Complimentary wine?

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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Have you given complimenary cocktails? or wine or after dinner drinks?

We won't have a liquor license but would like to offer a complimenary bottle of wine or water on checkin.   Something we think will give us a slight edge in a town of dozens of B&Bs. 

I believe complimenary means gift and doesn't require a liquor license.

Any thoughts? 

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Proud Texan's picture
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I talked to our state alcoholic beverage office and if we advertise complimentary beverages of any sort, then we are obliged to offer a complimentary beverages to whomever request them whether they are paying guest or not. This is a non-issue for us because we are so remote.

However, for our special packages, we advertise a "Sparkling Beverage", which could mean anything from Dr. Pepper to something a "little stronger". When a package is sold, we ask the guests what they want and take it from there.

This thread has me thinking that maybe we should stop serving anything stronger than cider just to be on the safe side.  If a guest wants something stronger, then they can bring it themselves.

Arks's picture
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Proud Texan wrote:

This thread has me thinking that maybe we should stop serving anything stronger than cider just to be on the safe side.  If a guest wants something stronger, then they can bring it themselves.

That's what I do. I have a BYBO PDF attachment that automatically goes out with the "your reservation is 3 days away" e-mail. It lets people know they'll need to bring their own, and gives a map from my guesthouse to the nearest liquor store. And for those guests who don't know what a PDF is, I also touch on the subject in the body of the "3 days" e-mail itself.

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Kay Nein's picture
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Our city will not allow us to serve complimentary wine.  We have to either have a liquor license or apply for an event permit from city/state&county and hire a licensed pourer.  We hosted a chamber networking event where a local winery wanted to donate bottles for our attendees to drink.  Nope, couldn't do that. 

Joey Camb's picture
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in the uk even if you give it away it is considered part of the room rate and therefore you are selling it - its that simple and require a liscence

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Arks's picture
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I just hate how it has to be here. A few years ago we stayed at an agriturismo in Italy and on arrival they handed us TWO BOTTLES of the great wine they make there at their vineyard. A few days later we arrived at a small hotel (the only one in town) in a village and rather than offering a bottle of water, the hotel owner's daughter brought out 2 carafes of their own local wine.

I may have been born in the wrong country, or at least in the wrong century!

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I agree, Arks.  And now I want to go back to Italy!  Thanks a lot!  Smiling

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Check your local liquor licensing/serving requirements.  It can vary within a State from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. 

As others are saying, serving is serving....regardless of whether you charge for alcohol or not.

Businesses in my city were not even allowed to have alcohol on site unless they had a liquor license until they passed a new regulation 2 years ago!! 

And then there are the insurance implications....

muirford's picture
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I am not advising you to do it.  But, I recently sat in on a discussion at a state B&B meeting with a representative of the LCB (not the head honcho, though, one of the lackeys and not particularly impressive) who said you cannot have it without a license, but in truth, if you don't have a liquor license, the state LCB is unlikely to have you on their radar and won't ever notice.  Unless someone turns you in - which if you are in a competitive B&B environment and plan to use free wine as an enticement, might happen. And if you have a guest who has a drink and hurts somebody with their car that evening, you're in a huge amount of hurt, probably from a civil and criminal liability.

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06/26/2008

You got that right. In city near us there was a lawsuit few years back where employer was found partly responsible for injury after Christmas Party where they served alcohol.

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muirford wrote:

I am not advising you to do it.  But, I recently sat in on a discussion at a state B&B meeting with a representative of the LCB (not the head honcho, though, one of the lackeys and not particularly impressive) who said you cannot have it without a license, but in truth, if you don't have a liquor license, the state LCB is unlikely to have you on their radar and won't ever notice.  Unless someone turns you in - which if you are in a competitive B&B environment and plan to use free wine as an enticement, might happen. And if you have a guest who has a drink and hurts somebody with their car that evening, you're in a huge amount of hurt, probably from a civil and criminal liability.

In other words, you can't post it all over your website if you were to do it, it would have to be discreet. I know in Asheville NC many of the inns have cocktail or wine hour in the evenings, I wonder what they do there. 

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Same here - need license and not gonna do it. I give splits of WV Sparkling Cider so no license required and no offending teetotalers nor tempting those on the wagon.

Arks's picture
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Could not do it in Arkansas without a liquor license. The control board's logic is this: even if it's a free gift, it's not really free. The income from the business allowed you to buy it and serve it, so the guests are still paying. And the main problem there is that the state wants their cut (taxes) when the guest is paying for it. It's all about the tax money. If you give it away, the state doesn't get its money!

TheBeachHouse's picture
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Actually, they got the tax money when I bought the wine.  Smiling

But I see your point.

Arks's picture
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TheBeachHouse wrote:

Actually, they got the tax money when I bought the wine.  Smiling

Doesn't work that way in Arkansas. They tax it twice, by law!

A couple of years ago I was thinking of getting a B&B alcohol permit (our state has a special permit for B&Bs that costs less/year than for bars and restaurants) and I went to the training by the alcohol control board. They said once you get your license, you must buy all your supplies at the local liquor store and pay sales tax like everybody else. Then when you sell it at your B&B you must tax it and pay that in to the state.

A guy in the class raised his hand and said, "But, but...your taxing it TWICE!" The class instructor looked him in the eye and said, "Cry me a river." In other words, you do it THEIR way, or you don't get to play the game.

Madeleine's picture
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Check the liquor laws! 'Complimentary' means one thing to us and a whole other thing to the state licensing dept.

 

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05/22/2008

You MUST check on your own state alcohol regulations. And you must also check with your insurance. In VA, you MUST have a B & B Liquor license to do anything with wine in the B & B. It doesn't matter if it is complimentary or not! Our insurance REQUIRED we not do alcohol. Guests could bring their own but we could not provide it.

Have you taken an aspiring innkeeper class yet? I suggest you do so as soon as possible. Check with your state B & B assocation.

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10/07/2008

SERVING requires a license, not just selling, fyi

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