Retail Liquor Advertising

Retail Liquor Advertising

Happy Hour

The advertising of “Happy Hour” is permitted.

Retailers cannot require the customer to purchase more than one drink at a time in order to receive a reduced price. This would include such advertising as “Two for the price of one,” “buy one, get one free,” etc. This type of advertising is considered to promote overconsumption. (WAC 314-52-110)

Retail licensees may offer reduced price drinks and special pricing, as long as it does not put the price below cost of acquisition.

Advertising of “Happy Hour” cannot promote over consumption. For example “Bottomless Margaritas,” “All you can drink,” etc.


Advertising may not refer to “free” or “complimentary,” regardless of whether or not it is combined with a meal or event.

Retailers may offer package deals. For example, “Included with your meal/room/event is a beverage of your choice,” “Dinner includes a bottle of wine,” “Included with your room is a bottle of champagne.” The cost of the meal, etc., must cover the cost of the alcoholic product.

Retailers cannot offer to treat customers as part of a promotion.


Industry members may not advance to a retailer, and a retailer may not receive from an industry member, money’s worth under any business practice or arrangement. An industry member is not obligated to provide any such branded promotional items, and a retailer may not require an industry member to provide such branded promotional items as a condition for selling any alcohol to the retailer.

A new exception allows branded promotional items of nominal value, singly or in the aggregate. Items that may be provided include:

  • Trays, lighters, blotters, postcards, coasters, menu cards, meal checks, napkins, clocks, mugs, glasses, hats, visors and similar items.

The items must be used exclusively by the retailer or the retailer’s employees in a manner consistent with the liquor license:

  • Items must bear imprinted matter of the industry member only
  • Items may not be provided to retail customers
  • Items may not be targeted to or appeal principally to youth

A complaint process is established for branded promotional items similar to the complaint process for financial interest and ownership;

  • Any person may file a complaint with the Board asserting undue influence or an adverse impact on public health or safety, or that the provision of the items is otherwise inconsistent with the requirements for promotional items
  • The Board may investigate and issue an AVN

Industry members and retailers shall keep and maintain records on their premises for a three-year period that includes all items, services and money’s worth provided to retailers and purchased by a retailer at fair market value.


This article is an excerpt from the Handbook for Excellent Restaurant Operations (HERO), published by the Washington Hospitality Association.  Want a hard copy of the whole manual?  It’s one of the many benefits of becoming a member!  Find out more about joining the Washington Hospitality Association here.

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Categories: HERO