Can You Buy Alcohol On Your 21st Birthday? Answered (2023)

Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Now that you’re turning 21, we know you’re thrilled because you can legally partake in more adult activities. 

So, can you buy alcohol on your 21st birthday? Will it be another thing to look forward to or not? We’ve got answers for you, so read on. 

Is It Legal To Buy Alcohol On Your 21st Birthday? 

young man buying alcohol

Yes. Once you turn 21, you can legally purchase alcohol.

Under Federal Law, you can legally buy alcohol as long as you turn 21 but on licensed premises. 

On your 21st birthday, you can buy and drink in privately owned bars, clubs, and places where they serve alcohol. 

Once the clock strikes 12 on your 21st birthday, you can buy alcohol and drink alcoholic beverages because you just turned the legal drinking age. 

However, that can be a different thing if you buy alcohol for your underage friends because underage drinking is punishable by law. 

Can You Buy Any Alcohol When The Clock Turns 12? 

Yes, you can buy any alcohol once the clock strikes midnight. While the legal drinking age varies from state to state, the Federal Law sets an age requirement for buying alcohol.  

In 1984, President Ronald Regan signed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act that allows twenty-one-year-olds to consume alcoholic beverages [1]. 

If all the states fail to implement their drinking age to 21, the government will cut their highway funding by 10%.

The same rules then applied to buying alcoholic drinks and tobacco products. But can you be a bartender at 18 years old?  

What Alcohol Can You Buy When You Turn 21? 

alcohol on a shelves

You can legally purchase any alcoholic beverage like beer, whiskey, vodka, or rum as soon as you reach the age of 21. 

Once you turn 21, your ID, like a driver’s license, can be your magical permission slip to buy beer for yourself.

You can also buy tobacco products once you turn the age of 21.   

Why Can You Not Drink Until The Clock Turns 12? 

You cannot consume liquor until the clock turns 12 because you are not officially at the age of 21. Technically, you are still 20 and must wait until midnight to legally start drinking (in some states). 

“Alcohol is seen more as a drug, and not something that’s integrated into everyday life.” 

– Marjana Martinic, Deputy President of the International Center for Alcohol Policies.

Unfortunately, there will be denied service in liquor stores if you attempt to buy alcohol at midnight.

They may have their own rules that will only allow you to purchase liquor the next day.

Is It Legal To Drink Alcohol In All 50 States Once You’re 21? 

pouring alcohol on a glasses

Yes, it is legal to drink alcohol in all 50 states once you’re 21. 

While in some places like Canada and Mexico, people drink beer and other liquors once they turn 18, the legal drinking age in the US is 21. 

On your 21st birthday, you can legally consume alcohol, not just non-alcoholic beer.  

When Can You Legally Drink If You’re Under 21? 

In some states, you can consume liquor with your parent’s permission in a private property or residence, even if you are under 21. 

It’s a similar case if you participate in a religious activity. You can legally consume liquor if you’re under 21 in some states. 


Can you drink after midnight on your 21st birthday?

Yes, you can drink after midnight on your 21st birthday. If a liquor store is still open, you can also get your liquor and consume it to celebrate your 21st birthday. 

What alcohol can you buy when you turn 21?

When you turn 21 on your birthday, you can buy any alcohol. You can purchase vodka in a bar or a bottle of whiskey at a grocery store. 

Can you buy alcohol the day before you turn 21?

No, you cannot buy alcohol the day before you turn 21 because, technically, you are 20, and you will get the store in trouble if they sell it to you. 

Final Verdict

Turning 21 is a big deal for many because they can do more adult stuff. One thing is you can buy liquor on your 21st birthday once the clock strikes 12.

Sure, It can be thrilling to do adult stuff on your 21st birthday but make sure to stay out of trouble at the same time. 



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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