All NYC Movie Theaters Can Now Sell Beer and Wine

Coming soon to a theater near you: alcohol.

New Yorkers will soon be able to order beer and wine as they sit down to see the latest movies at theaters across the state.

The State Liquor Authority unanimously voted this week to allow movie theater owners to apply for beer and wine licenses. The ruling clears the path for NYC movie theaters to sell alcoholic beverages in the theaters themselves, as well as in bars and at concession stands in the cinemas’ lobbies, and theater owners will be able to start the application process for a license immediately.

Theaters that previously served alcohol in NYC were only allowed to do so under a restaurant license, which would be granted to spaces with a full kitchen and waitstaff to bring the alcohol to customers in their seats, or a tavern license, which limited drinking to a table.

Under the new rule, theaters serving popcorn and other concessions are eligible to sell wine, beer, and cider as long as it isn’t the businesses’ “prime source of revenue,” but liquor sales are still not permitted without a restaurant license.

Theaters have been calling on the SLA to relax laws and grant them beer, wine, and liquor licenses for years. Even notable drinking and screening spots like Nitehawk Cinema had to battle the agency for the right to sell alcohol under their liquor license upon opening in 2011, despite operating a full kitchen and serving guests at their seats.

Now, more than a decade later, theaters across the city will be allowed to offer a similar service—a new rule that provides a welcome bit of respite as theaters have been pummeled by the ongoing pandemic for nearly two years.

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Liz Provencher is an associate editor at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter or see what she eats on Instagram.