Most bars are constantly looking for new ways to increase their revenue stream, and moving into the realm of the off sale liquor market is usually one of the first things that enters the mind of an owner. It can be very tempting to cash in on this type of business because it can mean more sales both in your bar and from your cooler or liquor shelf. However, there are unique challenges that offering off sale liquor brings to the table, so this concept should be considered carefully before you make an investment with your time and money.

For those who aren’t aware, “off sale” liquor means that you sell beer, wine, or bottles of liquor to be taken off site for consumption. This is the type of liquor license that a regular liquor store needs to have in order to sell their products. “On sale” liquor is the type of license that a bar or nightclub must possess to serve drinks to their customer. It is possible to have both, and we’ll look at some of the pros and cons of that decision below.


Obviously, you can bring in some more business if you offer off sale liquor to your customers; and that means more revenues. The real bonus is that you can get your customers to buy a six pack of beer before they leave the bar to bring home. On the flipside, you can get customers to sit down at your bar simply because they popped in to grab a bottle of gin. Featuring off sale liquor can get more customers in the door and increase their average bill size, and those two things can make you money.


Though the financial end of things is very appealing, you also need to consider the challenges. First off, you need to buy an additional liquor license in order to sell off sale liquor. If you live in a fairly large town or city, there are probably liquor stores that can offer their beer and liquor for cheaper so it may be hard to cover the expense of such a license with sales. Theft can also become a problem that you need to monitor because often times bars will utilize their bartender as the shopkeeper for the liquor store portion of the business and that can be nearly impossible on a busy Saturday night.

When It Makes Sense

So how do you know if investing in an off sale liquor license is right for your bar? If you are the only bar in a very small town that doesn’t have its own liquor store, then you have a big opportunity. People will have no choice in a pinch if they want to buy beer or liquor, so you will make a killing. Also, if your bar is near a bank of hotels that don’t have a liquor store nearby, off sale liquor is a popular choice among travelers. As long as there is a large enough market and you don’t have any real direct competition, off sale liquor can be good for your business and increase the profitability of your bar.