Is Alcohol Returnable in Ohio?

I got a phone call the other day from a bride who is considering having her reception at a venue that allows couples to bring in their own alcohol.  The venue provides the bartenders but the couple supplies all the liquor, beer, and wine.  This bride was worried about running out of liquor during the reception and wanted to know if they should overbuy and then return any unused, unopened bottles to the store.  Apparently one of the bride’s friends did it for her wedding in another state and it worked out well but a different friend tried to return alcohol in Ohio and…let’s just say, their liquor cabinet is stocked for years to come!

So, can you or can’t you return liquor in the state Ohio?

Genevieve-Todd-Wedding-225Photo from Ely Brothers

To get the answer once and for all, I made a phone call and got the story straight from the people who know – The Ohio Division of Liquor Control.  Here’s the scoop:

  1. Here in Ohio, all hard liquor (anything over 42 Proof) is controlled by the state and all sales are final!  You CANNOT return unopened bottles of liquor.  This includes vodka, rum, whisky, tequila, gin…you get the idea.  If you bought it, you own it – plan wisely!  Your caterer or venue should be able to help you determine what and how much to buy.
  2. Lower proof spirits (for instance Bailey’s Irish Cream, Godiva, and Chambord – basically the alcohol the grocery store sells) are owned by the store that sells them so it is up to them to decide if they want to accept returns.
  3. Beer and wine are also owned by the store that sells them so it is up to them to decide if they want to accept returns.

To sum it up, hard liquor is NOT returnable in Ohio.  Beer, wine and other alcohol MAY BE returnable in Ohio.  Call the store and talk to the manager as to whether they will take unopened bottles back or just buy super awesome wine and beer that you won’t mind drinking copious amounts of for weeks/months to come!

So, what do you do if you live in Ohio and plan to buy hard liquor but are still afraid of buying too much?  There are some neighboring states (to the south for instance) that may allow returns so a day trip could be beneficial to your bottom line however you might want to check the laws on transporting alcohol across state lines as well as check with the store you pick to confirm they allow returns.

Cheers and enjoy your weekend!

4 Responses to “Is Alcohol Returnable in Ohio?”

  1. Donnie Says:

    I think it’s how you might have framed the question to them or shops have been misunderstanding the law for years. As far as we know, customers can bring back a flawed bottle of wine and it can be exchanged for the same wine. Customers cannot bring back a wine because they don’t like it or they have leftovers from an event. From experience, you might get difference answers from Liquor Control based on who answers the phone too based on how you asked the question.

  2. emilieduncan Says:

    Hi Donnie! Thanks for your comment. When I called Liquor Control, I explained who I was, what I do, and the exact situation as described in the post. The person who I spoke to seemed to have heard the question before and wasn’t hesitant to give me that answer so it is interesting to hear from a wine purveyor that it isn’t allowed. Will have to dig a bit further it seems!

  3. Donnie Says:

    Well, there’s a possibility of shops around town misunderstanding the law all this time. If the product is defective, the customer is allowed to return it to be replaced by the same thing.

    I think of wine and beer like a food product, and we’d never allow returns if it is legal because we wouldn’t have control over the product while it’s in the buyer’s possession. We wouldn’t feel comfortable selling wine to a customer that’s been possibly mishandled by another customer. For events like weddings, there’s a high likelihood of the wine or beer being stored in unfavorable conditions which could impact or damage of the product. Just think of a grocery store allowing fresh food to be returned and then it could end up in your fridge.

  4. emilieduncan Says:

    Good point Donnie and it makes sense to me. I was just reporting what Liquor Control told me directly!