Covington changes alcohol ordinance

COVINGTON — The Covington City Council has finalized an update to the city’s alcohol ordinance to allow licensing for on-premises wine and beer tastings, licensing for caterers to serve alcohol off-premises and temporary permits for nonprofits to sell alcohol at events to benefit a charitable or civic organization.

The ordinance update allows businesses in city limits to obtain licenses to hold wine and beer tastings on premises, with certain limitations.

Wine sampling is limited to wine sold on premises or in conjunction with wine education classes and sampling designed to promote wine appreciation and education. Tastings can be done only at a wine counter area that is no more than 10 percent of the entire floor area of the premises. Samples can’t exceed 2 ounces, and customers are limited to 8 ounces in a two-hour period.

“They would not be able to just stay in there and drink wine all day,” Assistant City Attorney Frank Turner Jr. previoulsy said.

Customers also are not allowed to leave the business with an open container.

Businesses that hold tastings will have to obtain both an off-premises and on-premises consumption license.

Growler malt beverage tastings are also allowed. Restrictions mimic those set for wine tastings. Growlers of up to 2 liters can be filled with keg beer, sealed and taken home for consumption.

Currently, only golf courses, restaurants with 50 percent of revenue from food sales or hotel lounges can obtain an on-premises license, said Turner.

The ordinance change was requested by Lisa Skinner Phillips, who is opening a wine specialty shop, The Cork Boutique and Gifts, on the Square in late September or early October.

“We did request the ordinance be revised simply because it’s so much easier for us to be able to allow tastings so that we can convince the customer to purchase a different type of wine if they’ve never had it before,” Phillips previously told the Citizen.

The ordinance amendment also allows caterers to sell alcohol at permitted special events on private property. Revenue from sales at special events is included in the calculation of food versus alcohol sales for any caterer who holds an alcohol license as a restaurant. Caterers seeking to serve alcohol must first be permitted as a food caterer in accordance with state law and have to apply for a separate off-premises license to sell alcohol at an authorized and permitted special event. Sales cannot be made at events on public property. Also, nonprofits are allowed to get a one-day temporary permit up to two times a year to sell alcohol at events to benefit a charitable or civic organization.