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Happy Hour Laws


Will I be able to offer "happy hour" specials by temporarily reducing the price of drinks at my establishment?


    Yes. Public Act 99-0046 which went into effect on July 15, 2015 permits licensees to offer discounted drinks for up to 4 hours per day, and not more than 15 hours per week.  The specified drink promotional period does not have to be for 4 consecutive hours.

What are the additional rules and restrictions on price reductions?


    Licensees must adhere to the following stipulations on price reductions on drinks:
  • Licensee must give notice of the discount of alcohol drinks on the licensee's premises or on their website 7 days prior to the specified drink promotion period.
  • Licensee shall not offer a specified drink promotion period between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and the licensed premise's closing hour.
  • Licensee shall not change the price of an alcoholic drink during a single drink promotion period.

When can I start reducing prices as part of happy hour?


    No earlier than 7 days after the license holder has given notice of the discount of alcoholic drinks at its licensed location or on its website.

Can I provide unlimited drinks for a single price?

    No. Drink limits are required unless the drinks are part of a meal / party package or private function.

Am I allowed to sell "meal packages" with food and alcohol? What does that entail?

    Yes. "Meal package" means a food and beverage package, which may or may not include entertainment, where the service of alcoholic liquor is an accompaniment to the food, including, but not limited to: a meal, tour, tasting, or any combination thereof for a fixed price by a retail licensee or any other licensee operating within a sports facility, restaurant, winery, brewery, or distillery.

Is there a limit to the number of drinks which may be served with a meal package?

    No. There is no limit to the number of drinks included with a meal package.

What is considered "food" for purposes of a meal package?

    Any food, including snacks and other so-called "finger food," that is available on the licensed premises as long as the food and alcoholic drinks are sold as a package for a fixed price.

Am I allowed to sell "party packages," such as wristband deals for a private event? What are the regulations?

    YES. "Party package" means a private party, function, or event for a specific social or business occasion, either arranged by invitation or reservation for a defined number of individuals, that is not open to the general public and where the attendees are served both food and alcohol for a fixed price in a DEDICATED EVENT space. In order to sell a party package, a business must:
  • Offer food in the dedicated event space.
  • Limit the party package to no more than 3 hours.
  • Distribute wristbands, lanyards, or shirts that designate party package attendees.
  • Exclude individuals not participating in the party package from the dedicated event space.
Is there a limit on the number of drinks which may be served with a party package?

    No. There is no limit to the number of drinks allowed to be included with a party package.

What is considered "food" for purposes of a party package?

    Any food, including snacks and other so-called "finger food," that is available on the licensed premises.

Private functions as defined in the Liquor Control Act have always been an exception to the prohibition on unlimited drinks; are private functions now limited to 3 hours?

    No. Private functions such as weddings, private parties, fund-raising functions, etc., where "guests in attendance are served in a room or rooms designated and used exclusively for the private party, function or event" (235 ILCS 5/1-3.36) are not subjected to a time limit.

How can alcoholic drinks be sold and served to a customer?
    1. You may serve two or more drinks to one customer at one time;
    2. You may not sell two or more drinks for the price of one drink;
    3. You must increase the price of a drink proportionately to an increase in the volume of the same drink.

      Example: The price of a 24 ounce draft of Brand X beer must cost twice as much as a 12 ounce draft of Brand X beer.

Can I sell or serve a pitcher, bottle, carafe, bucket, flight, or similar container to one person?


    Yes.


How does proportionate pricing apply to prices of a pitcher, bottle, carafe, bucket, flight, or similar container?

    Proportionate pricing applies to individual drinks, not to pitchers, bottles, carafes, buckets, flight or similar containers. As long as a price reduction is not equal to selling 2 or more alcoholic drinks for the price of one, a retailer is free to set any price for a pitcher, bottle, carafe, bucket, flight or similar container.


Can I permit or encourage drinking games or contests at my licensed premises?

    No.


Can I still offer daily drink specials?


    Yes, as long as the price of the drink special is listed on the mandatory schedule of drink prices.

May I advertise happy hour, meal packages, and party packages?

    Yes. Events permitted under the Liquor Control Act may be legally advertised.

May I advertise events and drink specials permitted under the Happy Hour law on social media?

    Yes. Social media advertising is allowed.

Adapted from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission FAQs on "happy hour" changes.

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