Brown Bagging in NC

*Please keep in mind that this is information is specific to North Carolina law. Contact an attorney in your state or your state’s alcohol beverage commission’s office to find out specific information about this.

People use the term “brown bagging” a lot, but when it comes to alcohol it has a very specific meaning-one that may not be intuitive to everyone.

FYI: a lot of people use the terms brown bagging, corkage, and BYOB interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing in NC. Brown bagging is one of the obscure, odd permits in NC. A brown-bagging permit authorizes each patron of an establishment to bring up to 8 liters of fortified wine or spirituous liquor, or 8 liters of the combined two, onto the premise to consume (See NC ABC). Note that this permit does not include malt beverages. Brown bagging permits can only be issued for:

  • Restaurants;
  • Hotels;
  • Private clubs;
  • Community theaters;
  • Congressionally chartered veterans’ organizations.

The above establishments can apply for a brown bagging permit in only NC counties with laws forbidding the service of mixed alcohol beverages.

The concept of brown bagging commenced because it was illegal in NC to have a cocktail in a restaurant from 1908-1967. A customer who wanted a mixed drink in a restaurant would have to supply his own liquor (hence bring the liquor into the restaurant), and the restaurant would provide the glass, ice, and a mixer. In 1978 the law changed (for the better), and NC restaurants could prepare and sell its own mixed drinks.

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If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me at or or call 919-335-5291.



  1. Thanks for informing us about this. This is super helpful.

  2. Tim Rayburn says

    If an establishment has a brown bag NC brown bag license. Can a guest store their alcohol in a locker on premises

    • In very specific circumstances a guest may store alcohol at the location. There’s an entire section on “guest lockers” in the Code. Check in the regulations for specifics or contact our office for a consultation.

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