The following directives provide guidance for Liquor Sales Licensees and Manufacturers, including holders of a By-The-Glass Endorsement, on practices that may tend to encourage the immoderate consumption of liquor. Liquor sales licensees are prohibited from engaging in or permitting practices that may tend to encourage patrons’ immoderate consumption of liquor by section 24 of Regulation 746/21 under the Liquor Licence and Control Act.

Liquor sales licensees in Ontario are required to offer, promote, sell, and serve liquor in accordance with these directives.

  1. A standard-sized drink may not be sold or supplied for less than the prices noted below. As outlined in Section 26 of Regulation 746/21, licensees may not offer for sale or supply a serving of liquor for less than the following amount, including all applicable taxes:
    • In the case of spirits containing more than 14.8 per cent alcohol by volume, $1.34.
    • In every other case, $2.00.

    A serving of liquor is defined as follows:

    • 341 ml (12 oz) of beer, cider or cooler;
    • 29 ml (1 oz) of spirits;
    • 142 ml (5 oz) of regular wine;
    • 85 ml (3 oz) of fortified wine.
  1. The minimum price changes depending on the size of the serving of liquor provided to the patron.  If the Licensee offers for sale a serving of liquor that differs from a standard serving of liquor, the minimum price for that serving shall increase or decrease in direct proportion to the difference in volume of liquor contained in that serving.
  1. Responsible drink price flexibility is permitted. A licensee may vary the purchase price of liquor as long as it remains above the minimum price, whether offered in combination with food or other goods or services, such as ‘wine with dinner’, ‘beer with wings’, or ‘a cocktail with a spa treatment’ or for a specified time. For example, a licensee may offer a different price for a glass of wine provided with a certain meal on a regular basis, a different price for martinis on a certain day or a different price for domestic beers, house wine and bar shots during a certain period of a day as long as the cost of the liquor itself remains at or above the minimum price. Licensees are prohibited from requiring patrons to purchase liquor to enter or remain on the premises and are therefore required to offer other goods and services that do not require the purchase of alcohol.
  2. Revised drink prices must always be posted or provided to patrons. If there is a temporary change in the price of liquor, served alone or in combination with food or other goods or services, the Licensee must post or provide a notice specifying the change and make it visible or available to all patrons attending the premises while the change is in effect to comply with the standards and requirements established by the Registrar.
  3. Liquor prices must be the same for all patrons. A licensee is required to offer uniform liquor pricing to all patrons. Promotions that target certain segments of the population, such as students or women, are not permitted. A licensee, however, is permitted to offer different liquor prices in separate locations of their establishment. For example, a licensee may offer liquor prices to patrons in a patio area that are different from those offered in an indoor area or different prices to patrons dining on-site from those purchasing liquor and food for takeout or delivery.

    A licensee may accept items such as discounted gift cards for the purchase of liquor and food or other goods or services as long as the items are available to all segments of the population.

  4. Drink prices may not be based on the purchase of other drinks. A licensee is not permitted to offer a difference in the price of liquor which is contingent on another purchase of liquor or is offered at regular intervals. For example, promotions such as ‘2 for 1 drinks’, ‘2nd drink is ½ off’ or ‘every 3rd drink is $2’ are prohibited under all circumstances.
  5. Prices and promotions may be advertised outside of the establishment. A licensee may advertise or post liquor prices and promotions outside of the licensed premises and online. For example, postings on a ‘sandwich board’ may include such items as time periods and locations prices are in effect, food, takeout, delivery or other goods or services included in a promotion, brands and generic categories like “domestic beers”, “margaritas” or “a glass of our finest wine”.
  6. The posting and advertising of prices and promotions must be responsible in nature. A licensee is not permitted to advertise or post liquor prices and promotions, inside or outside of the licensed premises, or online in a manner that may promote immoderate consumption.
  7. Patrons may be provided complimentary drinks under certain circumstances. A licensee and/or the employee of a licensee may purchase liquor for a patron at the established listed price for purposes such as recognizing regular patronage, celebrating special events, expressing friendship, or acknowledging poor service. Liquor may not be purchased for patrons as part of a promotion or at regular intervals, or indiscriminately for patrons at the establishment. For example, a licensee or employee may not purchase liquor to entice patrons to enter the establishment, make further liquor purchases, or advertise or announce the availability of liquor purchases for patrons in any manner.
  8. All-inclusive vacation packages.  Licensees may offer for sale a package including the cost of liquor and one or more of a trip, accommodation, food or other services. This enables premises such as resorts and hotels to package liquor with travel and vacation goods and services, such as offering one price for liquor service with a hotel stay, or food and drink vouchers to be used at the resort’s restaurant or bar. As well, travel related licensees such as airport lounges, boats and railway cars may package liquor with the cost of a ticket.
  9. Licensees may offer a package of food and liquor at a fixed price at an event. The price of the food component must be fair market price and represent no more than 50 per cent of the total price of the package. The event must be intended only for the invited guests of the event organizer, cannot be advertised to the general public and not open to the general public. Attendees cannot be charged a fee for admission to the event or for liquor or food and the time for which alcoholic drinks may be provided to attendees without charge to the attendee cannot exceed eight hours.

    The Licensee and event organizer must have a written contract that sets out the price of the food component and the price of the liquor component of the package. The event organizer or the organizer’s delegate must remain on the premises at all times during the event. The Licensee must keep all contracts relating to the event for at least one year after the event takes place and make them readily available for inspection.

Other practices that generally promote immoderate consumption, including the over-service of patrons and permitting contests, challenges and events requiring or encouraging the consumption of liquor, are not permitted and may lead to administrative sanction.

It is also important to note that liquor sales licensees remain under general obligations not to serve intoxicated individuals and/or permit drunkenness in their establishments and must continue to operate in accordance with the other provisions of the Liquor Advertising Guidelines for Liquor Sales Licensees and Manufacturers, as well as all other applicable regulations and laws.