Violating alcohol-related laws carry stiff penalties—especially for owners of bars and restaurants. Consequently, it’s in the best interest of both you and your business to know and diligently follow all laws related to the consumption and distribution of alcohol. This article will answer the all-important question, “How old do you have to be to serve alcohol?”
Unlike the national minimum drinking age, there is no widespread age requirement for serving alcohol. The minimum age depends on what state you’re in and can even differ within the same state. Here is the minimum legal age one needs to be to serve alcohol in each of the respective 50 U.S. states:
So in the majority of states, the minimum serving age for alcohol is 18. Utah, Nevada, and Alaska require servers to be 21 years of age, while Maine allows 17 year-olds to serve alcoholic beverages. While these age minimums seem cut and dry, they're not quite so simple. Each state has specific quirks when it comes to selling alcohol.
For instance, 18 year-olds in Texas are allowed to serve alcohol only if they’ve completed an alcohol server/seller training course. Due to a local ordinance in the city of Chicago, one must be 21 years of age to serve alcohol. This is despite Illinois' state law requiring servers to only be 18. Other states require someone over 21 to be supervising 18 year-olds who serve alcohol.
To stay on the safe side, always research your own city’s laws before allowing someone under 21 to serve alcohol in your establishment.