Don't take my drink away!
June 27, 2008 1:20 PM   Subscribe

So what exactly are the restrictions regarding purchasing alcohol in Maryland?

I'm moving to Baltimore in August and a friend has mentioned that Maryland has some very antiquated alcohol laws on the books preventing liquor to be purchased on certain days, times, or locations. I'm coming from California where you can get anything you need, anywhere, at anytime (or have it shipped to you from out of state) so this is a bit frustrating and very silly, it would seem.

Can someone give me the rundown of what I can and can't legally do regarding alcohol purchases in MD?
posted by Asherah to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Try here.
posted by Pax at 1:25 PM on June 27, 2008

Yeah, coming from California it kinda sucks:

- Most things (including liquor stores) are closed on Sundays
- Except for one instance (our local co-op), it seems that grocery stores aren't allowed to sell beer and wine.

You get used to it. :)
posted by GardenGal at 1:41 PM on June 27, 2008

Pax's link applies only to Baltimore City, and is really more information than you, as a consumer, need. I presume you're not planning on selling booze. Here's how it runs down in this state:

* Alcohol is not sold in grocery stores or convenience stores in Maryland. It can only be purchased in licensed retail shops known, colloquially, as liquor stores. Do not let the name fool you; Maryland's liquor stores stock all types of drinkable alcohol, including wine and beer.

* Liquor stores are privately owned, and cannot be part of a chain. Thus, prices, selection, hours and policies will vary from one store to another. There are many liquor stores in Maryland, and they can be found in almost every strip mall or shopping center.

* All liquor stores in Maryland are closed on Sundays. Stores may or may not close on major holidays. You will have no difficulty buying a bottle of vodka on Columbus Day.

* Bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol at 2:00 AM. For this reason, most bars close at 2:00 AM or earlier. If you find yourself in a 24-hour establishment that serves alcohol, and you have a drink in your hand at 2:00 AM, it will be taken away from you.

Other than these points, Maryland is pretty normal. Bars will mix and serve your drinks without messing around with tiny airplane bottles. Liquor stores aren't state-owned and segregated by type of alcohol, like they are in Pennsylvania. You won't have any trouble getting your drink on.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:42 PM on June 27, 2008

We live in Maryland but buy our wine in Virginia (cheaper). I grew up in California and it took a long time before I got used to not seeing wine in grocery stores (they do sell wine in grocery stores in Virginia).

Yes, Maryland law is antiquated. I especially abhor the inability to buy wine from out of the state and have it shipped to your home. Not allowed UNLESS the winery has no distributor. (We belong to a California wine club and they can ship it to our house because the wineries are small and have no other distribution.)
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 1:49 PM on June 27, 2008

I could have *sworn* I went on a booze run once on a Sunday and managed to get some in a shady tiny liquor store. I also have seen beer and liquor sold in convenience stores. But, it was some years ago so perhaps the law has changed since then.

In any event, booze is not hard to get in Baltimore if you're legal. Just stock up before 2am. :)
posted by Jenesta at 1:51 PM on June 27, 2008

I think there are just several different types of liquor license that different businesses get. Buying alcohol any day of the week (prior to two AM) is not difficult, you just have to know where to go. Most bars I know of have carryout available until close (we call it "package goods" here). Some liquor stores are not open Sundays, and some close a bit early, say 10:00 PM. For example, the one closest to me is not open Sundays, closes at 10:00 Monday through Thursday, and closes at midnight Friday and Saturday. If that doesn't work I can go to the bar about a block farther away and get anything, up until 2:00. You will not have difficulty buying alcohol in Baltimore, oh no. IAABD (I Am A Baltimore Drinker).
On preview - most grocery stores don't sell booze, but some DO. Mount Vernon Eddie's has beer and wine, for example. The 7-11 won't, but the bodega up the block will. On Sunday, just go to a bodega for beer and wine, to a bar for the hard stuff carryout. And some places (Jerry's Belvedere Tavern as an example) have a full on liquor store attached to the bar, and are open seven days a week until 2:00. You really won't have a problem.

For really screwy liquor laws try Pennsylvania.
posted by zoinks at 1:59 PM on June 27, 2008

It's a county by county thing and the law varies.

Where I live in Maryland nearly all liquor stores open at noon Sunday and you can buy whatever you want at that point. No booze of any kind is available in grocery stores. Convenience stores that do sell beer and wine can't sell it earlier in the day. No stores not specifically defined as liquor stores can sell hard liquor.

At least one Maryland county (home to a popular western Maryland resort area) is completely dry on Sundays.

And yes, it is strange and confusing. Not being one to take chances, I make it a point to stock up on Friday or Saturday.
posted by imjustsaying at 5:35 PM on June 27, 2008

To clarify on the Sunday issue, most counties and Baltimore City don't allow store sales on Sunday. However, Anne Arundel County, just south of Baltimore, does allow Sunday sales. (Liquor stores in Baltimore City are allowed to sell on the Sundays between Thanksgiving and New Year's if they apply for a separate special license for each Sunday.)

Also, a small number of bars in Baltimore have a 1:00 license, not a 2:00 license. This can be a bit jarring if you're not expecting last call at 12:30.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that it is legal in MD to bring a partially consumed bottle of wine home from a restaurant. The wine must be placed in a portion of the vehicle not accessible to the driver like the trunk or glove box.
posted by weebil at 5:52 PM on June 27, 2008

Cecil County, MD allows sunday sales, and there is a 7-11 on route 40 in Perryville I know of that sells Beer and wine, as do a couple gas station convience stores
posted by Mr_Chips at 8:17 PM on June 27, 2008

Also one thing Maryland does that I have not seen in other states is they require a "keg license".

Basically when you buy a keg in Maryland they copy all the info from your drivers License, and slap it on a label that gets put on the keg.

It is my understanding it is illegal to posses a keg in the state of Maryland that does not have this sticker. I guess the idea is if the cops roll up on party in the woods and find a bunch of underage kids sucking on a keg they know whose door to go knocking on

It's been a long time since I've bought kegs on a regular basis, so maybe most states do this now, but I've only ever seen it in Maryland
posted by Mr_Chips at 8:23 PM on June 27, 2008

Well, it could be worse, you could be moving to Pennsylvania.

Here's the rundown on City sales:

1. Beer and wine every day of the week. No liquor on Sunday.
2. Most liquor stores will be closed on Sundays. You can buy beer and wine over the counter at bars on Sundays or at a bar with a package goods license. They'll have a big cooler, like at a liquor store.
3. Most places will not ship to MD, period.
posted by electroboy at 3:38 PM on July 7, 2008

There are, in fact, grocery stores that sell booze. It varies county by county. In say, Salisbury, there is wine and beer in every grocery store, but no private liquor stores. Where I live, there are private liquor stores, but only grocery stores that are old enough to be grandfathered in still have booze.
posted by spaltavian at 5:49 PM on September 23, 2008

« Older Should I buy an eee PC?   |   Pit stop. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.