Ever run to your favorite liquor store only to find it closed when most businesses are open? Ever get surprised when a bar seems to close early? Ever wonder why you can’t order a cocktail on Sunday morning without food along with it?
Texas law governs when establishments that hold liquor licenses or permits can be open for business, but the rules about hours of sale are not the same across the board for retailers. To help clear up some of the confusion, we have illustrated here what the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code has to say about hours and alcohol for sales of on-premises consumption.
On-Premises Retailers: Bars, Restaurants, & Others
Bars and restaurants with a full bar (including distilled spirits) hold Mixed Beverage Permits. For a quick review of the types of permits and licenses held by establishments who sell alcohol for on-premises consumption check out our blog describing those permits or download our permit summary.
On-premises retailers have to keep two time restrictions in mind: hours of sale and hours of consumption.
Hours of Sale: Monday - Saturday: 7 a.m. to Midnight
Sunday: 12 a.m. to 1 a.m., 10 a.m.* to Midnight
Exceptions: *Sunday Brunch
Alcohol sold for consumption at the establishment can generally be sold from 7 a.m. until midnight. On Saturday night (early Sunday morning), however, sales for on-premises consumption can continue selling until 1 a.m. on Sunday morning.
While the late night can creep into Sunday morning, the mid-morning brunch sales are restricted. Service of alcohol between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Sunday morning is only authorized if the alcohol is provided during the service of food.
Extended Hours in Certain Areas
In certain areas, on-premises retailers have the option to request an additional permit or license that will allow them to sell alcohol later into the night/early morning — 2 a.m. In some cities the availability of this Late Hours Permit or license is automatic. In others, it can be available, but only after action is taken by the local government.
Late Hours Always Available in Certain Large Cities & Counties
In cities and counties that meet certain minimum population requirements, the holder of an On-Premises Retail Permit may stay open until 2 a.m. every night of the week if the Texas liquor license or permit holder obtains a secondary “Late Hours” permit or license in addition to the basic permit. Areas that meet these requirements are called “Extended Hours Areas.”
As of April 2019, the following cities and counties meet the following criteria:
Want to know more about these population requirements? See Sections 105.03 and 105.05 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
What about everywhere else? In cities or counties outside of the Extended Hours Areas, the extended time frame is available, but only after local approval. Within the city limits that means that the city’s governing authority must pass an ordinance and in areas outside the city limits the county’s commissioner’s court must adopt an order authorizing the extended hours in the area. If you are wondering what hours are available in your area, call the city secretary (also called city clerk, town secretary, town clerk, etc. depending on the city or town) if you are in the city limits and call the county clerk if you are not.
Hours of Consumption
As you can imagine, selling alcohol outside of the prescribed hours will get you in trouble with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), or any law enforcement agency for that matter. On-premises retailers, however, must additionally be cognizant of the laws restricting the hours of consumption at a licensed premises.
In short, alcohol cannot be consumed on a TABC-licensed premises more than 15 minutes after the hours of sale have ended. For example, in an Extended Hours Area, a bar with a Mixed Beverage Permit and Mixed Beverage Late Hours Permit is authorized to sell alcohol until 2 a.m. That means that the establishment can allow patrons to consume alcohol on the premises until 2:15 a.m.
Are we just talking about the public here? No. This applies to everyone. If the staff wants to sit around and have a beer together after work, take the party elsewhere to a location that is not a licensed premises — someone’s home, for example.
Disclaimer: Nothing in our articles or on our website is legal advice and should not be taken as such. Please address all legal questions to your counsel. While our team is not a law firm, we can refer you as needed.