ABL Welcomes Provi As An Associate Member To Provide Education On Digital Solutions To On-and-Off Premise Retailers Throughout the U.S.

BETHESDA, MD – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) today announced Provi, the largest ecommerce marketplace for the beverage alcohol industry, has joined its membership program as an associate member. As ABL’s newest member, Provi will provide education and perspective around the emergence of technology and its ability to streamline efficiencies for on-and-off premise retailers.

Digital solutions, like Provi, have been widely adopted throughout the industry to optimize revenue, strengthen connections, and generate growth for the overall beverage alcohol sector. Trade buyers, specifically, have leaned on digital tools to lessen burdens stemming from macro-economic challenges such as labor shortages and inflation.

“We are excited for Provi to become ABL’s newest Associate Member, and to share with beverage licensees another tool they have to make their businesses more efficient and profitable,” said ABL Executive Director, John Bodnovich. “Successful bar owners and package liquor store owners are increasingly making use of technology solutions to grow their businesses and stay on top of new products and brands while still operating in a three-tier compliant way. Provi gives these small business owners another way to search, discover and order the products their consumers rely on.”

Founded in 2016, Provi’s mission is to bring greater efficiency to the beverage alcohol industry and the existing three tier system. Alongside its digital solutions, the company also generates content-driven resources for retailers through its publishing vehicles, Beverage Media Group and SevenFifty Daily.

“Our goal is to make the jobs across the retail, distributor, and supplier tiers easier,” stated Taylor Katzman, Provi’s Founder and CEO. “We are thrilled to be part of ABL to further educate its beverage licensee members on how to effectively navigate through the digital transformation of our sector and reduce the day-to-day challenges they deal with.”

Through its Associate Membership Program, ABL will provide Provi with opportunities to connect with beverage retailers to exchange perspectives, resources and expertise, and provide support on emerging issues. Provi’s membership with ABL is an expansion of the company’s ongoing efforts to support key organizations throughout the beverage alcohol sector such as DISCUS, WSWA, NBWA, Massachusetts Package Store Association, and hospitality associations throughout the country.

To learn more about Provi, visit



About ABL (

American Beverage Licensees (ABL) 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.

About Provi (

Provi is the largest online marketplace that simplifies the complex process of ordering wholesale alcohol by connecting buyers, distributors and suppliers. Active in key markets throughout the U.S., Provi’s robust, online marketplace improves communication and efficiency for on- and off-premise buyers, distributors and suppliers. Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Chicago, Provi received Built In Chicago’s Best Places to Work recognition in 2022. In 2022, Provi joined forces with SevenFifty, which included the Beverage Media properties with industry legacy dating back to the repeal of prohibition, along with SevenFifty Daily, an award-winning industry publication discussing the beverage alcohol business and culture.

Media Contacts:


Susan Duffy

Senior Director of Operations & Trade Relations

(301) 956-3657


Kelley McGann

Director of Corporate Communication

(845) 494-3784

Package Liquor Stores Take November Momentum into Busy Holiday Season

November 30, 2022 — BETHESDA, MD – With the December around the corner, America’s package liquor stores are looking to build on a busy start to the holiday season in November with a push to meet consumer needs into the holidays and the New Year.

Not only did off-premise alcohol retailers celebrate Package Liquor Store Month this November, they also participated in the re-launch of the “We Don’t Serve Teens” campaign, promoting the responsible sales and service of beer, wine, and spirits.  And while their on-premise tavern and bar colleagues were busy serving customers on Thanksgiving Eve or “National Bar Night”, as it’s known to many, local package stores were busy recommending drink pairings for Thanksgiving dinners, keeping the shelves stocked on Black Friday, and serving their communities and neighbors who stopped by to support these trusted home-grown businesses on Small Business Saturday.

November was also a busy time for package stores in states like Colorado and Massachusetts, where they engaged in campaigns on ballot initiatives that directly affect their businesses, employees, and customers.  Despite being vastly outspent by out-of-state corporations and national chains, state retail beverage organizations notched victories for their members, educated the public and elected officials about their businesses, and did their part to preserve vibrant independent beverage alcohol marketplaces for their communities.

In Washington, DC, off-premise beverage licensees continue their grassroots advocacy for pro-small business legislation, including fighting for the passage of the Credit Card Competition Act, which would bring much-needed competition to the broken credit card payment system; making sure that changes to federal data privacy laws work for Main Street businesses; and sharing their experience when it comes to trade practice laws and other regulations to ensure a competitive beverage alcohol market.  These efforts come after package liquor stores were almost universally recognized as essential businesses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The economic impact of off-premise businesses is significant.  The 2020 Economic Impact Study of America’s Beer, Wine & Spirits Retailers found that off-premise retailers have a direct economic impact in excess of $50 billion annually. These retailers further account for more than 620,000 jobs and $22 billion in wages and benefits – along with generating $21 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.

While their economic impact is notable, package liquor stores also play a vital public safety role. Whether preventing counterfeit or tainted alcohol from reaching the hands of consumers; using technology and training to make sure that customers are at least 21 years of age; or working with industry partners and regulators to ensure local accountability – including proper tax collection – package liquor stores are doing their part in America’s beverage alcohol ecosystem.

With a busy Package Liquor Store Month coming to a close, and even busier times ahead, ABL encourages everyone to support their local, independent package liquor store this holiday season.  Cheers!

ABL Supports ‘We Don’t Serve Teens’ Campaign

November 15, 2022 — BETHESDA, MD – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) announced its support today for the re-launch of the “We Don’t Serve Teens” campaign, underscoring beverage alcohol retailers’ commitment to preventing underage access to alcohol and alerting adults to the dangers of illegally providing alcohol to minors.

America’s Beer, Wine & Spirits Retailers have supported the We Don’t Serve Teens program since its inception in 2006 as part of a longstanding effort by ABL to address underage access to alcohol.  ABL is proud to once again to stand with alcohol regulators, industry partners and community organizations to amplify the We Don’t Serve Teens campaign’s important message.

“As shoppers and patrons get ‘in the spirit’ in the coming weeks, many of them will choose to include beer, wine and spirits as part of their celebrations,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. “During this busy time – though truly all year around – beverage licensees recognize and embrace the role they play when it comes to preventing underage access to alcohol through vigilance, training and responsible sales and service.”

ABL state affiliate associations are also joining the We Don’t Serve Teens campaign this fall.  These organizations and their member businesses will be promoting the program and its clear message in their local communities and to their customers, be they at the local bar or package liquor store.  This grassroots connection is a hallmark of independent retailers who are locally licensed and the last to handle beer, wine and spirits before they reach consumers.  With close proximity to customers and their authenticity as locally owned small businesses, independent beverage licensees are an essential link in the three-tier responsibility chain and terrific ambassadors to deliver the We Don’t Serve Teens message.

“The We Don’t Serve Teens campaign is an important piece of the bigger puzzle when it comes preventing underage access to alcohol,” said Bodnovich. “We Don’t Serve Teens raises the issue with adults and parents, which is critical in making sure underage drinking continues to decline. Truly the message is We Don’t Serve Teens…and neither should you.”

For more information about the We Don’t Serve Teens campaign, including customizable materials that can be downloaded for display and use, please visit


ABL Honors Retailers of the Year at Annual Meeting

American Beverage Licensees (ABL) recognized outstanding bar and package liquor store owners from across the country as ABL Retailers of the Year at the ABL Annual Meeting in New Orleans in July.  Nominated by their state licensed beverage associations for excellence in advocacy, commitment to responsible sales and service practices, community engagement, and support of their state association, these leaders are ambassadors of the vibrant retail alcohol marketplaces found in states throughout the country.

“The Retailer of the Year Awards provide ABL with an opportunity to honor our members – those individuals who serve as the face of the beverage alcohol industry to customers,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.  “After the last two years, we know how important they are in their communities and the role they play in keeping the social fabric of our country intact.”

Whether operating on-premise bars or taverns, or off-premise beer, wine and liquor stores, these business owners are fitting examples of American entrepreneurship and the small businesses that create jobs that power the economy.

Due the COVID-19 pandemic, and the cancellation of in-person ABL Annual Meetings in 2020 and 2021, this year ABL recognized Retailers of the Year from 2020, 2021 and 2022.

The 2020 ABL Retailers of the Year include:

  • Adam Blau | The Liquor Box | Independence, KY
  • Doug Bryant | Sherlock’s | Marietta, GA
  • Marshele Burgess | Rip’s Country Inn | Bowie, MD
  • Judd Campbell | The Historic Wolf Hotel and Restaurant | Saratoga, WY
  • Steve Conrad | Conrad’s Saloon | Ashkum, IL
  • Joe Hobbs | High Note Liquors | Nashville, TN
  • Johnny Hudson & Jennifer Elliott | Catch 22 Bar | Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Deanna Johnson | Fowler Liquors | Fowler, IN
  • David LiSacchi | Midnight Liquors | Tonawanda, NY
  • Massachusetts Retailer Plaintiffs in the 2020 Ballot Initiative Lawsuit | Massachusetts Package Stores Association | Westborough, MA
  • Justine Palmer | The Pour House/Midtown Tavern | Bozeman, MT
  • Jay Patel | Liquor at Ovation | Davenport, FL
  • Roshan Patel | C-Mart Spirits | Northport, AL
  • Brad Schinke | Kamps Bar & Grill | Combined Locks, WI
  • Jimmy Spiropoulos | Town Center Market | Riverdale, MD
  • Scott Sturgeon | Party Stop, Inc. | Amarillo, TX


The 2021 ABL Retailers of the Year include:

  • Jennifer Collison | Local Folks | Burlington, WI
  • Neal Pascale | Pascale’s Liquors | Liverpool, NY
  • Robert Selby | Kappy’s Fine Wine & Spirits | Everett, MA
  • Henry Tucker | Tuckers’ Southside Package & Lounge | Lakeland, FL
  • Kent Wiese | The Corner Keg | Highland, IL


The 2022 ABL Retailers of the Year include:

  • Stacy Barr & Mark Barr | Big Mike’s | Big Spring, TX
  • Marshele Burgess | Rips’s Country Inn | Bowie, MD
  • Judd Campbell | Hotel Wolf | Saratoga, WY
  • Meghan Cimini-Jones | Yankee Spirits | Sturbridge, MA
  • Connie Cornmesser | Hey Bryan’s | East Moline, IL
  • David Dean | Friendship Package | Opp, AL
  • Don Mjelde | Richard Crainiums | Green Bay, WI
  • Mark Notarius | Premium Wine & Spirits | Williamsville, NY
  • Gary Reckers | Top Shelf Liquors | Milton, GA
  • Travis Scheidt | Cork Liquors | Columbus, IN
  • Neal Simms & The Simms Family | B&S Liquors | Panama City, FL
  • Jeff Sirkin | Gallette’s | Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Jimmy Spiropoulos | Town Center Market | Riverdale, MD


ABL congratulates all of the honored businesses and licensees for their outstanding and continued contributions to their communities and the beverage alcohol the industry.


ABL Elects New Board President, Bobby Greenawalt; Celebrates 20 Years at Annual Meeting

BETHESDA, MD – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) celebrated its 20th anniversary of representing independent on- and off-premise beer, wine and spirits retailers at the ABL Annual Meeting this July in New Orleans.  ABL also welcomed its new President, Bobby Greenawalt of B&B Beverage Management in Auburn, Alabama, who was elected to a two-year term.

“As a former president of the Alabama Beverage Licensees Association and with his experience as an ABL Vice President and Chairman of the ABL Communications & Membership Committee, Bobby brings his knowledge of ABL and the industry to his new role,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.  “I’m excited to get to work with him as ABL and retailers chart a course in the rapidly evolving alcohol marketplace.”

Greenawalt’s B&B Beverage Management is a full-service beverage company that facilitates on premise events throughout the country such as weddings, tailgates, global sporting events, venue management, and more.  Driven by mission of providing safe, professional, and responsible service of alcoholic beverages, B&B Beverage Management is a leader in alcohol service at large scale events.

“I am honored to be elected as ABL’s next President,” said Greenawalt.  “In a time of legislative uncertainty in the alcohol industry, having the trust of America’s beverage licensees is humbling and I am excited to lead the efforts alongside the ABL staff and Board of Directors to promote and protect their interests.  Promoting fair and legal industry practices while protecting the sanctity of the Three-Tier System is a priority of ABL and I look forward to dedicating my time to those efforts.”

“I look forward to meeting with leaders of other beverage alcohol organizations and companies to share ABL members’ views and express our interest in working together to preserve and grow the hospitality industry,” Greenawalt added.

ABL recognized beverage retailers and leaders at the meeting for their achievements:

  • The ABL Top Shelf Award recognized “Independent Beverage Retailers” who over the past two years have fought to keep their businesses afloat, staff employed, and adapted their business models to serve their communities.


  • The ABL President’s Award was presented to Pete Madland of the Tavern League of Wisconsin for his more than four decades of service to ABL, its predecessor associations and the Tavern League.


  • The ABL President’s Award was also presented to Mike Moser of the Wyoming State Liquor Association (WSLA) for his long-time chairmanship of the ABL Government Affairs Committee, his service on the ABL Board of Directors and his success as the leader of WSLA.


  • The ABL Retailer of the Year Awards for 2020, 2021 and 2022 were presented to those beverage retailers who excel in advocacy; responsible sales and service; community engagement; and support of their state retail beverage associations.


Annual Meeting attendees heard from an array of speakers from the public and private sectors who covered a wide range of topics.  Industry analysts Danny Brager and Dale Stratton provided an overview of beverage industry trends and economics, and where the beverage business is headed.  Chris Black from Falling Rock Tap House shared his views on how bars and taverns can compete with tap rooms, while J.T. Griffin offered his perspective on impaired driving laws and regulations based on his deep policy experience.  Attendees also learned about the issues facing liquor law enforcement agencies from Carrie Christofes of the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association.

ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich spent time on-stage interviewing Dave Christman of the National Beer Wholesalers Association on trends in state alcohol policy, and talked with Carrie May from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) on TTB priorities – including the Treasury Department’s report on competition in the alcohol industry.  Harry Schuhmacher and Sarah Barrett, respectively from Beer Business Daily and Wine & Spirits Daily, closed the general session with their reflections on a range of issues from ready-to-drink (RTD) products to other emerging trends in the marketplace.

In addition to conference support from brewing industry leaders Anheuser-Busch and Molson-Coors, meeting attendees participated in a tour and tasting experience at Sazerac House, where they learned about the growth of cocktail culture while enjoying some of signature drinks of New Orleans.

The annual meeting also saw the election of a new slate of leadership to the ABL Executive Committee.  Joining President Greenawalt on the ABL Executive Committee are Josh Hammond of Buster’s Liquors & Wines in Memphis, Tennessee, who will serve as Vice President – Off-Premise; Steve Morris of Jorgenson’s Restaurant & Lounge in Helena, Montana who will serve as Vice President – On-Premise; and Keith Kern of Jimmy’s Saloon in Superior, Wisconsin who will serve as an At-Large member of the Executive Committee.  J.J. Moran, of the Four Winds Liquor & Lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming, will transition from ABL President to immediate Past-President and continue his service on the ABL Executive Committee.

For these newly elected ABL officers, leadership roles are nothing new.  Josh Hammond is the past-president of the Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association.  Steve Morris is a past-president of both ABL and the Montana Tavern Association.  Keith Kern is currently serving as the President of the Tavern League of Wisconsin and served for five years on the Superior, Wisconsin City Council.

They join Treasurer Mat Dinsmore of Wilbur’s Total Beverage in Fort Collins, Colorado; Vice President Jay Gesner of Souse’s Lounge in Rockford, Illinois; Vice President Juan Negrin of Super Wine Warehouse in Paterson, New Jersey; and At-Large member Terry Harvath of the Wishing Well Bar & Grill in Appleton, Wisconsin on the ABL Executive Committee.


ABL Statement on Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Upholding North Carolina Alcohol Shipping Law

June 1, 2022 – Bethesda, MD – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) issued the following statement in response to an opinion by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding North Carolina’s alcohol shipping law:

“With its ruling today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals joined the Sixth Circuit, Eight Circuit, and most of the beverage alcohol industry in recognizing the primacy of the 21st Amendment in Constitutional challenges to state alcohol laws.

“The 4th Circuit’s thorough and considered opinion made clear that differences between states’ three-tier systems are acceptable, as is a state’s ‘interest in preserving its three-tier system for alcohol distribution.’

“As the court points out: ‘the Twenty-first Amendment is not an either-or proposition. Rather, it ‘gives each State leeway in choosing the alcohol-related public health and safety measures that its citizens find desirable.’ Put simply, there is no single ‘one size fits all’ three-tier system that a state must either adhere to or abandon entirely.’

“This ruling should encourage state alcohol regulators and attorneys general to respectively enforce and defend legitimate state alcohol laws that advance public health and safety or other legitimate grounds.  It is also another rejection of repeatedly failed and vexatious alcohol shipping litigation that wastes precious public resources.”

Have You Registered for the ABL Annual Meeting?

Celebrate 20 Years of ABL on July 10-11 in New Orleans

Bethesda, MD – Registration is open for the ABL Annual Meeting to be held July 10-11, 2022 at the Hilton New Orleans St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The meeting will mark ABL’s 20th anniversary, having united independent on- and off-premise beverage licensees since 2002. The ABL Annual Meeting returns after a two-year pandemic-driven hiatus and is at once a sign of the resilience of the hospitality industry and a reminder of the work that needs to be done to bring many in the industry back to a position where they can serve their customers and communities.

The meeting features a range of speakers and opportunities for attendees to network with their fellow retailers and others in the beverage alcohol industry. The meeting program examines key issues facing independent beverage retailers including short-term and long-lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the retail alcohol market; competition issues within the alcohol industry; legal, regulatory, and legislative developments in Congress and the states; and a host of other important topics that are shaping the beverage alcohol marketplace.

2022 ABL Annual Meeting sessions and speakers include:


  • COVID-19’s Impact on the Alcohol Industry – Danny Brager, Owner, Brager Beverage Alcohol Consulting; Dale Stratton, Owner, Five Points Consulting LLC


  • On-Premise Focus: Competing with Taprooms – Chris Black, Cofounder, Falling Rock Tap House


  • Direct-To-Consumer Case Study: Michigan – Spencer Nevins, President, Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association


  • Covering the Industry: Latest Trends in Beverage Alcohol Business – Harry Schuhmacher, Publisher & Owner, Beer Business Daily; Sarah Barrett, Executive Editor, Wine & Spirits Daily


  • Impaired Driving Policy – What’s Driving the Discussion? –T. Griffin, Principal, Griffin Strategies, LLC


  • Federal Alcohol Regulatory Update – David Wulf, Deputy Administrator, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)


  • The Liquor Law Enforcement Landscape – Carrie Christofes, Executive Director, National Liquor Law Enforcement Association


The ABL Annual Meeting will also feature networking and social events from sponsors including the American Distilled Spirits Alliance, Anheuser-Busch, iControl, Molson Coors Beverage Company and Sazerac Co.

Attendees will have the opportunity to connect with colleagues at the Opening Night Reception on Sunday, July 10 while also enjoying a wide range of industry products from the following supporters: Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Campari Group, Diageo, Dripping Springs Distilling, E&J Gallo Winery, Edrington, Heaven Hill Brands, Infinium Spirits, Mast-Jagermeister US, LALO, Luxco, Pernod Ricard USA, Proximo, Ranch Rider Spirits Co., Remy Cointreau, Samson & Surrey, Serralles USA, Stoli, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and William Grant & Sons.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available.  Please contact Susan Duffy at 301-956-3657 for more information.

Registration is open and is $299 per person.  Click to REGISTER for the ABL Annual Meeting.  Make sure to BOOK YOUR ROOM at the Hilton New Orleans St. Charles Avenue to receive the ABL Annual Meeting rate of $169/night++.



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 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

May is Tavern Month: Support Local Bars & Taverns with Legislation to Replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

BETHESDA, MD – For the 69th consecutive year, May is Tavern Month and bars and taverns across the United States are celebrating the positive impact they have on their local economies, the good jobs they provide and the key role they play in maintaining the social discourse of the country.

But despite dutifully and gladly serving friends, neighbors, and communities, all is not well for the “Friendliest Place in Town.”

Many bars and taverns face considerable challenges as they navigate the road to pre-pandemic business levels including rampant inflation, job shortages, and supply chain disruptions.  These obstacles to growth are in addition to paying back loans and debt taken on just to keep their businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.  With over 90,000 restaurants and bars closing during the pandemic, and thousands more on the precipice of shuttering their doors for good, there’s little time left to preserve such an important sector of the American economy.

“From March 2020 through March 2021, bar and restaurant sales of beer, wine and spirits declined by $90 billion,” ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.  “The level of loss was catastrophic for many small, single-unit operators who still find themselves financially digging out in the face of heightening inflation, supply chain challenges and labor shortages that show no sign of waning.”

That’s why “America’s Beer, Wine and Spirits Retailers” are calling on Congress to pass legislation that would allocate funds to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and meet the needs of hard-hit hospitality businesses that applied for federal relief over a year ago.  Only one-third of businesses that applied received relief before the $28.6 billion fund was depleted.

This April, the House of Representatives passed the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022 (H.R. 3807), which would allocate $42 billion for the RRF. Now, the Senate must do its part by passing a relief measure.  By doing so, Congress will be investing in American small businesses owners through a proven Small Business Administration program that has already succeeded in keeping over 100,000 bars and restaurants open.

“Supporting and celebrating America’s bars and taverns this May means getting them the resources they need to remain some of America’s last Main Street businesses,” said Bodnovich.  “Hopefully, the worst of COVID-19 is behind us, but its negative impact lingers for tens of thousands of small businesses left behind when federal relief funds ran dry in 2021. Beverage licensees are asking Congress to finish the job it started last year.”

This May, join ABL and state associations representing bars and taverns in supporting hospitality businesses as they fight to keep serving their communities.  Congress needs to know that the great American traditions of conviviality and hospitality are at stake, and there’s no better place to continue those than at a local tavern, the Friendliest Place in Town.

Beverage Alcohol Retailers Alert State Legislators & Regulators of Liquor Supplier Direct-To-Consumer Push

Public Safety, Competition and Vibrant Alcohol Marketplace Hang in the Balance

BETHESDA, MD – March 31, 2022 – As the 2022 legislative season continues in state capitals across the country, America’s beer, wine and spirits retailers are alerting state legislators about a growing push to unnecessarily and fundamentally change state-based beverage alcohol markets that are already meeting consumer needs and the public safety standards of communities.

Campaigns to rapidly implement Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) liquor sales – a liquor supplier shipping alcohol that has not gone through a three-tier system of checks and balances, across state lines via common carrier directly to an end user – are becoming more prevalent.

Retail beverage licensees are speaking up to educate and inform their state legislators of the problems that would come with changing these laws and creating a virtually unregulated alcohol market, ripe for dangerous illegal alcohol and counterfeiting, problems that would be poised to grow should global supplier DTC shipping come to pass.

These campaigns are often accompanied by claims that the COVID-19 crisis has made expanded supplier DTC access a necessity. But data show that alcohol suppliers – and liquor manufacturers in particular – have enjoyed record profits and growth for years. Current liquor licensing and sales regulations have not impeded the significant growth of the liquor industry, which has seen supplier gross revenues soar from $18.2 billion in 2007 to $31.2 billion in 2020 and the number of new craft distilleries in the U.S. grow to more than 2,000. That success has been possible because of the very system threatened by supplier DTC sales.

“For the past few years, traditional beverage licensees have seen an increasing push by some alcohol suppliers to subvert existing alcohol sales and distribution systems in order to move sales away from local small beverage businesses,” said John Bodnovich, Executive Director of American Beverage Licensees (ABL).

“These efforts threaten the existence of thousands of brick-and-mortar beverage retailers and the broader American alcohol ecosystem that brings choice and value to consumers.  They also jeopardize revenue to businesses and government, and compliance with state laws designed for the commerce of an age-restricted product.”

Liquor manufacturers point to the DTC market for wineries, arguing that its growth has not had a negative impact. To the contrary, what more lawmakers are finding based on reports from state alcohol regulators and other parties is that there are significant problems with illegal wine and alcohol shipping. States are grappling with waves of illegal wine shipments that have spurred at least two states – Michigan and Ohio – to invoke the 21st Amendment Enforcement Act to pursue illegal wine shippers. In Michigan in 2019, more than 2.2 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into the state and of those bottles, 734,365 were shipped illegally.

Brand-building beverage retailers appreciate the enormous responsibility that comes with safely selling and serving alcohol, and the consequences they face should they not do so. Brick-and-mortar beverage alcohol retailers in every state are subject to enforcement action on a regular basis, as well as the threat of fines, closure, and license revocation.

A Cautionary Tale

In Kentucky, following the narrow passage of a highly controversial spirits DTC bill in 2020, the playing field has been tilted significantly against beverage retailers, who are also concerned that average consumers – their customers – are losing out.

Since the law went into effect, beverage retailers in the state have seen a sharp decline in access to in-state bourbon products that their customers rightfully expect them to have in stock. Brick-and-mortar retailers in Kentucky report that the allotment for premium bourbons has decreased as much as 60% in the last year. With suppliers channeling more desirable and profitable products into their own DTC platforms, everyday liquor store customers are being left behind.

Kentucky legislation has also limited the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control Board’s DTC enforcement powers. There remains little, if any, published proof of local taxes being collected on DTC shipments. (In Kentucky, smaller towns collect a regulatory fee to cover the town’s cost to regulate alcohol.) Since there are no carrier reporting laws in Kentucky, it remains unclear if alcohol is being shipped to dry counties and to what extent common carriers are checking IDs.

A Solution in Search of a Problem

As evidenced by the liquor industry’s phenomenal growth in recent years, which should be a benefit to all those in the industry, the lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is not that state beverage alcohol systems are broken and should be fixed by giving the largest industry firms an anticompetitive advantage through supplier DTC sales.

What the pandemic made clear is that beverage alcohol systems in the U.S. work provided there are enough products to sell, on- and off-premise retailers are allowed to keep their doors open, and enforcement of alcohol laws is applied evenly.

The growth of e-commerce has also underscored what beverage retailers have known for years: scarce enforcement resources for state alcohol beverage control agencies combined with a push by alcohol suppliers for direct-to-consumer alcohol shipping and greater saturation of points of sale is a serious threat to a competitive and safe alcohol marketplace.

“Our message to those faced with a coordinated, national liquor DTC campaign is to examine the totality of your state’s beverage alcohol marketplace and the interests of all stakeholders – including customers but also other local businesses in the beverage alcohol supply chain, revenue collectors, public health and safety officials, alcohol regulators and law enforcement,’” said Bodnovich.

“Beverage retailers who are in their stores or bars everyday continue to adapt and evolve to meet consumers where they are and will fight for a balanced alcohol marketplace that delivers the most diverse range of products; rewards those who are responsible purveyors and stewards to their local communities; and creates profitability for hundreds of thousands of licensed beverage alcohol businesses that support millions of jobs across multiple sectors of the American economy.”


RELEASE: Beverage Licensees Urge Congress to Provide COVID-19 Relief to Hospitality Businesses

BETHESDA, MD – February 24, 2022 – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) took part today in a day of action to seek federal relief for hospitality industry business that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Nearly two years since the onset of the pandemic, many bars, taverns and independent restaurants remain underwater and are struggling to get back on their feet, pay off debt, or otherwise recover from the significant setbacks caused by the pandemic.

As Congress considers legislation to fund the government and federal programs, now is the time for lawmakers to act in support of the independent small businesses they represent and finish the work they began with the American Rescue Plan Act nearly a one year ago.

While federal legislation in March 2021 provided $28 billion in relief to the hospitality industry through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), it fell far short of meeting the need of the industry.  This was demonstrated by 278,000 applicants requesting $72 billion in aid – almost three times the funds approved by Congress.

“It may seem to some that things are returning to normal, and we’re hopeful that we’re on the right path with COVID-19, but for bars, taverns and other hospitality industry businesses the effects of the pandemic are still very real and threaten thousands of local small businesses,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.

“We recognize and appreciate the relief that was provided last year, but the job is not finished.  More can and should be done by Congress to bring back the vibrant hospitality industry that we knew before the global pandemic and save tens of thousands of small businesses.”

Pandemic mitigation efforts in states and cities have had a chilling effect on the bar and restaurant business, keeping customers aways and limiting the ability of these businesses to pay rent, afford increasingly expensive products and hire workers.  According to a National Restaurant Association survey, 52% of operators say their sales volume in October 2021 was lower than it was in October 2019.

“It’s a Hobson’s choice for many bars and restaurants,” said Bodnovich. “They can invest in their business in an environment where restrictions limit their ability to attract customers, pay the rent, or pay off debt; or they can cut menus and service to the bone and hope that customers still visit the business.  This is unsustainable for many hospitality entrepreneurs who have otherwise done their best to hold on to their livelihoods over the last two years.”

Earlier today, ABL sent a letter to members of Congress reminding it of the needs of hospitality industry constituents, and the solution that is available.  As the letter states, we “strongly urge you to support and pass legislation that would replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to meet the clearly demonstrated needs to of the hospitality businesses you represent.  Time is running short for many of these Main Street businesses, and you hold the power to save American bars and restaurants.  Please stand with these local small businesses that serve communities in every state with jobs, tax revenue and economic stimulation.”

Those who are in interested in supporting local hospitality businesses can visit the ABL website for materials or either here or here to contact members of Congress.


RELEASE: ABL Announces 2022 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, July 10-11

BETHESDA, MD – February 16, 2022 – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) announced today that it will return to New Orleans, Louisiana for the 2022 ABL Annual Meeting on July 10-11, 2022.  The meeting will be held at the Hilton New Orleans St. Charles Avenue and will feature a range of speakers and opportunities for attendees to network with their fellow retailers and others in the beverage alcohol industry.

“After the last two years and what everyone has been through with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are thrilled to return to New Orleans to rekindle old friendships and renew the shared sense of purpose that drives hardworking, independent bar, tavern and package store owners,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.

“ABL will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this July, which will give us a chance to look back on the lessons of the past, but more importantly look forward to how beverage licensees can best shape the future of their industry.”

The meeting program will examine key issues facing independent beverage retailers including short-term and long-lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the retail alcohol market; competition issues within the alcohol industry; legal, regulatory, and legislative developments in Congress and the states; and a host of other important topics that are shaping the beverage alcohol marketplace.  Meeting attendees will be able to bring insights and information back to their states and businesses to help them build on their success.

Additional information – including registration and room rates, speakers, schedule, and hospitality events – will be announced in the coming weeks and months. For the latest updates and information on the 2022 ABL Annual Meeting, be sure to visit


RELEASE: Beverage Licensees’ Statement on NHTSA Report on Utah’s .05 BAC Law

February 14, 2022 – Bethesda, MD – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) issued the following statement in response to the release of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report evaluating Utah’s .05% BAC per se law:

“For decades, beverage licensees have urged adult consumers to drink responsibly and drive responsibly.  Through staff training, support of programs like SafeRide, and partnering with ride share companies, beverage retailers and other like-minded groups are part of an effort that has seen drunk driving fatalities on our nation’s roadways decrease 52% since 1982.[1]  Still, beverage licensees recognize that despite this progress, there is more work to be done to address this problem.

“It’s good news that roadways are getting safer in Utah, but the NHTSA study does not prove all the progress is due to just one law.  The study falls short of being definitive about Utah’s .05% BAC law’s role in reducing traffic fatalities as evidenced by “Figure 1. Fatalities per 100 Million VMT (FARS Data).”[2]  As the chart shows, a decline in Utah fatalities began as early as the last half of 2014, more than three years before the .05% BAC law went into effect on December 30, 2018.  The multi-year downward trend suggests that other traffic safety approaches were already in place to help make roadways safer.  It is a big leap to assume that the reductions were all due to the .05% BAC law, particularly when the study fails to breakdown how many traffic fatalities were due to alcohol.

“As legislators in other states evaluate ways to address drunk driving, they should be using complete data to make decisions.  States need to see the full picture before making decisions, which includes recognizing that Utah remains an outlier among all other states that currently maintain .08% BAC drunk driving limits.  Lawmakers and highway safety stakeholders in all but one state have identified that cutting the legal limit nearly in half is not the approach that most sensible Americans support, nor the most effective way to address long-term drunk driving problems.

“At the federal level, Congress opted against including .05% BAC language in bipartisan transportation legislation that passed in November 2021, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) has signaled that its strategy does not include lowering per se BAC laws to .05% BAC. The DOT has, however, indicated that roughly two thirds of all alcohol impaired fatalities involve high blood alcohol levels with a BAC > 0.15%.[3]

“Just as any technology for new vehicles should not function as a deterrent to reasonable adults who wish to responsibly enjoy their favorite beer, wine or cocktail at their local bar, restaurant, or neighbor’s home, states should also refrain from using incomplete data to implement laws that target today’s responsible adult consumers.”