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Serving of alcoholic beverages 5

Serving beverages in an approved serving area

Serving of alcoholic beverages may be carried out only by delivering them to customers for consumption in an approved serving area. The serving area must be marked off or marked so that its boundaries are clearly discernible to the customers if the serving area cannot be perceived clearly otherwise. (Alcohol Act, Section 36).  

A serving licence may be granted to two or more applicants in the same serving area if one applicant assumes responsibility for supervision of the serving area (Alcohol Act, Section 19). However, no alcohol may be served in such a shared serving area after 1:30 (Alcohol Act, Section 44). 

Only alcoholic beverages sold and served for consumption by the licence holder may be consumed in the serving area. Alcoholic beverages sold as retail products by the licence holder may not be consumed in the serving area. (Alcohol Act, Sections 3 and 36).  

Alcoholic beverages served to the customer may not be taken or consumed out of the serving area. In approving a serving area, the licensing authority may allow customers to transport alcoholic beverages from one serving area to another within the licensed premises as approved in the licence holder’s self-supervision plan. Approval of the licensing authority for customers transporting alcoholic beverages may also be applied for in connection with an existing serving licence. (Alcohol Act, Section 36). If a licence holder or an employee of licensed premises hands over alcoholic beverages for consumption outside the premises without a licence for the retail sale of said beverages, he/she may be sentenced for an alcohol offence (Criminal Code, Chapter 50 a). 

The self-supervision plan for the licensed premises must describe the procedures used on the premises to supervise compliance with said prohibitions and limitations (Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Section 3). 

The licensing authority may impose conditions and limitations with respect to the serving area, customer capacity and prevention of noise disturbances depending on the location, special nature of operations or other special circumstances if such conditions and limitations are necessary in order to prevent disturbance and noise nuisances in the residential environment, to ensure supervision in the premises where serving takes place and in their vicinity, or to ensure public order and safety.

Kitchen alcohol

A restaurant can apply for a licence to use kitchen alcohol in food preparation. Kitchen alcohol is meant to be used solely in cooking, and it is free of alcohol tax. The use of tax-free kitchen alcohol for mixing drinks or cocktails is prohibited. Breaking this prohibition leads to the withdrawal of the serving and kitchen alcohol licence.   

The licence has to be applied for from Valvira. The condition for granting the licence is that the need for kitchen alcohol is justifiable and that the premises meet the set requirements.   

A report on the intended use of the alcohol and annual procurement needs (the types of alcohol, litres by type and the recipes) has to be attached to the application. 

The use and stocks of kitchen alcohol have to be recorded and it has to be possible to find out afterwards the amount and type of alcohol used for cooking from the licence holder’s records.  

Applying for a kitchen alcohol licence for minor use in food preparation is not profitable as a fee is charged for handling the licence application and a licence holder is charged an annual supervision fee as well.  

Alcoholic beverages originally acquired for serving can be transferred to kitchen use against receipt, and they can be used for cooking. Alcoholic beverages procured for serving can be used as raw materials in food preparation, in which case their price must be included in the price of the food, or they can be served as a part of the food portion and billed according to the price list. Any use of alcoholic beverages originally acquired for serving and then used for food preparation must be documented. The licence holder’s records have to include information about the amount and type of alcohol used for cooking.


Updated: 22.1.2019