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VERIFY: Is it legal to buy bottles of alcohol at a bar right before last call?

A sports bar’s menu sparked questions about whether you can drink at a bar after last call if you bought the drink before 10 p.m.
Credit: Ryan Bristol
The menu at The Sportsbook Bar and Grill shows bottles for sale between 9:15 and 9:50 p.m.

DENVER — Governor Jared Polis’ (D-Colorado) executive order mandating a 10 p.m. last call is reshaping the way some bars are doing business. A viewer sent us a photo of the menu at The Sportsbook Bar and Grill in Greenwood Village that shows full bottles of alcohol for sale between 9:15 and 9:50 p.m. Guests are welcome to stay at the bar and drink whatever they purchased until the bar closes at midnight. 

The 9NEWS VERIFY team looked back into the executive order and compliance memos to see if this practice is allowed under the order. 

THE QUESTION:

Is it legal to purchase bottles of alcohol before the 10 p.m. last call and continue to drink until close?

THE ANSWER:

Yes, it is legal. According to the Colorado Governor’s Office and the Colorado Department of Revenue’s bulletin 20-13 regarding executive order compliance, customers can stay at bars and finish their drinks past 10 p.m. The bar just has to be able to prove that the customer ordered the drink before 10 p.m. 

WHAT WE FOUND: 

The executive order requiring all bars to hold last call at 10 p.m. went into effect July 23 and lasts for 30 days. Shelby Wieman, the Governor’s Deputy Press Secretary, said that bars only need to stop selling alcohol by 10 p.m., they can stay open past that time. 

RELATED: Polis temporarily moves last call for alcohol to 10 p.m. due to COVID-19 surge among young people

The bulletin gives examples of people ordering food and alcoholic drinks at 9:50, but staying past 10 to finish the meal, even if it means ordering desert at 10:30. It says that the bar can prove it didn’t sell alcohol past 10 in two ways - a time stamp on the order, or closing out the tab at 10 and opening a new one for food ordered after last call. As long as this happens, the bar is in the clear. 

The Sportsbook Bar & Grill owner Judson Dymond said the liquor bottle menu is a direct response to the last call executive order and a way to promote more business.

“Roughly 15-20% of our normal business can occur after 10 p.m.,” Dymond said.

This accounts for people that work late or those who watch sports games at the bar. Dymond specifically pointed out the occasional late starts for basketball and hockey.

And while Dymond said an entire bottle of alcohol may seem like a lot for a customer, they also have the option to take the sealed bottle home with them.

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