Do certificates include alcohol?

Q. If I buy a discount certificate from, does the amount on the certificate include alcohol purchases?

Adam answers:

Rarely. There is no set policy concerning certificates, but in my experience and that of many others, most certificates are good for the food only. You will usually pay for the alcohol no matter how much your certificate is worth.

Why is this? Mostly it is because alcohol is where the profits are. It is easy to give you a discount on food, because the restaurant isn’t making much money on the food anyway. But if they get you in the door on discounted food, they can make it up (and more) on the profit in alcohol sales.

In addition, some state laws are not entirely clear or actively prohibit giving coupons for alcohol — even though is technically selling you a discounted gift certificate, some states could consider these to be coupons and would then prohibit including alcohol. Even if the state isn’t clear on the issue, many restaurants will want to stay on the safe side (plus make their alcohol profits).