This week’s blog post might be a real downer to some of you who look forward to happy hour.

*North Carolina does NOT allow happy hour for alcohol. Eating establishments can offer happy hour for food only. See ABC Rule 2S.0232 (b).

The ABC Commission has compiled “Happy Hours FAQs” that sheds some light on the mystery of “Happy Hour” in NC.

One of the most important rules regarding happy hour in NC is ABC Rule 2S.0232 (b): “An on-premise permittee or his agent shall not give away a drink or sell the drink for any period of time less than one full business day.” Free or reduced alcoholic drinks must be offered to all customers, not just a segment of the population for a specific timeframe.

Can a bartender sell more than one drink to a customer at a time?

No, see ABC Rule 2S.0232(3). An on-premise permittee or his agent shall not sell more than one drink to a patron for his own consumption or deliver more than one drink at one time to a patron for his consumption.

Except you ARE allowed to:
  • sell pitchers of alcoholic beverages to two or more patrons;
  • a bartender to serve a single carafe or bottle of wine to a single patron; and
  • let a person can purchase a round of drinks for multiple persons.

Is a pitcher of margaritas considered one drink or more than just one drink?

Any drink served or sold as a pitcher is considered more than one drink and must be sold to more than a single patron.

Is there any special time during the year where I can offer a package deal where alcoholic beverages are included in the price?

Yes, an on-premise permittee may include alcoholic beverages in a package offering that includes a meal or entertainment if the offered special is made in conjunction with the following holidays: New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day. See ABC Rule 2S. 232(d) (e).

Note: The offer of a meal and alcoholic beverage at a single total price is not a violation of this Section so long as the total price reflects the actual price of the alcoholic beverages and not a reduced price. In this instance you cannot discount the alcohol.

Can I advertise reduce the price of alcohol?

No, everyone pays the same price for the same beer. See ABC Rule 2S-1006(a).

Can my business advertise for “2 for 1,” “buy 1 get 1 free?”

No, a business cannot advertise for a drink promotion and any other similar statement indicating that a patron must buy more than one drink. See ABC Rule 2S.1006(f). No advertisement can require the purchase of one drink in order to qualify for the “deal” or “special.”

Can I advertise alcoholic beverages on my free-standing marquee located at the street?

No, all exterior advertising for alcohol must be a “single nonmechanical sign” attached to the building on the licensed premises. See ABC Rule 2S. 1008(a)(b).

Can my business promote specials where prizes are given away based on the purchase of certain alcoholic beverages?

No, an industry member of retailer cannot promote an alcoholic beverage product by giving prizes, premiums or merchandise to individuals for which any purchase of alcoholic beverages is required. See ABC Rule 2S.1006(e).

Contact us!

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

Be sure to check out Beer Law Center and Matheson Law Office for all things NC legal.


Contact the NC ABC Commission

400 East Tryon Road

Raleigh, NC 27610





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