Will Cheek's Last Call Blog

A Blog About Alcohol and Beverage Law
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Restaurants and hotels get the green light to give away alcohol


Category: free samples, wine, beer, restaurants, hotels


Generations of restauranteurs and hoteliers have been told they cannot give away liquor. Since liquor by the drink was originally adopted in Tennessee in the late 1960s, it has been illegal to give away wine or spirits at any restaurant, hotel, entertainment venue or other on-premise outlet.

No more.

P.C. 755 allows any liquor by the drink establishment to serve a complimentary sample of wine.  TCA § 57-4-203(3)(2)(B) now provides that patrons can be given up to a one-ounce sample of wine.

The law is not clear about giving away more than one sample. The idea, as we see it, is you can pour a taste of wine to a customer, to see if he or she likes it. Can a customer preview more than one wine?  We do not believe that the law is intended to allow a customer to knock back a flight of 4 different wines, effectively allowing four ounces of wine to be given away.  Nor do we think it is legal to pour 4 one ounce “samples” of the same wine. 

As of this post, we have not heard of the ABC taking a position on the new law.

Keep in mind that you can give away beer until the cows come home. The law allows you to serve free beer. You cannot give away samples of spirits.

Subsection (A) of the new law also allows a hotel to provide up to four 750 milliliter or smaller complimentary sealed packages of wine or spirits. Please note that this provision is specifically available only to hotels. No other liquor by the drink licensee may give away bottles of wine or spirits.

The full text of P.C. 755 is available at this link.

Chili Peppers, the Red Hot kind, come to mind:

I'm a low brow but I rock a little know how
No time for the piggies or the hoosegow
Get smart get down with the pow wow
Never been a better time than right now
Give it away give it away give it away now

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Mr_uHJPUlO8" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Photo By Narek75 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46403502

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Original author: William T. Cheek III
Hospitality Law Update 2018, Vol. I
Restaurants and hotels get the green light to give...

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