Package Liquor Stores Are Safely Serving Their Communities During COVID-19

Holiday Week Highlights Package Liquor Store Month this November 


November 24, 2020 – BETHESDA, MD – As Americans find safe ways to “gather”, give thanks and kick-off the holiday season this week, American Beverage Licensees (ABL) is reminding everyone that America’s package liquor stores are doing their part to safely and responsibly serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.


November is Package Liquor Store Month, and this week presents consumers with an opportunity to visit their local beer, wine and spirits shop to find drinks to pair with their favorite Thanksgiving foods.  The holiday week also includes “Black Friday”, when many shoppers traditionally head out to purchase beverage gifts for their friends and families, as well as “Small Business Saturday”, when many will make a point to support beverage merchants by shopping local.


Package stores, which traditionally sell beer, wine and spirits and, in some cases, food items and other goods, have been deemed “essential businesses” by governments in nearly every state during the COVID-19 pandemic.  With an essential designation has come the responsibility of following enhanced public safety guidelines to make sure their employees and customers can safely shop for their favorite brands.


‘New Normal’ Means Adapting to a Changed Marketplace


The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for package liquors stores, but for many it will be a continuation of a busy year thanks to a shift in beer, wine and spirits consumption from on-premise occasions to adults enjoying beverages at home.  Managing increases in customer counts – and changes to how consumers purchase beverage alcohol – have required agility and flexibility from what are otherwise strictly regulated businesses.  State regulatory changes that have expanded – and in some states required – curbside sales, or in other states permitted local delivery, mean that liquor stores have had to invest in these labor-intensive operations to safely serve shoppers.


Package liquor stores are also adapting to the growth of e-commerce, with many improving their digital point-of-sales platforms and increasing their online presence for those customers who choose to shop online.  By creating a more robust online presence, traditional beverage retailers are doing virtually what they have always done in their stores: introducing consumers to a vast assortment of trusted brands and new and exciting products.  Package stores carry a wide selection of products – local, national and imported – and as dedicated beverage alcohol experts provide a level of service and information about products that makes a trip to the local package liquor store something to look forward to.


Public Safety Emphasis Not New for Liquor Stores


Liquor store owners and operators have always been committed to responsibility by training employees to comply with state laws, verifying shoppers’ ages by checking identification, and working with elected officials, regulators, law enforcement and other community leaders to make sure they are doing their part to keep alcohol out of underage hands.  They know that no sale is worth risking their standing in their community.


Now, another leg has been added to the responsibility stool as beverage retailers are charged with keeping their staff and customers safe from a deadly virus.  By and large, America’s beverage retailers have answered the call.


Many individual off-premise beverage licensees have spent tens of thousands of dollars to regularly clean their stores, provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff, offer hand sanitizer and masks to customers, and change their business models to accommodate the concerns and wishes of their guests.  Whether re-routing aisles in their stores, hiring greeters to monitor store capacity, or working with their team members to make sure they feel protected, “safe is the new normal” for package liquor stores.


Package store owners have also been thrust into the politics of mask-wearing, with some facing physical attacks on their staff by customers who disagree with their store policies.  Retailers have adopted firm policies for mask-wearing and age verification to make sure they are following state COVID guidelines, treat guests fairly and equally, and protect their frontline employees from the coronavirus and physical harm.


Advocating for the Best Alcohol Marketplace in the World


Since the onset of the pandemic, package stores and their state associations have been working with governors’ offices and state regulators to allow hospitality businesses to continue to serve their communities.  Through ABL and directly, they have been advocating for federal relief for local small businesses and their employees, including for their bar and tavern colleagues who have born the brunt of the pandemic’s economic devastation.  At stake is a retail beverage alcohol industry that includes hundreds of thousands of businesses, over 2 million jobs, $122 billion in economic activity and $27 billion in taxes.


American package stores provide a greater selection of beer, wine and spirits than any other country in the world while fostering innovation, competition and responsibility.  They operate day-in and day-out in an orderly, state-regulated alcohol system that has successfully balanced access with accountability, product choice with product safety, and customer service with community awareness.


As we give thanks this week, ABL encourages everyone to take a moment to recognize their local wine shops, liquor stores, beer stores and package stores, whose owners, operators and staff turn the key to open and close their Main Street essential businesses every day.


ABL Elects Officers for 2020-2022

July 30, 2020

BETHESDA, MD – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) elected officers to two-year terms at the association’s 18th Annual Meeting in July.  Officers elected were Mat Dinsmore of Wilbur’s Total Beverage in Fort Collins, Colorado, Treasurer; Juan Negrin of Super Wine Warehouse in Paterson, New Jersey, Vice President Off-Premise; Jay Gesner of Souse’s Lounge in Rockford, Illinois, Vice President On-Premise; and Terry Harvath of Wishing Well Bar & Grill in Appleton, Wisconsin, At-Large Representative.

“The newly-elected officers provide a diverse set of beverage alcohol retail experience, with perspectives of on- and off-premise independent operators,” said J.J. Moran, ABL President and owner of the Four Winds Liquor & Lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  “Mat, Juan, Jay and Terry are long-serving volunteer leaders of the ABL Board of Directors and their state associations, and I am grateful that I’ll have their wisdom and guidance on the ABL Executive Committee.”

In addition to Moran, the new officers will join the ABL Executive Committee with Bobby Greenawalt of B&B Bartending in Auburn, Alabama, Vice President On-Premise; Chris Marsicano of The Village Supper Club in Delavan, Wisconsin, Vice President On-Premise; Warren Scheidt of The Cork in Columbus, Indiana, At-Large Representative; and Steve Morris of Jorgenson’s Restaurant & Lounge in Helena, Montana, Past-President.  John Bodnovich is Executive Director of ABL.

ABL advocates for public policy on behalf of its 13,000 bar, tavern and package members in 28 states, working in Washington, DC and supporting its state retail alcohol association affiliates with information and relationships with retail licensees and across the broader alcohol and hospitality industry.  ABL is led by an active board of directors representing ABL’s state affiliates.  The board annually elects four officers to two-year terms, wherein they join current ABL officers in leading the association toward meeting its strategic goals.


ABL Statement on States Re-closing Bars and Taverns

June 30, 2020

BETHESDA, MD – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) Executive Director John Bodnovich issued the following statement regarding states re-closing bars and taverns due to COVID-19:

“After being shut down for up to 100 days in some states, laying off their employees and suffering devastating financial losses, bar and tavern owners have taken steps to safely reopen their businesses in compliance with state government guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  This has included implementing new public health safety policies, rehiring and retraining employees, purchasing PPE for staff and other products to deeply clean their businesses, as well as restocking beer, wine, liquor and food to serve their customers.

“Now, just before the Fourth of July weekend, these hospitality businesses are being singled out in some states, forced to close their doors again and shoulder a disproportionate share of the blame for spikes in coronavirus cases.  Picking on bars and creating an unlevel playing field is not the solution, especially when other newly reopened non-essential businesses such as restaurants and elective surgery centers are given a pass and can remain open.  Bars and taverns have a vested interest in keeping the marketplace safe for customers and urge state and local governments to acknowledge that with their policies.

“Governors, legislators, mayors and other government officials must understand that bars and taverns absolutely cannot close and reopen at the flip of a switch, and they cannot afford to invest in the supplies, products and people needed to reopen only to be closed again right away.  If they are to survive, they need a level playing field with other hospitality businesses, regulatory certainty so they can develop COVID-19 business plans, and economic support from policymakers if shutdowns are to continue.”


ABL Statement Applauding Passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

June 4, 2020

BETHESDA, MD – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) Executive Director John Bodnovich issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (H.R. 7010):

“As part of a broad coalition that pushed for legislative modifications to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), American Beverage Licensees (ABL) applauds the Senate’s passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which will provide Main Street beverage alcohol businesses with greater flexibility and a more realistic time frame to use the program as intended.

“Beverage alcohol licensees, including bars, taverns and other on-premise establishments, are some of the nearly 4.5 million small businesses that have received PPP loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. However, many of these businesses have endured state-enforced mandatory closures since March and are only now beginning to reopen their doors in still limited capacities to their employees and customers.  These circumstances, which have been beyond the control of local beverage businesses, have heightened their concerns about qualifying for PPP loan forgiveness, and driven them to strongly advocate for these important modifications to the PPP.

“With yesterday’s Senate passage of the PPP Flexibility Act following the House’s bipartisan approval of the bill on May 28, America’s beer, wine and spirits retailers are one step closer to getting back to the business of serving their communities.”

Link (pdf)


May Is National Tavern Month

Fighting to Keep Their Doors Open,

Local Bars & Taverns Need Support Now More Than Ever

APRIL 30, 2020 – BETHESDA, MD – Each year, American Beverage Licensees (ABL) reminds everyone that “May is Tavern Month” and encourages Americans to celebrate their local bars and taverns by stopping in and supporting these small businesses.

But this year is different.

With the COVID-19 crisis permeating every state, Main Street bars and taverns are in the fight of their lives as many have been forced to close their doors, lay off staff and severely alter or limit their operations.  What has always been an annual celebration is now a national emergency.

During most crises, corner bars and taverns are reliable refuges of normalcy, and some of the first to help their communities by supporting local economies, providing jobs and contributing to numerous nonprofits and charities.  But as the COVID-19 crisis continues, many of these family-owned small businesses are at risk of closing their doors permanently.

“What we stand to lose – economically, culturally, societally – with the widespread, permanent closure of bars and taverns is enormous,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.

“The job losses and financial impact continue to be tallied, but the mental and emotional costs of this crisis are incalculable.  Bar and tavern owners face gut-wrenching decisions over their businesses and with their staff members, many of whom are like family, and are often as well-known to customers as the establishments themselves.”

Until this spring, bars, taverns and other on-premise licensed establishments have been an important cog in the hospitality industry economic machine.  In the U.S., direct on-premise retail alcohol sales produce nearly $80.5 billion in direct economic impact; create more than 1.5 million jobs; generate $38.8 billion in direct wages and benefits; and provide over $31.5 billion in tax revenue annually.[1]

When including all sales by on-premise, full-service restaurants and drinking places, those numbers climb to 6.9 million jobs; $175.9 billion in direct wages and benefits; and over $363.3 billion in direct economic impact.

But with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, local bars and taverns are in a world of hurt.

Restrictions placed by states on on-premise sales of beverage alcohol products for the month of April alone will amount to losses of over $8.2 billion in sales, more than 148,000 total jobs, and $5.3 billion in total wages.  This does not even consider impacts from closures that begin in March or those that will extend into May or beyond.[2]

ABL and state bar and tavern associations are working with members to makes plans to reopen in a “new normal” where bars and taverns will be counted on to provide the economic growth required to help the country emerge from this crisis.

But for now, America’s bars and taverns are looking to national, state, local and industry leaders, as well as their loyal customers, for support and assistance to include:

  • White House – The White House Coronavirus Task Force must include in state reopening guidelines that bars and taverns have the opportunity to safely and responsibly reopen in the same phase and on a level playing field with restaurants and other similarly-situated businesses.  They are willing and ready to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the public and their guests and know what it means to be accountable businesspeople.
  • Congress – Bars and taverns appreciate Congress’ leadership in providing much needed relief in the CARES Act and supplemental legislation to bolster small business loan programs, but more relief is needed for hospitality businesses that account for 60% of jobs lost on account of COVID-19.
  • Governors – If bars and taverns are left behind in the reopening process now, many of them will never open their doors again. This means they will not be able to help rebuild their communities and get Americans back to work as the COVID-19 crisis subsides.  To overcome the long-term fiscal and employment impact of COVID-19, governors should consider directing aid toward these businesses and their employees and allow them to reopen as soon as it is safe and practicable.
  • Industry – The outpouring of support for bartenders, servers and back-of-house employees from the beverage alcohol industry has been generous and commendable. Bar and tavern businesses need the alcohol industry’s continued support to preserve the venues and destinations where beer, wine and spirits products can be discovered and enjoyed.
  • Customers – Once they can reopen, bars and taverns need the support of their loyal customers, many of whom have already shown their support during this crisis. From regular customers to happy hours to celebrations of all kinds, establishments count on their communities just as much as their communities count on them.


This May, join ABL and its state bar and tavern association affiliates nationwide in supporting some of the last truly Main Street businesses as they fight to keep serving their communities.  With the help of their customers, communities, industry and elected leaders, they will meet this challenge and continue the great American traditions of conviviality and hospitality in what, despite these challenging times, remains the Friendliest Place in Town.


[1] John Dunham & Associates. 2018 Economic Impact Study of America’s Beer, Wine and Spirits Retailers. New York, August 2018.

[2] John Dunham & Associates. American Beverage Licensees COVID-19 Impact Model. New York, April 2020.

ABL Statement Regarding Deregulation of the American Alcohol Industry in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

March 23, 2020

BETHESDA, MD American Beverage Licensees (ABL) Executive Director John Bodnovich issued the following statement regarding deregulation of the American alcohol industry in response to the COVID-19 crisis:

“American Beverage Licensees (ABL) and its state retail association affiliates have been hard at work for alcohol retailers during the COVID-19 crisis.  We’ve been working with governors’ offices and state regulators to allow hospitality businesses to continue to serve their communities; talking to federal and state legislators about providing relief for local small businesses and their employees; and coordinating with nearly all national alcohol industry trade associations in an effort to preserve the hundreds of thousands of businesses, over 2 million jobs, $122 billion in economic impact and $27 billion in taxes the alcohol industry generates.

“Now is the time for an orderly, state-regulated alcohol system where package liquor stores are treated as essential businesses, bars and taverns have the ability to serve their local communities in a modified way and, just as importantly, that we all do whatever we can for bar and tavern employees during this generation-defining crisis.

“Yet as stunned Americans try to adapt their lives and protect their families and businesses, and while people are literally dying during the COVID-19 crisis, today the National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) issued a statement calling for blanket deregulation of interstate retail wine-shipping during this human tragedy, a crassly opportunistic attempt to advance its long-standing policy objectives during the fog of a health crisis.

“NAWR couches its statement as a righteous attack on wine and spirits wholesalers who had the audacity to call on governors to deem beer, wine and spirits retailers ‘essential businesses’ and urge states to take modest steps to allow limited and temporary pick-up and delivery options for bars, taverns and restaurants.  Apparently, respectfully suggesting a thoughtful and measured approach when it comes to retail alcohol regulations during this crisis is a grievous sin.

“Instead of putting aside ideological beliefs, NAWR instead chooses to put on display naked opportunism and disregard for public safety in the name of its free market prerogative.  If NAWR truly represented what most consumers recognize as wine shops, liquor stores, package stores and others who turn the key to open and close their Main Street business storefronts every day, perhaps they would better understand why it is wrong to take advantage of the chaos of a crisis to advance their political agenda.

“What we should all be doing right now is encouraging everyone to support their local bars, restaurants and taverns in a safe and responsible way.  These are our friends and neighbors and they need our support now more than ever.”




American Beverage Licensees Statement Regarding Indefinite Postponement of ABL Annual Meeting

March 12, 2020

BETHESDA, MD American Beverage Licensees (ABL) Executive Director John Bodnovich issued the following statement regarding the 2020 ABL Annual Meeting:

“In preparation for the 2020 ABL Annual Meeting, scheduled to be held in New Orleans on March 29-30, ABL has been tracking the COVID-19 situation, including monitoring official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Louisiana Office of Public Health, and communicating with those involved with the ABL Annual Meeting.”

“Over the past week, cascading developments with COVID-19 have heightened concern and raised potential risk for those planning on traveling to and participating in the annual meeting.”

“After deliberative and careful consideration, and with the safety of our attendees, members, speakers, sponsors and staff top of mind, we have decided to indefinitely postpone the 2020 ABL Annual Meeting.

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, ABL will be working with leaders in government and industry to make sure hospitality businesses are informed and prepared to protect their staff and customers, and to address the economic impact that containment and mitigation protocols may have on bar, tavern and package store businesses across the country.”

“We appreciate all of those ABL members and industry partners who planned to attend the 2020 ABL Annual Meeting and support “America’s Beer, Wine and Spirits Retailers.”  We look forward to raising a glass with them at the next ABL Annual Meeting.”


ABL Celebrates 10th Annual Package Liquor Store Month This November

Annual Celebration Recognizes the Role Independent Off-Premise Retailers Have in Job Creation, Product Accessibility & Responsible Policies

BETHESDA, MD – OCTOBER 31, 2019 – This November, American Beverage Licensees (ABL) and independent licensed beverage retailers nationwide will join together to celebrate the 10th Annual Package Liquor Store Month. This celebration recognizes the hard work, commitment to responsibility, and role played by independent package store owners in communities across the United States.

America’s off-premise beverage retailers play an important role within the greater economy at the local, state and federal level. As noted in ABL’s 2018 Economic Impact Study of America’s Beer, Wine & Spirits Retailers, off-premise retailers have a direct economic impact in excess of $42.04 billion annually. These retailers further account for more than 565,000 jobs and $18.67 billion in wages and benefits – along with generating $7.12 billion in state and local taxes and an additional $9.18 billion in federal taxes.

America’s package stores – some of the nation’s last independently-owned “Main Street” businesses – serve as the face of the beverage industry for consumers within the framework of the Three-Tier System, as they are the last to handle beer, wine and spirits products before they reaches consumers. Beverage alcohol brands are built by these businesses, and for many consumers, the local package store provides opportunities to sample and learn about new flavors, styles and varieties of beverage alcohol from an ever-evolving marketplace. This focus on customer service and consumer education often comes from trusted experts and includes how best to enjoy and share these products responsibly.

“The American package store plays an important role within the communities where they operate,” said ABL President J.J. Moran of Four Winds Liquor & Lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “Not only do they conduct safe and responsible face-to-face sales to adult consumers – thus leading by example when it comes to preventing underage access to alcohol – but they also serve as some of the last remaining independent businesses in cities and towns across this great country. And it’s these businesses that continue to have a positive impact by creating jobs, supporting local youth sports and civic organizations, leading disaster relief efforts, and offering unparalleled product choices to millions of customers.”

Package stores also play a vital role in preventing counterfeit or tainted alcohol from reaching consumers.  Working with licensed wholesalers and suppliers in the Three-Tier System, customers are confident that the products they purchase in their local package store are safe and authentic.

This November, ABL encourages you to show your support for independent retailers and the 10th Annual Package Liquor Store Month by posting a picture of your neighborhood package store to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #PLSMonth.

Click here for more information and to view #PLSMonth promotional materials!

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American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers. Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate more than a 2.03 million well-paying jobs. ABL’s thousands of on-premise and off-premise licensee members are independent and often family-owned establishments. The beverage retailing industry pays over $27.9 billion in federal taxes and $20.0 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about ABL, visit   

Joint Statement by International Beverage Alcohol Associations in Response to U.S. Tariffs Imposed Today on Certain EU Distilled Spirits & Wines

We are united in our opposition to the imposition of tariffs and clear in our view that there are no winners in a trade war.  Our 15 international beverage alcohol associations today sent a letter to the U.S. administration and the EU Commission calling for an immediate end to tariffs on distilled spirits and wines and welcoming their statements of their shared intent to reach negotiated solutions to the disputes.  Our industries are collateral damage in trade disputes that have nothing to do with the beverage alcohol sector. This new round of tariffs will further damage a transatlantic industry that has already been negatively impacted by the EU’s retaliatory tariff on American Whiskey.

American Whiskey exports to the EU have faced a 25% tariff since June 2018 and, beginning today, certain EU spirits and wines imported into the U.S. now face a 25% tariff.  Since the EU’s imposition of tariffs, American Whiskey exports to the EU have decreased by nearly 21%.  These tariffs are greatly harming the industry’s competitiveness, long-standing partnerships, workers and our farm suppliers.  The negative impacts will be compounded by these new tariffs on EU products entering the U.S.   Tariffs are taxes on U.S. consumers who create demand for these products in the U.S. marketplace.

Importantly, the U.S. and EU wines and spirits sectors are interconnected, with companies owning a range of European and American distinctive spirits and wines in their brand portfolios.   As a result, these new U.S. tariffs on EU spirits and wines could result in the loss of 8,000 good-paying jobs across the U.S. beverage alcohol sector, from importers, distributors, wholesalers, to the hospitality sector.

Prior to these recent trade disputes, U.S. and EU spirits exporters enjoyed more than two decades of tariff-free access to each other’s markets, and U.S. and EU wine exporters have faced very low tariffs.   This open access to each other’s markets has significantly benefitted EU and U.S. distillers, vintners, farmers, and the hospitality industry on both sides of the Atlantic, resulting in increased jobs, community investment, and consumer choice.

Additionally, many U.S. wine and spirits exporters may face the increasing likelihood that the EU may respond by imposing more tariffs on U.S. wines and other U.S. spirits products.

The next quarter is the busiest time of the year for spirits and wine producers on both sides of the Atlantic as consumers gear up for holiday gift-giving and entertaining.  In order to protect the jobs and communities we support, we urgently call on the U.S. and the EU to reach an agreement to de-escalate the current trade disputes by immediately and simultaneously removing the EU’s retaliatory tariff on U.S. whiskey and the U.S. tariffs on EU spirits and wines.


Links to the letters sent today to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the European Commission

Background on EU Spirits and Wines Impacted by the U.S. Tariffs:

The United States is assessing a 25% tariff on imports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky; Single Malt Irish Whiskey from Northern Ireland; liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and United Kingdom; and certain wines from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Background on U.S. Spirits Impacted by the EU Tariffs:

Since June 22, 2018, all American Whiskeys exported to the EU have faced a 25% import tariff.

The joint statement was issued by the following beverage alcohol trade associations:

  • American Beverage Licensees
  • American Craft Spirits Association
  • American Distilled Spirits Association
  • Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC)
  • Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS)
  • Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey
  • Drinks Ireland|Spirits
  • Federación Española de Bebidas Espirituosas
  • Kentucky Distillers’ Association
  • National Association of Beverage Importers
  • Scotch Whisky Association
  • spiritsEUROPE
  • The Wine and Spirit Trade Association
  • Wine and Spirits Shippers Association
  • Wines & Spirits Wholesalers of America

U.S. Alcohol Trade Groups Call for End to Tariffs on EU Spirits & Wine

U.S. alcohol trade groups urged an end to tariffs on EU distilled spirits and wine following the United States decision announced today to impose tariffs of 25 percent on imports of Scotch Whisky, liqueurs and cordials, and wine from certain European Union countries in connection with the WTO civil aviation subsidies dispute.

The U.S. action further ensnarls the distilled spirits industry in a trade dispute that began last year when the EU imposed a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on American Whiskey in response to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs.  The EU is considering imposing more tariffs on additional U.S. spirits and could raise them against U.S. wine as part of a separate WTO civil aviation subsidies dispute.

Since the EU’s 25 percent retaliatory tariff on American Whiskey was imposed last year, exports have declined 21 percent. Additionally, China is imposing a 54 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. wine imports, which is contributing to a 57 percent decline in trade with China since the beginning of 2019.

These new tariffs on EU spirits and wine will have numerous unintended negative consequences on U.S. jobs, U.S. consumers and the many U.S. companies that include EU wine and spirits such as Scotch Whisky and liqueurs and cordials in their portfolios.

According to an analysis by the Distilled Spirits Council, these U.S. retaliatory tariffs on Scotch Whisky, liqueurs and cordials, and wine could impact nearly $3.4 billion in imports and could lead to a loss of approximately 13,000 U.S. jobs, including truckers, farmers, and bartenders and servers in the hospitality industry.

The U.S. and EU have a long history of tariff-free trade in distilled spirits dating back to 1994, when an agreement was reached to eliminate tariffs on the vast majority of distilled spirits.

Chris Swonger, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, stated, “The decision to impose tariffs on imports of EU distilled spirits is a devastating blow to the U.S. spirits industry. While we recognize the U.S. and EU are trying to solve long standing trade disputes, distillers on both sides of the Atlantic have become collateral damage in matters that are completely unrelated to our industry. As the important holiday season approaches, we urgently call upon the U.S. and the EU governments to get back to the negotiating table and return to tariff free trade with our largest export market.”

Michelle Korsmo, President and CEO, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, said, “These tariffs stand to disrupt consumer-driven, industry-wide growth, and will negatively impact the family-owned businesses who import and distribute the nation’s wine and spirits. When free trade is compromised and business becomes more expensive to conduct, consumers are always left to pay for the damages by way of higher prices.”

Robert M. Tobiassen, President of the National Association of Beverage Importers, stated, “These tariffs will devastate, perhaps destroy, many small and medium sized family businesses importing these products into the United States. More than 12,000 importers hold Federal permits and provide solid middle-class jobs in their local communities selling brands of products demanded by consumers who should not be collateral damage by what is a pure civil aircraft dispute.”

Margie A.S. Lehrman, CEO, American Craft Spirits Association, said, “On behalf of our nation’s growing community of nearly 2,000 craft spirits producers, the American Craft Spirits Association urges the Administration to work collaboratively with the E.U. to ensure all American businesses, including craft spirits, prosper. The threat of additional retaliatory tariffs from the EU on American rum, vodka, and brandy imports from the U.S. will further limit our market access, directly affecting not just our distillers and their families – who collectively make up a workforce of more than 20,000 employees across the U.S. – but the farmers and agricultural partners who supply their grains, the manufacturing industry that has helped support our community as they grow, and the broader hospitality industry.”

Matt Dogali, CEO of the American Distilled Spirits Association, added, “These spirits come to the U.S. market through a supply chain of predominately U.S. owned and operated companies.  This is a tax paid by American businesses and American consumers.”


Distilled Spirits Council: Lisa Hawkins,, (202) 682-8840

American Craft Spirits Association: Alexandra Clough,, (516) 428-7210

American Distilled Spirits Association: Matt Dogali,, (202)-670-4616

Kentucky Distillers’ Association: Eric Gregory,, (502) 875-9351

Wine Institute: Nancy Light, (415) 512-0151

WineAmerica: Michael Kaiser,, (202) 223-5172

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America: Michael Bilello,, 202-243-7506

American Beverage Licensees: Matthew Evans,, (301) 656-1494

National Association of Beverage Importers:  Robert Tobiassen , (202) 393-6224

Wine and Spirits Shippers Association: Alison Leavitt,, (207) 805 1664

Save the Date: American Beverage Licensees Will Return to New Orleans for Annual Meeting March 29-30, 2020

BETHESDA, MD – SEPTEMBER 4, 2019 – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) announced today that it will return to New Orleans, Louisiana for the 2020 ABL Annual Meeting, taking place March 29-30, 2020. The meeting will be held at the Hilton New Orleans St. Charles Avenue and will include a range of speakers and networking opportunities for attendees and feature the latest news and trends in the beverage alcohol industry from leading industry experts.

As with previous ABL conferences, the 2020 ABL Annual Meeting will once again bring together beer, wine and spirits retailers from across the country – as well as representatives from the three tiers of the beverage alcohol industry. The meeting program will examine the key issues of the day facing independent beverage retailers including what can be expected in the wake of the Tennessee Wine Supreme Court case; regulatory and legislative developments in states; the evolving cannabis market and a host of other important topics that affect beverage retailers’ business and are shaping the beverage alcohol marketplace.

“New Orleans is synonymous with the beer, wine, spirits, and hospitality that have come to define a ‘golden age’ of beverage alcohol in the United States,” said ABL President J.J. Moran. “We look forward to welcoming bar, tavern and package store owners, as well as industry leaders, to the Big Easy as we examine the challenges, opportunities and emerging trends facing America’s independent beverage retailers.”

Additional information – including registration and room rates, speakers, schedules, and hospitality events – will be announced in the coming weeks and months. For the latest updates and information on the 2020 ABL Annual Meeting, be sure to visit the The latest updates can also be found by following the #ABLMeeting20 hashtag on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers. Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate more than a 2.03 million well-paying jobs. ABL’s thousands of on-premise and off-premise licensee members are independent and often family-owned establishments. The beverage retailing industry pays over $27.9 billion in federal taxes and $20.0 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about ABL, visit