Liquor store

A liquor store dore is the American and Canadian name for a type of convenience store which specializes in the sale of alcoholic beverages in the countries where its consumption is strongly regulated. In alcoholic beverage control (ABC) states, liquor stores often sell only distilled spirits or sometimes sell distilled spirits and wine but not beer. ABC-run stores may be called ABC stores.

In the UK and Ireland the corresponding term is Off-licence, which may refer to a shop selling mostly alcohol, or to part of larger shop.

Regions in which sale of alcohol is restricted to liquor stores

(Conditions and exceptions noted.)


  • Australia - Regulation of alcoholic beverage sales is a state responsibility. Generally, beer, wine, and liquor must be purchased at a dedicated bottle shop, colloquially known as a bottle-o in some states. These may be a separate section of a supermarket or an individual store - major retail corporations usually have their own bottle shop franchises located in close proximity to their supermarket operations. Drinking establishments may also sell liquor for off-site consumption. Drive thru alcoholic retail outlets are common. The state of Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory permit the sale of alcoholic beverages from supermarkets and convenience stores, however this is rare in practice due to a prohibition on the serving of alcohol by persons under the age of 18. In other states, attempts have been made to make alcoholic beverages available from a greater variety of retail outlets, but these have been repeatedly defeated, primarily due to the lobbying of the clubs, hotels and pubs industry (who have vast gambling revenues), as well as the pressure of lobby groups who perceive that a more widespread availability of alcoholic beverages will increase the opportunity for harmful levels of alcohol consumption.
  • New Zealand - Supermarkets and convenience stores may sell beer and wine only. Liquor must be purchased at dedicated bottle shops.

Nordic countries

Note: All Nordic countries, except Denmark, have government-owned alcohol monopolies.

  • Finland - Grocery stores may sell beer and other alcoholic beverages of less than 4.7% alcohol by volume (ABV), if the alcohol is produced by fermentation. All other alcohol must be purchased in the Alko store.
  • Iceland - Can only be bought at hard liquor stores. Vínbúð stores.
  • Norway - Alcoholic beverages above 4.8% ABV can only be bought at Vinmonopolet stores.
  • Sweden - Grocery stores may sell beer less than 3.5% ABV, all other alcohol must be purchased in the state-run Systembolaget stores.


  • Poland - All Supermarkets, convenience stores and gas stations may sell beer and wine. Liquor may only be purchased at supermarkets or dedicated bottle shops.

United States

See: Alcohol laws of the United States by state

The majority of the U.S. states have laws specifying which alcoholic beverages must be sold in specialty liquor stores, and which may be sold in other venues. In five states (Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah), only low-point beer may be sold in supermarkets or gas stations. In eighteen alcoholic beverage control states, the specialty liquor stores are run exclusively by the state government. In Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada, however, all alcoholic beverages can be sold practically anywhere, including drug stores and gas stations.


Note: All provinces except Alberta have government-owned retail liquor monopolies. British Columbia has both private and government-owned retail liquor outlets. However, due to Federal law, all provincial liquor boards must act as first importer of alcoholic beverages.

  • Alberta - Only liquor stores may sell alcoholic beverages in urban areas, but unlike other provinces they are all privately owned and operated. Recently the province has allowed supermarkets to open attached liquor stores, but with separate entrances. In areas without another liquor retailer within a 15 km radius, any licensed retailer may sell beer, wine, and liquor, including convenience stores, general stores, and gasoline (petrol) stations. The AGLC has retained its monopoly over the wholesaling of imported beer, wine and distilled spirits, although the distribution of these products is done by a private contractor.
  • British Columbia - Only stores owned by pubs or hotels (as the primary license holder) and in the same jurisdiction, government owned stores, and rural government appointed liquor agencies may sell beer, wine, and liquor. There are also VQA wine stores which are privately owned and sell only BC wines that have the VQA designation. Also, there are a limited number of private wine shops which can sell both BC and non-BC wines.
  • Manitoba - Only hotels may sell chilled domestic beer. Beer, Wine, and Liquor only sold by government owned Liquor Marts. There are also a limited number of private wine retailers in Manitoba as well.
  • New Brunswick - Only government owned liquor stores or rural government appointed liquor agencies may sell beer, wine, and liquor. However, breweries and cottage wineries may sell directly to the public if licensed to do so.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador - Convenience Stores may sell beer that is brewed locally. Wine, liquor and imported beer is only sold by government owned liquor stores, or rural government appointed liquor agencies.
  • Nova Scotia - In the past, only the provincially-owned NSLC (Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation) could sell liquor products, including hard liquor, wine, and beer. Many NSLC locations are connected to grocery stores. Over the past five years, the NSLC has began to allow a limited number of small private agency stores to operate in rural areas where there is not a NSLC location.
  • Ontario - Predominantly foreign-owned and operated Brewers Retail Inc. (operating as The Beer Store) is the only privately owned entity that can sell beer. Only the provincially-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) may sell hard liquor or wine, though it also sells beer, particularly in small markets that Brewers Retail does not serve. There are also a limited number of privately owned specialty wine stores: Wine Rack, run by Vincor International and Vineyards Estate Wines, run by Andres Wines. Breweries and wineries are also permitted to sell their own products on the site that the products were made.
  • Prince Edward Island - Only government owned liquor stores may sell beer, wine, and liquor.
  • Québec - Only the provincially-owned Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) may sell hard liquor. Wine (that is bottled in Quebec) and beer (that is brewed in Quebec or imported beer that is distributed by a local brewer) can be purchased at dépanneurs (corner stores) and supermarkets.
  • Saskatchewan - Only government owned stores, rural private government liquor agencies (private contractors), and hotels may sell beer, wine and liquor.

Other uses

For the Hawaiian convenience store chain, see ABC Stores (Hawaii)


External links

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