A long time ago I learnt that the only legal shop to buy alcohol in the UK was at a special shop, called an “off-license”. Is this still the only way? I beleive it is similar to “Liquor Strores” in the USA.
I live in Spain, where most alcoholic beverages are sold at plain supermarkets.
Not the same as the US at all. There are 50 states plus some territories. In nine of them, you must buy alcohol from the state. Others do things like requiring hard liquor to be bought in liquor stores, but beer and wine can be bought at the grocery store. In my own state and several others, anyone can sell any type of alcohol if they have the license.
I’ll let a real Brit chime in, but off-licenses can be connected to regular stores. They are named because you can take alcohol from them and consume it off of the premises.
I don’t know the origin of the name sorry, but no, all UK supermarkets, many mini-marts, newsagents, petrol stations etc are now licensed to sell alcohol. Even department stores have some kind of exemption to sell alcohol as in the run up to Christmas, gift sets including bottles of liqueurs (e.g. Tia Maria, Bailleys) appear on the shelves!
Licensing laws vary between countries within the UK (e.g. in Scotland you can’t buy booze before 12.30pm on Sundays) but in general, it’s easy to get hold of.
So how do you pronounce it? I dont think I’ve ever heard it pronounced. By its etymology, it would seem you would emphasize “off” a bit more than “license”, whereas if the phrase came from something that wasn’t fully licensed, then you’d pronounce them more or less even ly.
There are two distinct kinds of licence for selling alcohol - for consumption on the premises and off the premises (some establishments would have both, so the pub could sell you a bottle or jug of beer to take home). These licences themselves became known as ‘an off licence’ and ‘an on licence’ (that is, in the sense “the landlord of the Red Lion has an Off Licence” - referring to a document) - and the name was subsequently applied to the establishments that carried the licences.
No. You can buy alcohol at off-licenses (stores devoted to selling alcohol), and at every supermarket, newsagent, or grocery store.
It’s a colloquial term referring to the license held by the establishment (licensed to sell alcohol for consuption off the premises). The shops don’t refer to themselves as an “off license” (at least, not officially).
Some pubs used to have a “jug and bottle” door. Inside was a small counter where you could take the aforementioned containers to be filled up with beer. These you could then take away to drink at home. That was also a form of off-licence.
Historically, the ‘off-licence’ was the only place where you could buy beer or spirits outside of a pub (except as part of a meal in a ‘licenced’ restaurant). This sole source procurement ceased some years ago when the big supermarket chains lobbied to be allowed to sell alcohol too. Now most reasonably big (and many small) stores sell it, although only within the permitted hours, which may be only a portion of the stores hours.