Liquor Licenses in Florida 101: The Basics of Getting Your Liquor License
Liquor licenses in Florida can get pretty complicated and pricey depending on what sort of license you need to obtain. Before you dive into the details, here’s a backgrounder to get you started:
Beer and Wine Package Licenses Vs Liquor Licenses
If you just want to sell beer and wine, you require a consumption-on-premise license. These are packaged licenses that, depending on the package, license your establishment to sell specific beer and wine varieties. These licenses are not restricted (i.e., you can obtain an unlimited number of licenses throughout the state).
Liquor licenses are a bit different. If you want to sell liquor, you need a quota license, which, as you can probably tell from the name, is restricted to a certain limit depending on the population of the state. This is where it gets pricey.
Certain requirements can also make you eligible for special licenses afforded to establishments such as restaurants.
If you own a restaurant, you’re an exception to the quota license, and you can apply for a special (SRX) restaurant alcoholic beverage license. This license allows your establishment to sell wine, beer, and liquor for consumption-on-premises as long as it’s related to your restaurant.
Like mentioned earlier, however, there are certain conditions that must be met. For example, your restaurant needs to derive over half (51%) of your revenue from food and drinks (non-alcoholic) to qualify for the license. If you can’t maintain this percentage or if you fail to meet the other requirements for your establishment, you’ll need a regular quota license.
Since liquor is a hard alcoholic beverage, there are quota licenses in place to keep sales in check. For every 7,500 increase in the population of your county, it gets a new quota license. You need to purchase an existing quota license (a free one or from someone who owns one already) or you can enter a drawing where you can win the right to apply for one.
Now, for the pricey caveat:
Depending on the license you applied for, the annual fees can range from just $28 to $1,820. The beverages you want to sell and your location are factors that contribute to the pricing. Furthermore, you need to pay a one-time fee of $10,750, as accorded by the Hughes Act. This one-time fee goes toward alcohol and drug abuse treatment and prevention, including education and other programs.
If you’re going to purchase a quota license from an existing owner, you also need to pay a license transfer fee, which is variable but does not exceed $5,000. The price of the license itself that you’re buying is also variable, depending on the open market where the state does not set prices.