I think משקאות חריפים refers to liqueurs, like brandy. And I suspect that יין חריף refers to mulled wine (warmed red wine with nutmeg and cinnamon). Whiskey is ויסקי and scotch is סקוטש. I kind of doubt משקאות חריפים refers to alcoholic beverages in general, but would love feedback from an Israeli barfly. Or, bartender.
I've been looking at bar menus in Tel Aviv and drinks seem to be called משקאות or אלכוהול . Haven't seen משקאות חריפים yet. I've seen משקאות אלכוהוליים. The menus seem to be mostly in English, but using Hebrew letters. See, for example: https://www.facebook.com/pg/PotionBarTLV/menu/. BTW, this research can be fun.
Just ran into משקאות קלים... they're "soft drinks", like ginger ale, tonic water and sodas.
The term משקאות חריפים was used a lot when I was a kid, 30-40 years ago. I think it's slowly falling out of use, but still used. One phrase that jumps to my mind is מכירת משקאות חריפים למי שטרם מלאו לו 18 אסורה!, posted somehwere on every bar, restaurant and grocery store. I'm not sure whether most of them these days say משקאות חריפים or משקאות אלכוהוליים.
As for the debate if it includes wine and beer or only more alcoholic stuff - Even Shoshan dictionary says also wine and beer, and I think I've mostly known it to include them. Surely in said signs it includes them. But I think I have heard it also to mean only stronger ones.
To support what radagastthebrown said Prolog's Hebrew-English Dictionary app includes such an entry listed under "alcoholic" and defined (or glossed) as "alcoholic beverage" משקה חריף. I have to say that I appreciate Dov's 'boots on the ground' research!
These threads can easily distract from learning, but they can also be quite informative and helpful. :-)
he.wikipedia.org ha as an article "משקה חריף". See the pictures! Here: https://he.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%A7%D7%94_%D7%97%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%A3
Liquor & liqueur are different things. Liquor is any alcoholic beverage, (usually isn't used for wine or beer), & liqueur is sweet, cordials/ for desserts, aperitifs, etc. It's liquor plus sweetner, herbs, etc. Like Sabra liqueur.
Liquor (in AM English) is any alcoholic drink that's distilled (but not sweetened) vodka, gin, whisky, bourbon, tequila, etc. What in the UK they call spirits. https://vinepair.com/spirits-101/what-are-spirits/
Now I want a lambic ale, which is yummy, but neither liquor or liqueur. L'CHAIM!
Is "משקאות חריפים" something you would see advertised in the window of an off license/liquor store/pub/bar, rather than something you would use in general conversation? I don't know anyone who would use the term "alcoholic beverages" in English spoken language unless they were joking; "You like your alcoholic beverages, don't you?"
I disagree about the English usage, but it may be a regional difference. (Being American, I had to look up what "off license" meant.) I can easily imagine a doctor asking "how often do you drink alcoholic beverages?" Or when planning a party, somebody might say "We have plenty of beer. Do we need other alcoholic beverages?" A sign at a park might say "Alcoholic beverages not allowed". Admittedly, all of these examples could just use "alcohol" instead of "alcoholic beverages", but a fair number of people would say "alcoholic beverages".