Chicago Lowers Age Requirement for Serving Alcohol

Employees 18 and older working at grocery stores and restaurants in Chicago will now be able to serve and sell alcohol.

City Council voted Wednesday to let those between the ages of 18 and 20 sell unopened bottles of alcohol at grocery stores and serve booze at restaurants.

While those under 21 still can’t open bottles or cans of alcohol or pour mixed drinks, they can serve it as long as they complete a program on “responsible beverage” selling and serving.

Critics have argued the move would send a mixed message to young people, but supporters say it opens up more job possibilities for youth and improves the experience for consumers.

“It’s an opportunity to hopefully get more kids employed,” said Ald. Tom Tunney, who co-sponsored the ordinance. “I was doing it at 17, 18 when I was growing up and actually many municipalities and suburbs already have this in place.”

The legal drinking age in Illinois is 21.

“We’re all challenged to provide opportunities for our youth,” Tunney said. “I think you’re not able to be behind the bar, you’re not able to open a bottle of wine or a bottle of beer but you can pour the glass.”

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