Changes to the NYS ABC Law

Friday, September 23, 2016

As you may know, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed legislation amending the State's Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (the "ABC Law"). Specifically, the Governor signed two bills on September 13th (S.5707-A/A.7960-A and S.5341/A.5580). These bills have been touted by the media and legislators as further breaking down artificial barriers and helping to increase exposure of New York's alcoholic beverage manufacturing industry.While these assessments may be true on the surface, it is vital that industry members understand the actual scope of the legislation so that they may continue to comply with the law.

On initial review, the two pieces of legislation in question make drastic changes to portions of the ABC Law. In particular, each bill purports to legalize the sale by certain classes of licensees of New York State wines, beers, ciders and liquors for consumption on or off premises. In other words, the licensees affected by the legislation may now operate bar-type establishments from their licensed premises, provided that they only serve New York State labeled products. Generally, the additional products that may be served must be manufactured by a "farm" class licensee.

While the new legislation certainly provides for greater flexibility in operations, it is important to note that the legislation does not affect all "farm" class licensees. Rather, the two bills only affect holders of Farm Brewery and Farm Cidery licenses. Neither bill makes any changes to the rules governing the operation of Farm Wineries or Farm Distilleries. As a result,holders of Farm Winery and Farm Distillery licenses remain subject to existing laws governing their sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on-premises.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please contact Zachary R.Benjamin at (315) 422-1152.

Costello, Cooney & Fearon, PLLC has provided expert and diverse legal services to Syracuse and surrounding communities for more than 100 years.