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Denver Liquor License

Denver businesses must have a liquor license before they are allowed to sell or distribute alcoholic beverages.

Denver Restaurants, Bars and Liquor Stores all must obtain a Denver Liquor License before they can sell alcohol beverages. All retail liquor licenses applications are submitted to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses.  Once your liquor license application is submitted, a hearing will be held and then the application ruled upon by a Hearing Officer. The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses processes all types of retail liquor license transactions and applications.

If you intend to only manufacture alcohol beverages, e.g., a distillery, brewery or winery, you will apply directly to the State of Colorado – NOT the city of Denver. Colorado liquor laws and rules govern the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Any person intending to manufacture, sell, or deal in spirituous liquor in the State of Colorado must apply for a Colorado liquor license. 

Do You Need a Lawyer to Obtain a Denver Liquor License?

Not necessarily, but it is recommended as the liquor license hearing is a quasi-judicial proceeding, and if your liquor license application is denied, you have a right to appeal.  The liquor license appeal will be based on the record created before the Denver Liquor License Hearing Officer, so if you do not create a proper record, a successful appeal of the license denial will be significantly more difficult to achieve.

Before applying for a liquor license, applicants must review and be familiar with the Colorado Liquor Code and Colorado Liquor Rules and other laws that pertain to liquor licenses and procedures.  an applicant/licensee must also review state statutes, rules and regulations, and local ordinances applicable to their circumstance. While extremely helpful through the process, the Denver Department of Excise and Licensing cannot answer questions regarding how the rules, statutes, ordinances, and regulations apply to an applicant/licensee’s situation; such questions should be directed to a lawyer.

Also important to consider: LLCs and Corporations may not appear “pro se” in Colorado Courts, with very limited exceptions.  While many licensing authorities permit LLCs and Corporations to represent themselves at liquor license hearings, a very strong argument can be made that this is improper.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Denver Liquor License?

The liquor licensing process generally takes three to four months (sometimes longer) to complete.  Getting started as soon as possible before your business plans to open is best.  Denver requires a zoning use permit before applying for a liquor license and this adds time to the process.

Process for Obtaining a Denver Liquor License

  1. Have properly formed business entity (Colorado LLC or Corporation, for example).
  2. Have an executed lease (for a period of over one year), or own the property to be licensed.
  3. Choose the proper type of Colorado Liquor License for your establishment.
    • Common Denver Colorado Liquor License Types Are:
      1. Hotel Restaurant License
      2. Retail Liquor Store License
      3. Tavern License
      4. Brew Pub License
      5. Beer and Wine License
      6. Fermented Malt Beverage and Wine Retailer License
      7. Distillery Pub License
  4. Determine whether there is an existing zoning use permit for your address, if not, apply for a Denver Zoning Use Permit.
  5. Choose the correct permit application from the State.
  6. Get fingerprinted.
  7. Submit the liquor license application to the City of Denver.
    • The City and County of Denver requires liquor license applications to be submitted online.
  8. Pay any liquor license fees associated with the liquor license application.
  9. Post a public notice.
    • A Public Notice must be posted conspicuously at the physical location of the premises no less than 10 days before the public hearing.
  10. Petition the neighborhood.
    • The Department of Excise and Licenses for the City and County of Denver considers the “need and desires” of the adult inhabitants of the neighborhood as evidenced by documentation from residents and/or businesses in the neighborhood of the address to be licensed.
  11. Attend a liquor license public hearing
  12. Applications that are approved by the Department of Excise and Licenses for the City and County of Denver are forwarded to the Colorado State Liquor Enforcement Division for final approval and issuance.

Denver City and County Liquor License Renewal

Liquor licenses are valid for a period of one year.  Once the liquor license is obtained, it must be renewed annually.  Denver Liquor License Renewal applications must be submitted 45 days prior to license expiration date, while Colorado Special Event liquor permit applications must be submitted 60 days prior to the event. 

Liquor License Violations

All Colorado Liquor Licensees are subject to the laws and rules of Colorado that govern the manufacture, distribution, sale and service of alcohol in the State of Colorado.  The most common liquor license violations we see are for failure to pass a compliance check, for the sale of alcohol to a minor.  Even with the best training, mistakes happen.  The key is to understand who is being cited with the Colorado liquor law violation, why the liquor violations occurred and to know your options.

Denver Liquor License Lawyers

Our Denver liquor license lawyers are ready to assist in obtaining an Denver Liquor License and defend your restaurant, brewery, distillery pub, bar, or other liquor licensed business against any Colorado liquor license violations.  Whether you need to transfer, modify, or obtain a new liquor license, our beverage attorneys will start by addressing your needs and continue to provide guidance along the way.  Your goals and bottom line are our priority. Contact the Colorado liquor license lawyers at LaszloLaw today to discuss your Denver liquor license needs.

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