Planning a big holiday party with family and friends this Christmas or New Year’s Day? Be sure to shop early for your alcohol and liquor.
A Texas law bans the sale and serving of any liquor Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Sundays. Texas is one of 24 states to have a liquor ban.
In addition, if any of those holidays falls on a Sunday, sales also are banned the following Monday.
This is the case this year.
Wine and beer, however, may be sold at grocery stores and other retailers on holidays, though they can’t be bought before 10 a.m. Sundays. (Customers had to wait until noon Sundays until the Texas Legislature in 2021 passed House Bill 1518 to amend the Alcoholic Beverage Code).
Grocery stores typically will be closed Christmas but open regular hours New Year’s Day.
When the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution repealed Prohibition in 1933, states took charge of regulating the alcoholic beverage industry. The Texas Legislature passed the Texas Liquor Control Act, creating the Texas Liquor Control Board in 1935.
The agency was renamed the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in 1970 and the Liquor Control Act was updated in 1977, becoming the Alcoholic Beverage Code.
Legislators added Christmas Day to the ban in 1967 and added Thanksgiving and New Year’s in 1979.
So if you’re in charge of drinks and wait until the last minute, you might be left empty-handed.
Who’s buying for who?
Two Abilene liquor store owners said Christmas business is split 50-50 between purchases for the customer or for a gift or party.
“They may be having a party and want to stock up on the bar,” said Johnny Johnson, of Big Johnson Liquor & Beer, in southwest Abilene.
He noted people these days are more likely to stay home or go to a small gathering than go out on the town to celebrate. That was a trend that only increased during the pandemic. And, he said, it’s cheaper, too.
Vongthak Yon, who owns D&D Liquor in mid-town Abilene, said gift sets are popular, and those are arriving. He charges the same price as a single purchase of the spirit.
Yon took over the store, which has been at its location on Butternut Street since 2013, from his parents just this year. Thus, he is anxious to see how business is during the holidays.
For 2022, it has been good year, he said.
Johnson urged early purchases for two reasons.
One is supply chain issues. What you may want may be in limited supply or not available at all when you want it.
Also, the day before a holiday can be crazy busy.
Remember, too, that liquor stores by law have to close at 9 p.m. Beer and wine can be sold later – to midnight weekdays and to 1 a.m. Saturdays elsewhere.
Both Johnson and Yon said they will miss business being closed for consecutive days.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Johnson said of being closed Monday.
Both Johnson and Yon said Crown Royal products are the biggest sellers during the holidays. The blended Canadian whiskey now comes in apple, peach, vanilla and, for a limited time, salted caramel flavors.
Whiskeys are big sellers this time of year, while vodka may lead the way in the summer.
But, Johnson said, flavored vodkas are making that spirit a year-round purchase.
Celebrity endorsed or owned products also are big – for fans or as a gift for fans, he added.
Those include Number Juan Tequila (comedian Ron White), a bourbon-rye blend called Blackened (the rock band Metallica) and Blue Chair Bay rums (country singer Kenny Chesney, who fully owns the company).
Former football player-turned-TV analyst Terry Bradshaw even has his own label now: Bradshaw Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife, Amy, have High Rock, a vodka distilled and bottled in Tennessee.
The list goes on.
– Greg Jaklewicz of the Abilene Reporter-News contributed to this report.
Liquor stores in Abilene
Here is where you can buy spirts and more in Abilene. There are 16 locations, listed alphabetically.
- Abby’s Bottles & Brew, 5194 Buffalo Gap Road
- Abilene North Liquor, 2990 Pine St.
- Best Price Liquor, 3502 North Sixth St.
- Big Country Beer, Wine + Tobacco, 2502 North First St.
- Big Johnson Liquor & Beer, 3351 Turner Plaza Dr.
- D&D Liquor Store, 855 Butternut St.
- FILO LIquors, 4301 Rio Mesa Dr.
- H&H Beverage Liquor, Beer & Wine, 1809 State Highway 351 and 3394 Rebecca Lane
- Koolerz Liquor Store, 2402 S. Treadaway Blvd.
- Lone Star Spirits, 3283 South 14th St.
- Oasis Spirits & Wines, 2749 South First St.
- Pinkie’s Liquor, 925 E. Highway 80 and 5050 U.S. Highway 277
- The Water Hole, 2017 No. Treadaway Blvd.
- Waterhole, 2604 Barrow St.