What On and Off Premises Liquor Licenses Mean

On premise: This license is intended to allow customers to drink within a specifically designated area where servers can monitor the process of drinking. In this way they can prevent sales to minors and stop sales when someone is intoxicated. The license will usually specify the areas where people can drink–usually referred to as the “premises”. Sometimes the premises include a deck, sidewalk or garden area. These spaces must regularly monitor and controlled by the licensee. The key is the watchfulness of the server, security and bartender.

The Liquor Authority and police will look for situations where adequate monitoring is not possible. Low lighting is one. Large crowds with few servers is another. Sometimes special provisions are needed for unusual venues such an entertainment area.

Off-premise: This license is designed for customers who purchase alcohol and then take it somewhere else for consumption. This includes liquor stores, wine stores, grocery stores and pharmacies selling beer and wine products (not wine). This means the customer is taking it home or to a party at someone else’s residence. When customers buy alcohol—often in single serving sizes—and drink it immediately outside the store or in the immediate vicinity, the license is not being used as intended and can face disciplinary action by the Liquor Authority. The store does not have the capacity to monitor immediate consumption outside the premises nor do they have the training to do so.