Liquor Licenses – An Overview
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Humans have been creating different forms of alcohol for nearly as long as they have been alive. The first recordings of fermented beverages are at least over 9,000 years old, including barley beer, grape wine, and fermented beverages of rice, fruits, and other crops. With all this brewing and growing of crops for alcoholic consumption, it’s no wonder that laws pertaining to alcohol are also very old!

In the United States, state laws control liquor laws, as opposed to federal laws. However, this hasn’t always been the case. If you recall from your high school history class, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (also known as the Prohibition Act or Volstead Act) prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transfer of alcohol. These were known as the "Prohibition Years." But this only lasted about 14 years from 1919 to 1933 until the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment as passed by Congress. Since then, we’ve went back to granting states the right to control their laws on alcohol.

You might then ask, but why does every state set the minimum drinking age at 21 years old? Great question! In short, this answer is based on federal government mandates. Read Why is the Legal Drinking Age 21 in the United States? for details on this interesting topic, and to learn more about how federal government mandates can do this.

In this article, we’ll explore the basics behind liquor, beer, wine, and spirit licenses (also called permits). We’ll take a look at an overview of liquor law, the step-by-step license application process, how liquor licenses are transferred, an example of one state’s licensing fees, and a hypothetical to put it all together.

Next, we’ll take a brief look at liquor license law.