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Monitoring Alcohol Beverages-to-Go in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, all alcohol beverage sales must occur at an approved location. The approved location is called the premises, which is defined as “the area described in a license or permit.”i Examples of licensed premises include the parts of a bar, restaurant, or store where alcohol beverages are sold, served, or stored. If a business wants to bring alcohol to an outside location, the business can only do so if its license or permit specifically describes that outside location, such as a beer garden, sidewalk café, or parking spot. The sale of alcohol beverages is only authorized through “face-to-face sales to consumers at the premises described in the retail license or permit.”ii

Three aspects of the sale are required for a retail alcohol beverage purchase to be legal in Wisconsin.

They are the followingiii:

  1. The sale takes place face-to-face on premises for which there is a valid alcohol retail license or permit.
  2. The purchaser is of legal drinking age (21 or older) and not intoxicated.
  3. The seller is a licensed operator or is under the immediate supervision of a licensed operator.

Recently, lawmakers and alcohol retailers have greatly expanded alcohol availability. Those in public health or substance misuse prevention agree that increased access and availability of alcohol can contribute to excessive alcohol use.

The last five years have seen increasing popularity of new ways of making alcohol more available to more people, more often. Increased availability can cause more alcohol related problems so enforcement is critical to ensure proper sales practices. A brief explanation of several trending methods follows.

  • Click & Collect
  • Curbside or parking lot delivery
  • Cocktails-to-go
  • Home delivery

View Monitoring Alcohol Beverages-to-Go in Wisconsin (PDF)

Click & Collect

How we shop has changed, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Grocery stores and general retailers with large grocery sections were expanding their online ordering and pick-up services, known in the industry as “Click & Collect.” During the pandemic, we saw dramatic increases for online ordering and parking lot pick-up, as more people sought contactless methods to get groceries and other merchandise. If retailers wish to include alcohol in their Click & Collect sales, they must take specific actions at the municipal level to comply with state law. Many retailers continue to seek the necessary municipal approval to add alcohol sales to their online grocery offerings.

However, adding alcohol to Click & Collect sales can unintentionally increase youth access to alcohol and increase excessive alcohol use. Public safety and health require a municipality to carefully consider if and how to manage Click & Collect alcohol sales.

Click & Collect Alcohol Sales in Wisconsin

By Julia Sherman, Founder of the Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project
March 19, 2018

View the Click & Collect Alcohol Sales in Wisconsin summary (PDF)

Click & Collect Alcohol Policy Checklist

This checklist, originally created in 2018 and revised in 2022, is a supplement to Julia Sherman’s 2018 summary, Click & Collect Alcohol Sales in Wisconsin, and intended to be used after reading the summary.

View the Click & Collect Alcohol Policy checklist (PDF)

Wisconsin Growler Law: Assessing Existing Policies and Gaps in Policy

Wisconsin has a statutory and regulatory gap surrounding growler sales. The surge in alcohol sales for off-premises consumption in Wisconsin since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic exposed this gap.

Learn more about WisAPP's assessment of existing policies and gaps in policy (PDF)


iWis. Stat. § 125.02(14m).
iiWis. Stat. §§ 125.272, 125.51(6). There are a few exceptions to the face-to-face sales requirement, that are specifically listed in the Wisconsin Statutes, specifically for stocking of hotel rooms, coliseum suites, specific locations in the Ozaukee County fairgrounds, and supplying of caterers.
iiiClaire Silverman, 2018, Municipal Regulation of “Click and Collect” Alcohol Sales (PDF), The Municipality.