Beverage and Liquor Sampling: What You Need to Know

A popular way of promoting a product is by giving away free samples. Allowing customers to try a product can lead to instant sales and valuable feedback. Experiential marketing is also a fast way to build brand recognition and awareness. Samples can be given at a variety of events and locations, including in stores and restaurants, at recreational events like concerts and sports games, on the streets and at specialist promotional events.

With U.S. sales of alcoholic beverages at a high, offering samples of beer, wine and liquor can be a great way to boost sales further. There are certain additional rules, regulations and ethical considerations surrounding alcohol sampling that marketers should always keep in mind.

Some relevant rules are statewide, while states may have their own regulations concerning alcohol sampling; always check state guidance in advance. Furthermore, a beverage launch event should always comply with codes set out by the Beer Institute, Wine Institute and Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Here are some things to keep in mind when arranging alcohol sampling:  

Age Verification

In the USA, the legal minimum age for drinking alcohol is 21. Alcohol samples should never be given to anyone underage, and age verification is a must. If people cannot provide photographic ID to prove they are legally old enough to drink, they should not be given samples that contain alcohol.  

Depending on the type of event, promoters may check age upon admission or opt to verify a person’s age at the point of handing out samples.

Event Location

Alcohol should only be advertised in places where most of the audience is legally old enough to drink. Similarly, beverage sampling should always be conducted in a place where the majority of people are above the legal drinking age. It is illegal to market alcohol to minors.

Check proposed locations to ensure they are not too close to schools, churches, community centers and similar, and that events aren’t in a location that is likely to disturb the general public.   

Promoters should also consider whether a significant number of attendees will be likely to drive after an event, and choose an appropriate location.

Clear Product Descriptions

Consumers should be given clear information as to a sample’s contents, including the type of alcohol and its strength. This can be through signage, posters and other media throughout the event space.  

Size of Samples

Along with being relevant from a costing point of view, samples at a liquor event should be fairly small to limit the chances of intoxication. Samples should be measured to ensure consistency.

Sensible Drinking

Experienced staff should be used to distribute samples, and beverage sampling should be refused for anyone that appears to be intoxicated. People who are giving out samples should be aware to follow sensible drinking guidance and withhold alcoholic samples when appropriate.


Traditionally, small plastic cups were the norm at a beverage event. With growing awareness of the environmental impacts of single-use plastic, many consumers are actively voicing their concerns … and marketers should listen. Consider eco-friendlier alternatives, should as recyclable materials and appropriate disposal. Plus, trying a new drink out of a small plastic cup doesn’t provide the most enticing experience for potential customers.   

Contact Auctus Agency, a trusted leader in experiential marketing, for fresh ideas for a successful beverage launch that fully complies with all relevant codes.

Our Brand Experiences

We're everywhere

Our national network of experiential brand activation professionals covers all your marketing engagement needs.

Ready to Engage? Call

(651) 204-0244