol retailer cannot provide bartending service for the event. Second, the host of the event cannot resell the alcohol at the event–open bar only.
Option 2: Sales to an Licensed Alcohol Caterer
Alcohol retailers that have an off-premises consumption license can sell alcohol to the holder of a 13CT alcohol catering license. See Florida Statutes Section 561.20(2)(a)5. Generally, one licensed retailer is not permitted to purchase alcohol from another licensed retailer. One of the few exceptions to this rule is a licensed alcohol caterer (requirements for acting as an alcohol caterer are discussed below). Licensed alcohol caterers are permitted to purchase alcohol directly from a retailer that is licensed to sell alcohol to individuals for off-premises consumption.
Licensed alcohol caterers are permitted to operate a cash bar at a private event (assuming compliance with other state laws and local ordinances). After the event, the alcohol caterer is required to leave the remaining alcohol with its private customer or return unopened alcohol to the retailer, provided the retailer will accept the return.
Under this option, the alcohol retailer again is not permitted to provide bartending service for the event, but the alcohol caterer can provide this service.
Option 3: Sales for a Non-Profit Event
Similar to Option 2, alcohol retailers that have an off-premises license can sell alcohol to a non-profit organization or municipality for a permitted non-profit event. Non-profit organizations and municipalities are eligible to obtain a One, Two, or Three Day Permit (ODP) from the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT). See Florida Statutes Section 561.422. The ODP permit allows the organizer of a non-profit event to serve or sell beer, wine, or liquor at the event (assuming compliance with other state laws and local ordinances). Like the licensed alcohol caterer, the ODP event organizer is permitted to purchase alcohol directly from an alcohol retailer with an off-premises consumption license.
The non-profit event host is permitted to reseller alcohol at the event. Presumably, the alcohol retailer is permitted to provide bartending services to the event host (no provision of the Florida Beverage Law or regulations seems to prohibit this). However, all net profits from sales of alcoholic beverages at the event must be retained by the non-profit organization.
Option 4: Alcohol Catering with a 13CT License
As discussed above, the holder of a 13CT alcohol catering license is permitted to sell and serve alcohol at a catered event. A licensed alcohol retailer can hold a 13CT alcohol catering license and provide catering services directly in certain circumstances.
To obtain a 13CT alcohol catering license, the retailer must first have a public food service (PFS) license issued by the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants. That is, the retailer must be licensed as a restaurant, mobile food vehicle, or food caterer.
A retailer with a 13CT alcohol catering license may sell alcohol (beer, wine, or liquor) at events for which it also provides the food catering. Moreover, the retailer must derive at least 51% of its gross food and beverage revenue from the sale of food and nonalcoholic beverages at each catered event. A 13CT licensed alcohol caterer cannot sell only alcohol at the event.
See also Working with Beverage Caterers.
Option 5: Alcohol Catering with a Quota License
A retailer with a 4COP or 3PS quota license is also permitted to sell and serve alcohol at a catered event. Importantly, this does not include a restaurant that holds a 4COP-SFS license, which prohibits sales for consumption off-premises (although such a restaurant could hold a separate 13CT license).
Unlike a 13CT licensed alcohol caterer, a quota licensed retailer is not required to derive at least 51% of its revenue from the sale of food and nonalcoholic beverages at each event. However, each catered event must have prepared food is provided by a caterer by the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants.
Do you have any questions about off-site alcohol service by Florida retailers? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with a beverage attorney.
Because we’re attorneys: Disclaimer.