Experiences involving alcohol in Chicago
These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your experience, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the laws or procedures have not changed recently.*
I plan to include alcohol during my experience, is there anything I should be thinking about?
Yes. If you plan to include alcohol during your experience, we encourage you to please keep your safety, and that of your guests, front of mind.
Safe experiences do not involve providing alcohol to a guest:
- Who is under 21;
- Who will be driving or operating any type of vehicle;
- Who looks or acts inebriated;
- Who has informed you that they are ill, have a drinking problem, or do not want to participate; or
- Until after any portion of an experience involving physical activity (like yoga, swimming, hiking, biking) or activities that involve operating machinery is complete.
In addition, if you are hosting an experience with alcohol in a public venue or outdoor space, make sure it is permissible to consume alcohol in that venue and consider whether a permit is required.
Do I need a license if I serve alcohol to my guests at my home, at a private venue, or outdoors?
To sell alcohol to your guests, you either need a license under the Illinois Liquor Control Act or you need to hire a licensed caterer. Note that, for a variety of reasons, licenses are not generally available to sell alcohol at a private residence. Selling alcohol includes situations where:
- You sell alcohol to your guest directly (e.g.charging a guest for a glass of wine that you serve yourself).
- You sell alcohol to your guest indirectly ( e.g. charging for the wine you serve to your guest in your experience price).
Serving Complimentary Alcohol:
The Illinois Liquor Control Commission does not prohibit alcohol to be served at private, invitation-only events in private residences where there is no direct or indirect charge for that alcohol.
However, keep in mind that any direct or indirect charge for alcohol service without a license or permit may be a violation of Illinois law. For example, an obvious indirect charge for alcohol service
- charging one price for a meal without alcohol while charging a higher price for a meal with alcohol
- could be considered a prohibited sale by the Control Commission.
Moreover, under Illinois law, it is impermissible to give away alcoholic beverages for commercial purposes or to advertise or promote that alcohol will be provided for “free” or “complimentary” in connection with commercial activity. With that in mind, hosts should be very careful and understand the law before serving alcohol during their experience.
Generally speaking, this is a tricky area and we encourage you to check with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission and speak to a lawyer to make sure you are correctly interpreting these provisions and are following your local laws.
What if my experience takes place at a business with a liquor license, like a bar or restaurant?
You would be unlikely to run afoul of regulations if you take your guests to your favorite local bars or restaurants that are licensed under the Illinois Liquor Control Act. You can even pay for their first round of drinks there and include the cost in your experience Price. There are significant rules relating to “private functions” on a licensed premises in Illinois so we recommend that you make sure the establishment understands the rules for “party packages” when scheduling an event there.
What if my experience is BYO and I want to allow guests to bring their own alcohol?
If your experience is in your private home or other private location and it is not open to the general public, then hosting a BYO experience likely does not require a license under the Illinois Liquor Control Act. The City of Chicago has provided public guidance that it does not regulate the practice of BYOB, but that businesses that wish to engage in the practice of BYOB are responsible for ensuring that all laws and ordinances concerning the consumption of alcohol on their premises are followed.
I brew my own beer or cider. What do I need to keep in mind?
Under the Illinois Liquor Control Act, home-brewers who are over 21 years of age can make small quantities of beer or cider without a license if the person making the homebrew is not receiving compensation and the alcohol isn’t offered for sale. Unfermented “wort” is not considered a home-brewed beverage under the Act. So you may be able to teach your guests how to make wort and allow them to take their wort home with them without obtaining a license.
You may not sell guests any of your home-brewed beer, cider, or wine.
You may be allowed to offer samples of home-brewed beer or cider if you do not charge for admission and the event is held at your private residence. If you wish to hold an event involving home-brewed beer or cider at a location other than a private residence, you may be able to obtain a Homebrewer Special Event permit for a $25 fee. You may charge an admission fee for a Homebrewer Special Event, but may not charge for consumption.
That said, we encourage you to check with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission or speak to a lawyer to make sure you are correctly interpreting and following your local laws.
*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).