Virginia ABC > Licenses > Retail Resources > Mixed Beverage License Overview

Mixed Beverage License Overview

In addition to the basic rules that apply to all Virginia ABC retail licenses, there are additional instructions that apply to establishments that operate under a mixed beverage license. This page provides an overview of these instructions.

The provisions of the law pertaining to wine and beer are applicable to the handling of mixed beverages unless such provisions are expressly inapplicable or are plainly inconsistent with the mixed beverage laws.

All employees should be fully acquainted with these instructions.

For additional guidance about specific topics, please explore Virginia ABC’s licensee resources online or contact your special agent.


In no circumstance, shall the number of individual seats at free-standing tables and in booths be less than the number of individual seats at counters.

A counter is defined as having a flat top surface supported by legs, a pedestal or a solid base, designed to accommodate the serving of food and refreshments (though such food and refreshments need not necessarily be served together) and to provide seating for customers.


Meals cooked or prepared on the premises must be furnished regularly and habitually to persons in dining rooms and such meals must be available during substantially all hours mixed beverages are offered for sale in such rooms. Food and nonalcoholic beverage sales must account for at least 45 percent of the gross sales of mixed beverages and food.

Food prepared on the premises must be available in designated rooms at all times mixed beverages are offered for sale in these rooms.

Hours of sales

Mixed beverages may not be sold or permitted to be consumed on licensed premises other than at such times as wine or beer may be sold and consumed. Original closed containers of spirits may be sold in hotels and motels only during such hours.


All alcoholic beverages to be sold as mixed beverages or in closed containers must have been purchased from Virginia ABC, except merchandise to be sold on carriers which may be obtained under special procedures.

Purchase of alcoholic beverages from Virginia ABC for resale under a mixed beverage license must be made on purchase order forms to be provided without cost by the Virginia ABC Board and in accordance with the instructions contained in such forms. The prices will be those prevailing at the government stores. Payment must be made by cash, certified check, money order, cashier's check, credit card or a valid check drawn on a bank account in the name of the licensee or in the trade name of the licensee.

Merchandise not available at government stores may be ordered specially from Virginia ABC in accordance with the rules applicable to such orders.


Alcoholic beverages purchased from Virginia ABC for resale under a mixed beverage license may be transported to the establishment of the purchasing licensee under the purchase order form, executed by an agent of the Board and placed in an approved place for storage, pending withdrawal for use in the establishment.


Alcoholic beverages purchased for resale under a mixed beverage license must be stored in a separate and secured place designated for that purpose on the premises and may be withdrawn only as needed. Only a licensee or duly authorized employees may withdraw merchandise from such a place of storage.

Alcoholic beverages purchased for resale under the mixed beverage license may not be removed from the licensed premises except upon a permit issued by Virginia ABC.

As a general rule, mixed beverage licensees operating establishments other than hotels, resort complexes including motels, and clubs may not keep or allow to be kept upon their licensed premises any alcoholic beverages, or beverages they are not authorized to sell. The only exceptions to this rule are culinary alcoholic beverages, which may be kept and used in such places under special permits issued by Virginia ABC, and personal alcoholic beverages of persons attending certain types of private parties.


The mixed beverage stamps on containers of spirits purchased from the Board for resale under a mixed beverage license must be imprinted thereon the purchase order number and the license number of the retailer, if such has not already been done. Immediately upon emptying a container of spirits, the mixed beverage stamp must be obliterated.


Mixed beverages may not be prepared in advance but only pursuant to a customer's order, except that mixed beverages may be premixed in frozen drink dispensers of types approved by Virginia ABC as well as other premixing options.


Mixed beverages may be made only from alcoholic beverages packaged in their original containers, and, except as noted for hotels, resort complexes, and motels herein, no original bottle may be delivered to a consumer, whether the closure be broken or unbroken. Any dispenser used must include the original container as a part of the device, except for frozen drink dispensers (see “Premixing”).


Do not engage in any form of advertising which is prohibited by ABC regulations.

Representatives of manufacturers of distilled spirits may solicit mixed beverage licensees to sell or offer for sale distilled spirits only in a manner prescribed by ABC regulation. Contact your special agent for further details.

Happy hour may not be conducted during the hours of 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. each day. “Happy hour” is defined as a specified period of time during which alcoholic beverages are sold at prices reduced from the customary price established by the licensee.


A mixed beverage may not contain beer, and a customer may not be served a brand of any alcoholic beverage different from that ordered by him. The contents of an original bottle of alcoholic beverage may not be diluted or otherwise tampered with and empty bottles may not be refilled or partly refilled.

Age of employees

Minor employees under 18 years of age may not be permitted to sell, serve or dispense any alcoholic beverages in any manner for consumption on the licensed premises. Persons under 21 years of age may not be allowed to prepare or mix or serve any customer any alcoholic beverages in the capacity of a bartender.


A licensee may not consume nor allow the consumption of any mixed beverage or other alcoholic beverage by any employee of the establishment while on duty.


A licensee may not be intoxicated while on duty nor may an employee be on the licensed premises while intoxicated.


Complete, accurate and separate records must be maintained covering purchases and sales of foods and nonalcoholic beverages as well as purchases and sales of alcoholic beverages, particularly alcoholic beverages sold as mixed beverages by the drink and in original, closed containers. Sales tickets in particular should show separately the type or types of food and nonalcoholic beverages sold and the type or types of alcoholic beverages sold.


No more than two spirits drinks may be served to a patron at a time.

Revised February 26, 2015

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Need Help?

Special agents are the primary resource for questions related to operating a business with an ABC license. Contact a special agent via your regional ABC office.
The information on this page is meant for general guidance only. For specific questions, contact your ABC special agent. To view ABC laws and regulations, visit Virginia’s Legislative Information System.