Minimum Age to Serve Alcoholic Beverages in On-Premises Establishments

Thirty-seven states and D.C. permit adults age 18 or older to serve alcoholic beverages in on-premises establishments. Only three states require a server to be age 21. One state permits persons age 17 to serve alcoholic beverages.


  1. Waiter!
  2. Minimum Ages
  3. Resources


Generally the term server refers to a waitperson (waiter or waitress). On the other hand “bartender” refers to a person who dispenses alcoholic beverages.

On-premises establishments are those that sell alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption there. They are typically restaurants and bars.

See Also

Trivia about:

Fly In My Soup

 Waiter, there’s a dead fly in my soup!

Yes sir, it’s the hot water that kills them.   

Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!

Don’t worry sir, the spider on the bread roll will get ’em.

What’s this fly doing in my soup?


Very funny. I can’t eat this. Take it back.

You see? The fly’s prayers were answered.

Waiter, waiter, there’s a bee in my soup.

Yes sir, it’s the fly’s day off.

Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!

Its OK, sir, there’s no extra charge!

Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!

No sir, that’s a cockroach, the fly is on your steak.

Waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup?

Um, looks to me to be backstroke, sir…

Waiter, there is a fly in my soup!

Sorry sir, guess I missed it when I removed the other three.


In some states, persons under 21 may serve alcohol only in certain types of on-premises establishments. For example, in restaurants. In some cases, servers must be at least a specified age. However, younger employees may stock coolers with alcohol. Or they may clear alcoholic beverages from tables.

Some states place conditions on on-premises servers under 21 years of age. They might require a supervisor to be present when the underage person is serving alcohol. Or the underage server might have to take additional training. Some states also require both conditions.

Age to Serve Alcoholic Drinks

Here’s the minimum age to serve alcoholic beverages in on-premises establishments by state.

17 18 19 20 21
Maine California Alabama Alaska
Colorado Arizona Nevada
Connecticut Arkansas Utah
Delaware Idaho
District of Columbia (Washington DC) Indiana
Florida Kentucky
Georgia Nebraska
Hawaii New Mexico
Illinois North Dakota
Iowa Ohio
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

Chicago and a few other cities have established higher minimum ages for servers in on-premises establishments.

Note: Never rely on this website for legal information about the minimum age to serve alcoholic beverages. Nor on any other website. Laws can change. Courts also reinterpret them. This website does not provide any legal advice or opinion. So always consult a lawyer for legal advice.