Over on the "Spirits" board, there is an interesting thread entitled "Ever take anything but wine or beer to a BYOB?" -- see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/884022
That got me to thinking, and I contacted the State of California's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to ask about whether one *could* bring in other things besides just wine -- I confess I never thought about it.
I would draw your attention to the final paragraph below, as I am re-posting (edited slightly) my comments on the spirits board below.
According to the email I received from the Trade Enforcement Unit of the California ABC:
1) The restaurant first of all MUST hold a valid Alcoholic Beverage license issued by the State of California. These must be one or more of the following: Type 41 or 42 (on-sale beer & wine), and/or Type 47 or 48 (on-sale general [meaning "distilled spirits"]).
2) It is UNLAWFUL to bring in your own bottle(s) into an UNLICENSED establishment, in violation of Section 25604 of the Business & Professions Code of the State of California.
3) If a restaurant has only a Type 41 or 42 (on-sale beer & wine) license, then ONLY bottle(s) of beer and/or wine may be brought into the establishment -- no distilled spirits.
4) Only in restaurants which have been issued a Type 47 or 48 (on-sale general) may patrons bring in bottle(s) of distilled spirits.
5) Licensed restaurants where BYOB is legal according to the above restrictions can establish their own policies regarding corkage, and can set their own limits as to the number of bottles patrons are permitted to bring in, if any.
One other note: Section 23396.5 of the ABC Act permits customers to leave a licensed premises with open containers of wine that have been PURCHASED FROM THE RESTAURANT (that is, you can bring your leftover wine home). However, if you BYOB, then you haven't purchased the wine from the restaurant, and you cannot bring any opened-but-unfinished bottles of wine home. Opened-but-unfinished beer and distillates (presuming the establishment has the proper licenses, and so it was legal to bring in the bottle in the first place) can NEVER be brought home -- only wine . . . but, again, ONLY if the wine was purchased from the restaurant, NOT if you BYOB'd.
Reminder: the above ONLY applies to California. Every state is different. But anyone have any comments?