Five Liquor Law Changes in DC You Should Know About

DC Beer Week celebrates local breweries. Photograph by Scott Suchman

It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago DC liquor stores closed on Sundays, grocery stores couldn’t sell growlers, and distilleries couldn’t offer tastes of their spirits on-site. District liquor laws have changed substantially year after year. And effective today, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration announced even more changes that will make it easier to drink alcohol in more ways from more places. Here are the five things you should know:

1. Grocery stores can now sell growlers of wine, cider, and mead.

Previously, they were only allowed to sell beer in growler form.

2. Brewpubs can sell more than just growlers. 

Now, brewpubs (hybrid restaurant-breweries) can sell beer in cans, kegs, bottles, or other sealed containers. Meanwhile, distilleries and wineries will be able to sell cans and kegs, not just barrels and bottles.

3. Distilleries can serve more products that aren’t their own. 

Up until now, the law required that cocktails at distillery bars primarily contain spirits made at the facility. That meant a distillery producing only gin couldn’t serve a negroni because two-thirds of the alcohol content is vermouth and Campari. That rule is now gone. Distilleries can now mix cocktails using whatever spirits they want.

4. Your military ID will get you into a bar.

As long as it has your name, birthday, and photo, a bouncer won’t turn you away.

5. Bed and breakfasts can now serve alcohol.

There’s a new license for bed and breakfasts with less than 30 guest rooms that allows them to serve alcohol to guests as part of a room fee. In addition, hotels in DC can now get a license that lets them sell beer and wine to guests from a store inside the hotel. In the past, they could only sell alcohol from restaurants, bars, or minibars.



Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.