3 Surprising New York Liquor Laws That Baffle Out-of-Towners
The holiday season is in full swing, and for many New Yorkers that means one thing: it's time to stock up on booze. Here's the problem, though; there are some absolutely ridiculous laws in the state if you want to buy the hard stuff.
For locals, many of these regulations have become nuisances that we've grown accustomed to, but for anyone visiting from out-of-state, they can be flat-out frustrating. Let's start with the most famous.
Dumb NY Law #1: Stores that Sell Beer Can't Sell Wine & Liquor
When I first walked into a CVS in California, I was absolutely mesmerized. Giant, gleaming bottles of whisky and vodka were there to greet me at the door. I thought I was seeing something wild and unique - a drugstore that sells liquor! - but in fact, New York is the exception to the rule.
New York is one of the only states in the country that separates the sale of beer and the sale of wine & liquor. While grocery stores can sell beer, they can't sell wine and liquor. The same thing goes for liquor stores; they can't sell beer... and it gets even weirder.
Dumb NY Law #2: Wine & Liquor Stores Can ONLY Sell Wine & Liquor
I was rudely reminded of this absolutely confusing law when I was trying to track down a special almond syrup to make my first Mai Tai. I drove all over town trying to track down the mixer when (I thought) I had a brilliant idea: check the liquor store! Nope.
Not only was I reminded by an employee at a local Newburgh, NY store that it was against the law for them to sell anything non-alcoholic (soda, margarita mix, my special orgeat syrup), but they added insult to injury. "You're not from around here, are you?", they asked. SORRY THAT I FORGOT WE LIVE IN A STATE THAT WILL SELL RUM BUT NOT COKE.
Dumb NY Law #3: You Can Only Buy Liquor at Certain Hours
The third law that separates us from other states is the time that you can buy liquor. While we thankfully have moved past the total ban of wine & liquor sales on Sundays, special sale hours still exist.
Currently, beer sales are legal 24 hours a day, but wine & liquor is different. Liquor can be sold between 8am and midnight Monday-Saturday and 12pm-9pm on Sundays. A sliver of good news is that a current bill has recently passed in the New York State senate to increase Sunday sale hours to 10am-9pm. Unsurprisingly, liquor isn't the only subject of weird laws in New York...