Can You Have a Liquor Catering Service?

You can cater alcohol to off-premise events with the proper liquor license and permits.
You can cater alcohol to off-premise events with the proper liquor license and permits. (Image: Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

If you're in the bar, restaurant or catering business and are wondering if you can have a liquor catering service, the answer is yes. However, you may have to abide by certain state rules and regulations to be approved for the appropriate permits and licenses. Those outside of the food and beverage industry may find it a bit more difficult to accomplish, but depending on your location and organization, you may be able to do it.

Liquor License Holders

If you own a bar, restaurant or catering company and already possess the appropriate state licenses to sell and serve liquor on the premises, you can usually obtain a liquor license for catering. Liquor stores are always required to carry a liquor licenses, and are sometimes eligible to qualify for off-premise liquor catering permits as well. Check with your local state liquor control commission or city council to determine your eligibility and what type of permit you need to cater liquor off-site.

Off-Premises Permits

Depending on the state you are operating in, if you already have a liquor license for your establishment, you must complete an liquor caterer's application, or a "Liquor Caterer’s Notification Form" prior to the event you will be serving. In most instances you will be required to pay any applicable application and processing fees to receive a temporary permit to sell and serve alcohol at the site of the event. Typically permits are purchased per event and are valid for no longer than 24 to 48 hours, and must be submitted to the qualifying agency at least 7 to 14 days preceding the event and event locations may be subject to state approval.

Considerations For Individuals

If you are not affiliated with a bar, restaurant or company that is licensed to serve alcohol, you may experience more obstacles and restrictions trying to operate a liquor catering service. It varies by state, but generally only certain types of organizations -- such as lodges, churches, and bona-fide clubs and organization with a minimum of six months in existence -- can qualify to sell alcohol at public or private events. Since no formal state liquor license can exist without a facility, temporary Class B licenses -- or "picnic licenses" -- can be obtained per event, but are limited to beer and wine sales only.

Insurance and Bonding

In addition to any permits and licenses you need to cater alcohol at off-premise events, you must also carry a certain amount of insurance. Basic liability insurance is required to protect your business or organization, as well as your clients and the general public against any physical or property damages that may occur as a result of alcohol sales. Bonding insurance will protect you and your client against any theft or injury to the client, yourself or your staff and acts as a verification of trust worthiness.

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