Operators warned of fines for unlicenced cocktail deliveries

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cocktail risk: operators must have a compounder's licence to deliver cocktails, one law firm has urged businesses (image: Getty/Roxiller)
Cocktail risk: operators must have a compounder's licence to deliver cocktails, one law firm has urged businesses (image: Getty/Roxiller)

Related tags: Cocktails, Legislation, Health and safety, Drinks, London, Law, Legal

Pub operators have been warned that they need special permission from HMRC for the off-sale of pre-mixed cocktails.

With takeaway and click-and-collect alcohol sales banned​ during England’s third national lockdown, many businesses have created new revenue streams from delivered drinks.

However, law firm TLT has cautioned businesses to make sure they have the necessary compounder’s licence or face penalties.

Businesses need this licence even if they are mixing cocktails at an on-licensed site, if the sale will be for customers off-site.

A compounder is defined as parties that “combine or mix plain spirits or previously compounded spirits with any other substance, except water, so as to distinctly alter the character or flavour of the plain spirits or compounded spirits, producing a new compounded spirit,” according to HMRC.

Under the radar

Many operators have not realised this licence is needed, according to Piers Warne, legal director at TL.

He explained: “It has largely flown under the radar, but with the recent rise in home deliveries of alcohol and specialist cocktail makers looking to supply their creations directly to consumers at home, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

"Remember this does not apply to spirits sold unmixed for mixing at home, only pre-mixed cocktails. "

Wane continued: “Operators could be in for a nasty surprise if they are deemed by HMRC to have been too slow to make the application. There is no charge for applying, so subject to complying with the requirements for producing the products in accordance with the law, this is an administrative process only."

Operators need a premises licence to sell alcohol and to be permitted to provide off-sales without relevant restrictions, Warne added.

“The current temporary Covid deregulation of off-sales, along with the suspension of conditions, will assist the majority of premises licence holders,” Warne said, “but it is worth seeking advice to ensure that this applies where otherwise your licence would not allow it.”

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails, Licensing law

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