Dechen Dolkar 

Restaurants can now serve wine and liquor, without requiring a separate bar license, according to a notification from the economic affairs ministry.  

This puts an end to the explicit promotion of bars and the requirement of bar licenses that have led to the exploitation of licenses over the years.    

The ministry will process all new applications as restaurant licenses hereafter, in accordance with the rules and regulations for the operation of the restaurant and retail wine and liquor business 2022.      

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said that any restaurant can now serve alcohol without requiring separate bar licenses if they wish.    

Lyonpo said that, however, the restaurant will not be attached to or combined with a grocery, general shop or other trading activity.  

“It must be equipped with adequate sitting arrangements ensuring hygiene, safety and comfort of customers. All hotels can avail themselves of the restaurant license to serve wine and liquor,” Lyonpo said.

In keeping with the norm, the restaurants and retail wine and liquor outlets are not allowed to serve or sell alcohol on Tuesdays, which is marked as the dry day. The retail outlets shall remain closed on Tuesdays, while restaurants are prohibited from selling alcohol on the day. 

Lyonpo said that all hotels and places organising meetings and official functions on Tuesday are informed to observe this restriction to avoid consequences. 

The restaurants will not serve alcohol before 1pm as is practised currently.

The restaurants and retail wine and liquor outlets will not serve or sell wine and liquor to individuals under 18 years.

Retail licenses for wine and liquor will be obtained separately. While it is allowed to combine with retail businesses like grocery, mart or convenience stores, as is practised now, a standalone outlet is also permitted.

However, any restaurant or retail within the campus of schools, colleges, universities, TVET institutes, public offices and institutes, hospitals, dzongs, and dratshangs will not be allowed to sell wine and liquor products at all times.

Lyonpo said that the license renewable fees will be charged the same as it was charged for bar licenses. 

Licenses renewal fees in thromde A will be Nu 15,000, within the demarcated urban core of other dzongkhags and Yenlag throm and retail wine and liquor shops will be Nu 7,000, and all other areas will be Nu 3,000.