Virginia ABC > Licenses > Retail Resources > Mixed Beverage Overview

Mixed Beverage 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.


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.

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.
Consumption 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.
Containers 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”).
Contents 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.

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.

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

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.

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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. For step-by-step assistance in banquet licensing, see our Licensing Wizard.


Virginia ABC offers free online training to help managers, sellers and servers to become more responsible and better understand ABC laws, rules and regulations. For more information, contact Community Health & Prevention, (804) 977-7440 or [email protected].

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.