Navigating the intricate regulations of California’s Alcohol Beverage Commission (ABC) can be bewildering, especially when it comes to obtaining permits for special events, one-day occasions, and private parties where alcohol will be served. So, what exactly are the rules governing liquor licenses in California for such events? Let’s delve into the details.

Understanding California’s Special Event Liquor License Laws

In California, serving alcohol typically necessitates a license or permit from the ABC, unless specific exemptions apply.

Exception for Private Parties

For events categorized as “private parties,” no license is required. But what constitutes a private party?

  • The event is not open to the public.
  • Attendance is by invitation only.
  • Alcohol is provided by the host, free of charge.
  • No admission, bar, or other fees are charged to attendees.

Determining Your Event’s Nature

To ascertain whether a license is needed, consider the nature of your event:

  • It must be private, with restricted access to invited guests only.
  • The host must provide all alcohol, free of charge.
  • There should be no admission cost or venue requirement for an ABC permit.

If these criteria are met, it’s considered a private party, and no license is necessary.

Obtaining a Special Event Permit

For non-private events where alcohol will be provided, an ABC Event Permit (ABC 218) is required. This permit allows alcohol to be furnished and served. It’s obtained through a licensed catering company at least 10 days before the event.

1-Day Liquor License Permit for Businesses

Standalone 1-day permits are not available for businesses, only for nonprofit organizations.

Becoming a Catering Company for the ABC 218 Application

Unfortunately, businesses cannot become catering companies solely for permit purposes. Catering companies must already hold a liquor license.

Licensure/Certification of Bartenders

Individual bartender licensure or certification does not fulfill permit requirements. A liquor license is still needed.

Options for Liquor Catering Companies

Local companies offer liquor catering services, with fees varying depending on the type of alcohol served.

Fee Structure

  • Beer and Wine: $50.00/day
  • General (includes beer, wine & distilled spirits): $75.00/day
  • Special Temporary License: $100.00

Application Requirements

Detailed in the ABC’s application process, including submission deadlines and necessary forms.

Qualified Organizations

Certain organizations are eligible for licenses based on their charitable, civic, or religious status.

Police Department Approval

May be required for events with large attendances or held in public areas.

Meeting Conditions

Issuance of the license may be subject to specific conditions regarding alcohol service.

In Conclusion

Understanding the nuances of California’s one-day liquor license requirements is essential for anyone planning to serve alcohol at events. Remember, regulations may vary, so always consult the appropriate authorities for the latest information.