Liquor store in United States and Canada

United States

The Bunghole, a liquor store in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Twenty-first Amendment of the United States Constitution allows states to regulate the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. State regulations vary widely. 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 eighteen alcoholic beverage control states, the specialty liquor stores are owned and operated exclusively by the state government.

beer & wine

In five states (Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah), only low-point beer may be sold in supermarkets or gas stations. In some states (e.g., California, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin), 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. Urban gasoline (petrol) stations and convenience stores may also have attached liquor stores but with separate entrances and ownership. 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.

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