Imagine this: You’ve spent nine months planning your perfect wedding day. You booked the venue; you paid the deposit. You followed up with the venue. You paid XYZ vendors and your credit card bill is looming. You booked your cousin’s friend from Iceland to be the deejay. You have the perfect dress, and it fits. Your bridesmaids and groomsmen are all getting along, and all your friends and relatives are coming from far and wide to celebrate this momentous day. What could possibly go wrong?
We know something is going to go wrong. It’s the nature of a big event. Will there be ants in the punch bowl? Will the catering be cold? Will Uncle Thomas get drunk and fall into the cake? Will the flower girl get stung by a bee and cry her eyes out through the ceremony? Will the “licensed” bartender you booked off Craigslist with the cute vintage horse trailer suddenly get fined by the ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) Board for serving alcohol without a permit?
Wait, what!? Is that a thing?
Yes, it is. It’s pretty severe too. Not only can you and the venue get fined for serving alcohol without a permit, but the ABC Board can also shut down your party or wedding! It’s not pretty. But have no fear; we are here to fix the situation. We have a permit to serve alcohol and a catering permit. We know about the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and are fully compliant with their rules and regulations. We even have a pink license framed on our office wall to prove it. Make sure you ask all of your caterers and bartenders to show you their permits if they are serving alcohol. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Here’s what you need to know to throw an ABC-compliant event:
If your venue is not entirely private (ie: enclosed with a door or a bouncer with strict adherence to your guest list) and an uninvited guest could walk in and participate (ie: wedding crasher), you need a permit. If there is any cash changing hands for alcohol (ie: your bar is not completely open and drinks are not 100% on you), you need a permit. If the venue you are throwing your party at is not a private residence, you need a permit. So pretty much free drinks at your private estate, you’re good. Anything else: you need a permit.
Restaurants, hotels, and licensed caterers usually hold liquor licenses and can apply for ABC event permits in locations outside of their place of business. However, only businesses with liquor licenses can apply for an ABC event permit. The ABC license owner files a request and pays a fee to the ABC with the event date, location, event sponsor, hours, and guest count for the specific event. Once approved, the permit must be on-site during the catered event. This can take up to ten days, so make sure your vendors are already licensed and aware of this.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a “licensed bartender.” Companies are ABC-licensed, not bartenders. Ask for their ABC liquor license if a bartender says they are licensed. They might show you a certificate from a training program which is nice, but it’s not a liquor license, and you can get severely fined for serving alcohol in a public place with a piece of paper that says you know how to make a cosmopolitan. Many “licensed bartenders” get away with operating without a permit because they never serve liquor in the same place twice and don’t get caught. Trust us, you don’t want to be the hostess with the mostess problems on that one unlucky day they get caught.
The best way to throw an event that is 100% foolproof is to hire ABC-compliant vendors, which we are! And that’s everything you need to know about throwing an ABC-compliant event!