In a bar, a last call (last orders) is an announcement made shortly before the bar closes for the night, informing patrons of their last chance to buy alcoholic beverages. There are various means to make this signal, like ringing a bell, flashing the lights, or announcing orally.
Last call times are often legally mandated and vary widely globally as well as locally. Legislation's purpose include reducing late night noise in the neighborhood, traffic accidents, violence, and alcohol related health problems.
List of last call times around the world
In New South Wales, there is no specified closing time, although in residential areas bars are often required to close at midnight. In non-residential areas some bars are open 24 hours. However, a six-hour daily closure period applies to new licenses (and extended hours authorizations) granted from 30 October 2008; this period is nominated depending on individual and community circumstances.
During a significant part of the 20th century, bars in Australia and New Zealand were closed at 6 p.m. by law. The resulting rush to buy drinks after work was known as the six o'clock swill.
Bar closing hours in Austria are regulated by the federated states. In most states bars must close at 4 a.m. although many places have special permits to close later. In the capital Vienna bars and clubs are allowed to stay open until 6 a.m. Alcohol is allowed to be served until the bar or club closes.
There is no legally mandated last call in Belgium; many bars will stay open all night.
- British Columbia: Last call for serving alcohol is generally 2:00 a.m. provincially. However, municipalities can lower last call down to 12 a.m. or raise it up to 4 a.m. if they so choose. Downtown Vancouver's last call was moved to 4:00 a.m. but was subsequently lowered to 3 a.m. On New Year's Eve last call is extended to 4 a.m. province-wide if food is available to patrons at the premises. Regulated liquor stores (both private and government-operated) can sell off-premises alcohol from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m, with government-operated liquor stores typically closing before 9 p.m.
- Alberta: Last call and sale of alcohol from a store or establishment is 2 a.m. province-wide. In an establishment, a customer may have no more than two drinks in possession after 1 a.m. or last call, whatever comes first. All liquor drinks are to be removed from patron areas by 3:00 am at the latest.
- Manitoba: Last call and the sale of alcohol from a store or establishment is 2 a.m. province-wide. During special events, establishments are permitted to serve alcohol until 3 a.m.
- Ontario: Last call is 2:00 a.m. province-wide, although the province has the authority to grant waivers to allow closing at 4 a.m. during special events. On New Year's Eve, all licensed premises are allowed to serve until 3:00 a.m. In all cases, there is always an added 45 minute "consumption period" allowing patrons additional time to consume their purchases after alcohol sales have ended. Even though licensed establishments are never required to close their doors by a certain time, all alcohol must be removed by the end of the consumption period. Alcohol sales occur only within regulated stores which will always close between 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. depending on location or store (LCBO, Beer Store, Wine Stores or selected grocery stores).
- Quebec: Last call is 3 a.m. province wide for establishments serving alcohol (with some exceptions), while the sale of alcohol from a store is restricted after 11 p.m. Bars across the river from Ottawa (Hull area) close at 2 a.m. to match their Ontario counterparts.
- New Brunswick: Sales can start at 11:00 a.m. but must end at 2:00 a.m. the following day. A tolerance period of 30 minutes, beyond 2:00 a.m., is allowed to give patrons time to consume their beverage. At 2:30 a.m. the premises must be vacated.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Last call is 2 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and 3 a.m. the rest of the week. There is then a half hour "consumption period" before bars must close.
- Nova Scotia: Last call for most establishments is 2 a.m., Cabaret businesses are allowed to serve until 3:30 a.m.
- Saskatchewan: Last call is 2 a.m. On New Year's Eve it's extended until 2:30 a.m. (on Jan. 1).
- Northwest Territories; Yukon: Last call is 2 a.m., extended to 3 a.m. on New Year's Eve.
Many bars, KTVs and nightclubs have no specific last call and will continue to sell alcohol and stay open provided there are paying customers present. However, during sensitive times where national security is increased (i.e. the Olympics, the 60th Anniversary of the PRC), closing times may be in effect in some cities between 1 and 3 a.m. Alcohol is sold through retailers 24 hours a day.
According to the state law, establishments that serve drinks can register as bars, in which case they are allowed to be open in inhabited areas only in indoor spaces and only between 21:00 and 06:00, while no such restrictions exist if bars are located outside inhabited areas. Various exceptions can be made for bars located in transit facilities, if approved by the local authorities, etc. The prescribed working hours for bars are a frequent point of contention between city authorities and local businessmen, particularly during the summer tourist season.
The Dominican Republic has an alcohol curfew starting at 2:00 a.m. exempting non-religious National Holidays. Not applicable to residential dwellings.
Bars are allowed to serve drinks until 1:30 a.m., but a provincial government may at the proprietor's request, grant extensions up to 3.30 a.m. Extensions require the establishment to maintain a higher standard of amenities, service and entertainment by, for example, providing a coat check, entertainment programming such as a DJ or live music, and even general cleanliness and "look and feel" count. These laws were loosened beginning of 2018.
A last call is not announced per se, but as a custom, the lights are flashed a few times (or in case of a dimly lit establishment such as a nightclub, all lights are left on) to notify the customers that serving drinks is over.
Bar closing hours in Germany are regulated by the federated states or cities. Since the 2000s, many federated states and cities have none or relaxed regulations. In many states and cities bars are open as long as there are customers.
Open-air locations such as beer gardens often must close at 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. to reduce noise pollution. Exceptions may exist for weekends, Carnival and New Year's Eve etc. Not all cities strictly enforce the regulation.
In Greece, all bars, cafeterias, clubs, and the like will stay open as long as there are customers inside. Usually, cafeterias stay open until 11 p.m., bars until 2 a.m. and clubs until early in the morning, but there is no last call whatsoever. In 1994, Stelios Papathemelis who was the Minister for Public Order at the time passed a law mandating closing of all bars at 2 a.m. The law was widely unpopular, never materialized fully and was abolished a few years later.
India closing time of bars vary in different states. In Delhi it is 1am, Mumbai 1:30am, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata at midnight. In Chandigarh it is 1 a.m. weekdays and 2 a.m. weekends. In Bangalore it is 11:30 p.m. on weekdays and 1am on Friday and Saturday nights.
Bar closing hours are governed by the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2000. Generally, bars must close at 23:30 Sunday to Thursday and 00:30 on Friday and Saturday. There are special provisions for certain holidays and festivals. However, bars may get an extended license until 02:30 any night.
In Israel, there are no specific closing times and the country has liberal alcohol laws. Bars and clubs in entertainment districts will serve alcohol practically 24 hours a day, while in residential districts local regulations apply; establishments that serve alcohol outside may often have to call their guests inside after midnight or even close completely.
In 2006, Knesset member Ruhama Avraham attempted to pass a bill in parliament that would forbid selling alcohol between 2 and 6 a.m. The bill faced severe resistance from bar and restaurant owners and finally was drawn back.
In Tel Aviv, bars are fined for remaining open past 1 a.m. Though few bars actually close at that time, they are forced to pay this "back-door" tax to the municipality, with no recourse to the national government. A number of bars are contemplating closing at the required time and during internationally promoted events such as Gay Pride Week in protest of the city's underhanded hypocrisy in promoting itself as "the city that never sleeps" while at the same time fining the very establishments that make it such a hot tourist mecca.
Alcohol is no longer sold around the clock in grocery stores, and no sales are allowed between 23:00 and 6:00.
Italy does not have a legally mandated closing time. Alcohol may be served or sold anywhere 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In Rome, an ordinance was passed in January 2009 to make 2 a.m. the last call in Campo de' Fiori and the neighborhoods of Trastevere and Testaccio. The new last call time for these areas was initiated to curtail nighttime commotion in these popular parts of Rome.
Japan does not have a legally mandated closing time. Alcohol may be served or sold anywhere 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Until December 18, 2013, bars could close at any time they wanted (often 7 am). But from December 18, 2013 all bars and nightclubs must close at 4 am. Special conditions apply on Holy/ Maundy Thursday, Holy Saturday (aka Easter Eve,) The Day Before ANZAC day and Christmas Eve where bars must close their doors by midnight (However, private bars and workingmen's clubs can stay open beyond that curfew). There was a period in New Zealand history where Pubs closed at 6 pm and could not open on Sundays.
Last call laws vary. Cities and towns are free to impose more restrictive regulations, but no later than 3 a.m.
- City-specific laws
Out of the 429 counties of Norway, almost 50% have established a closing time or "last call" at 2 a.m.
Only 1 in 7 counties serves drinks until the laws maximum allowance at 3 a.m. This is a major decrease over the last few years
because of the government's belief that reduced drinking hours equal less fighting, noise, disturbance, etc.
In Sweden, explicit last calls do not take place, as it would violate a political principle not to encourage people to drink more. The latest allowed closing time of bars and restaurant is decided by the municipality but regulated by national laws and rules. The standard latest time is 1 a.m. But in many cities a later time can be allowed on some conditions, like high security and staff educated in responsible serving of alcohol. In some of the largest cities, a closing time as late as 5 a.m. occurs.
- State-specific laws
- Alabama: 2 a.m. (Many bars and nightclubs in Birmingham serve alcohol past 2 a.m. with certain licensing and determine last call when business diminishes. There is at least one nightclub in the city that serves alcohol 24/7 365 days a year.)
- Alaska: 5 a.m.; while most cities restrict this further, some do not (primarily smaller Matanuska-Susitna Valley towns), and some villages are dry.
- Arizona: 2 a.m.
- Arkansas: 2 a.m.
- California: 2 a.m.
- Colorado: 2 a.m.
- Connecticut: 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. 3 a.m. New Year's Eve (Day)
- Delaware: Last call is 12:45 a.m. Service must stop at 1 a.m. All drinks must be removed from tables by 2 a.m. Service resumes at 9 a.m.
- District of Columbia: 3 a.m. on Friday night, Saturday night, and the night before a federal or D.C. holiday; 4 a.m. on the night of New Year's Eve and the beginning of daylight saving time; 2 a.m. other nights.
- Florida: Last call set statewide to 2 a.m., some cities have passed exemptions to the law, notably Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Pinellas County (3 a.m.), Broward County (4 a.m.), Key West (4 a.m.), and Miami (24 hours in the Miami Entertainment District). Liquor store closing times vary by county.
- Georgia: Varies by county (most are set at 2 a.m., while others may have different times or no time at all). In Atlanta, most bars are allowed to close at 2:30 a.m., but Underground Atlanta can operate until 4 a.m.
- Hawaii: 4 a.m., however not all bars qualify for a 4 a.m. license and must close at 2 a.m.
- Idaho: 2 a.m.
- Illinois: 1 a.m. through 3 a.m., varies by municipality. In Chicago for regular license bars 2 a.m. Sunday through Friday at 3 a.m. Saturday. Some bars have a late night license allowing to close two hours later so 4 a.m. Sunday through Friday at 5 a.m. Saturday.
- Indiana: 3 a.m. (was 12:30 on Sundays, not currently)
- Iowa: 2 a.m.
- Kansas: 2 a.m. (in the 17 counties which allow bars without limitation)
- Kentucky: 2 a.m. In Louisville, some bars may buy 4 a.m. licenses.
- Louisiana: There is no statewide closing time. Bars may remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Except, Louisiana law provides:
- "The governing authority of any municipality within a parish [Louisiana has parishes instead of counties] with a population between fifty-three thousand and fifty-seven thousand persons according to the most recent federal decennial census may enact ordinances to regulate the closing times of bars located within the municipality, subject to approval by a majority of the qualified electors of the municipality voting at an election held for the purpose."
- Maine: 1 a.m., 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve. In all instances, there is a 15-minute consumption period before premises must be vacated.
- Maryland: 2 a.m.
- Massachusetts: 2 a.m., although cities and towns can (and frequently do) set last call earlier. Alcohol sales stop 30 minutes prior to closing time.
- Michigan: 2 a.m., 4 a.m. New Year's Eve.
- Minnesota: 2 a.m. Many cities have a 1 a.m. restriction.
- Mississippi: 12:00 Midnight or 1:00 a.m.; depending on city. Larger metro areas usually adhere to "After Midnight" policy. Most Casinos do not have a last call.
- Missouri: 1:30 a.m. in most of the state; 3:00 a.m. in specially licensed establishments in the two largest metropolises of St. Louis and Kansas City, and their surrounding areas.
- Montana: Last call for bars and taverns is around 1:30 a.m. However, one can purchase beer from many local gas stations and grocery stores until 2 a.m. State law reads, "Agency liquor stores may remain open during the period between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m." In spite of this, most liquor stores close on or before 10 p.m. with the exception of casino/liquor stores.
- Nebraska: 1 a.m.; except for municipalities (Omaha & Lincoln) are allowed to stay open until 2 am.
- Nevada: There is no set statewide closing time. Bars may remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- New Hampshire: Statewide is 1:00 a.m., bars must close at 1:30 a.m. Must call last call at 12:45 a.m.
- New Jersey: No statewide closing time. Most municipalities set their last call at 2 a.m. Atlantic City serves 24 hours. Ocean City is a dry town.
- New Mexico: 2 a.m.
- New York: Under state law, establishments must stop serving alcohol by 4 a.m., however the actual closing time is left up to each of New York's 62 counties. The 4 a.m. time applies in New York City; clubs and bars may remain open without serving alcohol; they may start serving at 7 a.m. except on Sunday when sales begin at noon. Last call is also 4 a.m. in Saratoga Springs, Buffalo, and Albany. Binghamton has a last call of 3 a.m., Syracuse and Rochester have a time of 2 a.m., and Elmira, Geneva, and Ithaca have a time of 1 a.m. Rural counties may be even earlier.
- North Carolina: Last call is 2 a.m. statewide. On weekdays and Saturday alcohol can be sold beginning at 7 a.m., on Sunday alcohol sales begin at noon. Liquor stores (ABC) Closed on Sundays.
- North Dakota: 1 a.m., however recent legislation allows each county and city by local option to set a 2 a.m. closing time. North Dakota's closing time is strict. All drinks must be off the tables and the bar closed by the mandatory closing time.
- Ohio: Last call is 2 a.m. statewide, although establishments may acquire licenses that allow them to serve until 2:30 a.m. Store-bought beer & wine sales stop at 1 a.m. Liquor over 42 proof may only be purchased in state-approved stores--sales stop at 10 p.m.
- Oklahoma: 2 a.m.
- Oregon: 2:30 a.m.
- Pennsylvania: 2 a.m. in taverns, 3 a.m. in membership-only clubs statewide. Sales may begin as early as 7 a.m. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board-operated liquor stores (known as "Wine & Spirits Shoppes", or commonly called "state stores") operate various hours, but never open before 9 a.m. and never close later than 10 p.m. About ten percent of state stores, most of which are near the borders of the Commonwealth, are open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
- Rhode Island: 1 a.m. seven days a week. 2 a.m. in Providence only on Friday and Saturday nights and nights before a state-recognized holiday.
- South Carolina: Set by county or municipality. No alcohol sales (on or off premises) is permitted on Sundays, except in Aiken City, Columbia, Charleston, Greenville / North Augusta, South Carolina, Spartanburg, and the Myrtle Beach area.
- South Dakota: 2 a.m.
- Tennessee: 3 a.m.
- Texas: Serving stops at 2 a.m. all drinks must be up by 2:15, Liquor stores can be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Beer and wine may be sold in other stores until 1 a.m. on Saturdays and until midnight on any other day of the week.
- Utah: Last call is 1 a.m., and establishments must be closed by 2 a.m.
- Vermont: 2 a.m., 3 a.m on New Year's Eve
- Virginia: All on-premises drinks must be up by 2 a.m. If Daylight Saving Time is ending, the first instance of 2 a.m. counts. Some bars possess grandfathered licenses obtained before the current last call was instituted, allowing them to sell at any time. Off-premises premises must stop by midnight. Liquors can only be acquired for off-premises consumption at state-run liquor stores which have stricter hours.
- Washington: 2 a.m.
- West Virginia: 3 a.m.
- Wisconsin: 2:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, 2:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. No closing time on New Year's Eve.
- Wyoming: 2 a.m.
- City-specific laws
- Albany, New York: 4 a.m.
- Atlanta: 2:30 a.m.; 4:00 a.m. in Underground Atlanta. Midnight on Sunday night/Monday morning.
- Atlantic City: Bars may stay open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Austin: 2 a.m.
- Baltimore: 2 a.m.
- Bloomington and Normal, Illinois: 1 a.m. on weeknights, 2 a.m. on weekends.
- Bloomington, Indiana: 3 a.m.
- Boston: 2 a.m.
- Buffalo: 4 a.m., 24 hours on specific holidays.
- Champaign, Illinois: 2 a.m.
- Charlotte: 2 a.m.
- Chicago: Some bars may choose to close at 2 a.m. or earlier. They may alternately get an extension which allows them to close at 4 a.m. or earlier. On Saturdays, closing times are shifted an hour back to 3 and 5 a.m.
- Cincinnati: 2:15 a.m. for last call; 2:30 a.m. for closing time.
- Cleveland: 2:30 a.m.
- Columbus: 2:30 a.m.
- Denver: 2 a.m.
- Florence, South Carolina: 2 a.m. for hard liquor, 3 a.m. for beer. This includes Sundays where any bar that is defined as a private club may operate 7 days a week, otherwise last call is midnight Saturday night, until the establishment reopens for business on Monday.
- Fort Wayne, Indiana: 3 a.m.
- Houston: alcohol service stops at 2:00 a.m.
- Indianapolis: 3 a.m.
- Kansas City, Missouri: 1:30 a.m. for most bars, 3:00 a.m. for specially licensed bars in certain geographic areas. 6:00 a.m. for one bar only, the Mutual Musicians Foundation.
- Key West, Florida: 4 a.m.
- Las Vegas: Bars may stay open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Los Angeles: 2 a.m.
- Lexington, Kentucky: 2:30 a.m.
- Louisville, Kentucky: 2 a.m. or 4 a.m., depending on license.
- Miami: 5 a.m.; Bars may stay open 24 hours, 7 days a week in the Downtown Entertainment District.
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul: 2 a.m.
- Mobile: No last call for bars operating under a private club license
- New Orleans: Bars may stay open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
- New York City: 4 a.m.; nightclubs are permitted to stay open after 4 a.m. but cannot serve alcohol.
- Pensacola, Florida: 3 a.m. (within city limits, 2 a.m. for county)
- Peoria, Illinois: Bars in the downtown district may stay open until 4 a.m. Bars in other areas may stay open until 1 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Bars may stay open 2 hours later than normal closing hours on New Year's Eve, providing additional patrons are not allowed after normal closing hours.
- Phoenix / Scottsdale: 2 a.m.
- Philadelphia: 2 a.m.
- Pittsburgh: 2 a.m.
- Providence: 2 a.m. on weekends, and nights before a state-recognized holiday. 1 a.m. on weeknights.
- Rochester, New York: 2 a.m.
- Salt Lake City: 1 a.m.
- San Diego: 2 a.m.
- San Francisco: 2 a.m.
- Saratoga Springs, New York: 4 a.m.
- Savannah, Georgia: 3 a.m.
- Seattle: 2 a.m.
- Shreveport, Louisiana: 6 a.m. for Downtown, 2 a.m. everywhere else.
- St. Louis: 1:30 a.m. for most bars, with some 3:00 a.m. bars
- St. Petersburg, Florida: 3 a.m.
- Tampa: 3 a.m.
- Washington, D.C.: 3 a.m. on Friday night, Saturday night, and the night before a federal or DC holiday; 4 a.m. on the night of New Year's Eve; 2 a.m. other nights.
The average "Last Call" time is between 11 PM and 1 AM in municipalities like Birmingham and London. This information was taken from two hundred bars from 2014 to 2016. Bars and clubs can apply for individual licenses allowing them to close at any time between 11 pm and 5 am. Some establishments in big cities have 24-hour licenses.