In News & Releases by Clyde Mooney

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NSW Liquor & Gaming continues its support for small bars, with new relaxed drink service conditions following recent increases to patron numbers and trading hours.

Small bars in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross will now be able to serve spirits without mixers and cocktails not on the menu (beyond midnight) – restrictions imposed on licensed venues in Sydney in conjunction with the notorious ‘lockout’ laws.

This furthers changes made to small bar legislation last December that increased maximum patron numbers from 60 to 100, and extended trading in the CBD and Kings Cross from midnight to 2am.

The freeze on other liquor licences in those precincts has also been extended until at least June 2018.

Liquor & Gaming cite small bars as appealing to patrons “wanting to enjoy a drink in a smaller and quieter setting” with high-quality food & beverage options.

The regulator reports a “boom in applications” for the new-format licences; 73 such venues currently operate in NSW – more than a third of these since last December.

The government preference for the smaller venues is due to their lower patron limits, with staff supposedly better able to monitor patron behaviour. L&G says it will be monitoring the changes to ensure no rise in alcohol-related violence – which has been falling consistently for years and state-wide is at its lowest levels since the 80s.

The changes to the laws go some way to correcting the laughable regulation whereby licensed venues such as high-end whisky bars cannot serve a top-shelf spirit neat.

“Those who appreciate fine whisky in a relaxed, intimate small bar setting would sooner go without than be forced to dilute their favourite drop,” observes Minister for Racing Paul Toole.

Other changes to liquor regulation beginning this month:

  • Implementation of the new Three Strikes disciplinary scheme, with Strikes now attached to licensees rather than the premises
  • Changes to improve the effectiveness of the Minor Sanctions Scheme targeting venues that serve minors
  • Changes to the annual liquor licence fee system