Mayor Muriel Bowser signed new legislation on Monday, January 26 that will provide numerous changes to the District’s alcohol laws if approved by Congress.
While most of the provisions of the bill clarify language already on the books, several items would provide additional licensing options for District businesses.
This includes distilleries and wineries (class A manufacturers). Similar to breweries that sell pints, distilleries and wineries would be able to sell cocktails and glasses of wine to customers. The beverages would need to contain the products they manufacture. A distillery could also add additional liquor to a drink that is produced by another manufacturer so long as the drink is primarily made with their product. Both distilleries and wineries would need to obtain a permit from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to sell drinks. If approved by Congress, the new rules could impact four distilleries in the District. There are currently no wineries licensed in D.C.
Two new types of liquor licenses are also contained in the legislation.
The first is a festival license, which is designed for performing art events and sporting tournaments that span 5-15 days. The license would temporarily permit the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks at an event. Under the proposed law, an applicant could only obtain one festival license every three months. Two classes of the license would be available:
- Class H: Permits the sale and service of beer and wine; and
- Class I: Permits the sale and service of spirits, beer and wine.
A class H license would cost $1,000 while a class I license would cost $2,000.
The second new license is designated for alcohol-infused baked goods, such as cupcakes. A class C manufacturer’s license would permit bakeries to make alcohol-infused confections with a maximum of five percent of alcohol by volume. The license would also permit a manufacturer to sell the products to consumers who are at least 21 years of age or to other businesses that have alcoholic beverage licenses. Infused baked goods would need to be sold in sealed containers that meet all of the labeling requirements outlined in the bill. The cost of a class C manufacturer’s license would be $1,000.
The Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act of 2014 will now be under a 30-day Congressional review period. The complete bill (B20-0902) can be reviewed on the Council of the District of Columbia’s website.
All 2014 extended holiday hour registrations expired at the end of last year.
Restaurants, taverns, nightclubs, hotels and other on-premise establishments that want to participate in extended holiday hours during 2015 will need to complete new registration forms if they have not already done so.
While the deadline has passed to sign up to participate in Washington's Birthday on Monday, February 16, there's still time to register for D.C. Emancipation Day on Thursday, April 16. The deadline to do so is Wednesday, March 18.
During extended holiday hours, registered establishments can remain open until 4 a.m. and operate 24 hours a day during certain federal holidays and three-day holiday weekends. Once licensees are registered, they are able to participate in all eligible holidays in the calendar year.
Registration is free of charge. Establishments that have settlement agreements restricting closing hours are not eligible to participate. Visit ABRA’s website to learn more.
Restaurants, taverns, nightclubs and other on-premise establishments will automatically gain an additional hour to sell and serve alcoholic beverages during daylight saving time.
Under the law, on-premise establishments can sell and serve alcoholic beverages between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, March 8. On that same morning, clocks spring forward one hour from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.
There is no registration required to participate; however, establishments that have settlement agreements restricting closing hours are prohibited from participating.
ABC licensees and members of the public are invited to attend orientation training from 2-4 p.m. on Thursday, March 26 to review:
- District ABC laws and regulations (including any recent changes to the law)
- Tips for working effectively with the community
- Settlement Agreements
- Expectations of ABC licensees
- Best practices
- Noise abatement and sound management
Contact ABRA Community Resource Advisor Sarah Fashbaugh by Friday, March 20 to register:
Attendance for this class is strongly recommended for new ABC license holders. Training is free of charge. Requests for interpreters may be made; however, they must be submitted by the registration deadline.
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A variety of licenses will need to be renewed this spring.
Liquor stores; wholesalers permitted to sell beer, wine and spirits; and spirit manufacturers—all class A licensees—are due to renew alcoholic beverage licenses by Tuesday, March 31. The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) will mail renewal packets in mid-February.
Licensees should ensure they are in good corporate standing with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and that all outstanding taxes and fines are paid before renewing.
Payment for licenses can be made for the next three years or for one year only; however, payment is due at the time of renewal.
Annual payments are also due by Tuesday, March 31 from the following licensees:
- Restaurants (both D/R and C/R class licenses)
- Hotels (both D/H and C/H class licenses)
- Multipurpose facilities (both D/X and C/X class licenses)
Payment may be made by check or credit card.
LATE FEES APPLY
A late fee of $50 per day will be assessed for any late payments beginning Wednesday, April 1. Late fees may not to exceed the cost of the license.