Expand your U.K. IQ: A simple store that sells liquor
June 4, 2008
Whether you need a bottle of wine for a dinner party or just want a six-pack to take home, your friendly neighborhood offie can help.
Offie is the slang term for an off-license liquor store in the United Kingdom, one that sells booze to be consumed "off" the premises, as opposed to pubs, clubs and bars, which usually have an on-license alcohol sales permit.
The offie is to the United Kingdom what 7-Eleven or ABC liquor store is to America.
But the British version wins. The offie trumps the American liquor store and convenience store because it combines the best of the two. Not only can you buy a bottle of booze, wine or beer at the offie, but you can usually also find mixers, snacks and convenience items such as newspapers and dental floss (Hey, you never know what you might need in a pinch.)
The name is derived from British licensing laws, which changed in 2003. That’s when a single premise license was established to replace the various versions of alcohol permits. Still, the offie has remained part of the vernacular and many include the moniker in the name of the store.
Regulated by local councils, single licenses can vary from establishment to establishment and regulate not only where the libations can be consumed but other factors such as how late they can be sold.
Off-license stores in Britain often come under fire in the British press when proprietors are caught selling alcohol to minors. With members of Parliament discussing ways to curb underage consumption as well as binge drinking, offies are often referenced in the British "alcohol epidemic" debate.
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