Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issues guidance on alcoholic beverages to-go

Jan 5, 2022

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has issued guidance on the newly enacted SB 389 (Dodd, 2021), which permits certain businesses to sell alcoholic beverages to-go.

SB 389 allows off-sale rights for establishments that already hold an on-sale license for a “bona fide public eating place”, a licensed beer or wine manufacturer, or a licensed craft distiller that operates a “bona fide public eating place” at its production site. The law is slightly different from the previous pandemic regulatory relief, which expired on Dec. 31, 2021.

Under SB 389, those businesses may sell distilled spirits in manufacturer-sealed containers, such as a bottle or can, for off-site consumption. Beverages must be picked up directly from the premises by the consumer, who must present an ID to verify that they are of legal age and are the person who placed the order. Additionally, those businesses may sell distilled spirits and single-serve wine that are not in manufacturer-sealed containers for off-site consumption if the following conditions are met:

  • It is sold in conjunction with a “bona fide meal,” which the department defines on their website.
  • It is picked up at the premises by the consumer who ordered it.
  • Proper identification is provided.
  • The beverage is packaged in a container with a secure lid or cap that is sealed in a manner designed to prevent consumption without the seal being broken, among other specified requirements.

Notably, beer cannot be sold in a nonmanufacturer-sealed container. Businesses must notify the department via an online tool of their intent to sell alcohol in nonmanufacturer-sealed containers before doing so. Delivery of the alcoholic beverages authorized under this bill is expressly prohibited, including those made by third-party delivery services.

The guidance established by SB 389 is scheduled to end on Jan. 1, 2027. More information, including required signage and container requirements, can be found on the department’s website. For questions email Public Safety Lobbyist Elisa Arcidiacono.