Year In Review & Alcohol Predictions For 2023

We had a question and answer session with Dan Newcomb of Liquor License Advisor about the year that’s past and what’s to come for the liquor license industry in 2023.

What was the most common question you got from liquor store owners in 2022? What about restaurant owners?

Over the course of 2022, the most common question that has been a theme amongst liquor store owners is how to maximize the sale price of their store, having sales trending downward since the pandemic. Potential buyers have been requesting 2022 sales because they feel like they reflect earnings before COVID. Since the pandemic, owners have been trying to rejuvenate their business model to stay competitive, and now, with the challenging economy, owners are once again feeling the sense of unsettlement that they had hoped was over. Our team has the knowledge and understanding of the industry, especially during these times, to ensure our clients receive the maximum return on their investment. From start to finish, we help our clients with financial positioning, identifying key team members (attorneys, accountants, etc.), marketing, finding the right buyer, and closing out the sale.

To read the full article – check out The Advisor Magazine – Issue 22.


What Are Consumers Gifting For Alcohol In 2022?

The holiday season is upon us, and it is time to think about what beverages to stock up on and showcase at your store to make gift-giving seamless for your customers. Whether the gift is for a party host, co-worker, friend, or family, we’ve been paying attention to the most popular trends, and here’s what you need to know in order to stay competitive this season.

BevAlcInsights by Drizly forecasted this season’s top alcohol gifts based on 2022 sales and gifting trends in their recent article, “2022 Holiday Gift Guide for Retailers”. The report encourages retailers to stock up on luxury beverages such as champagne, premium red wine, and high-end spirits.

Based on Drizly’s 16% increase in the average unit price of gift orders from 2021 to 2022, Drizly’s head of consumer insights, Liz Paquette, anticipates that consumers will spend even more this year. Forbes reported on the increase of luxury beverage sales in their recent article, “Drinkers Continue To Spend As Sales Of Luxury Booze Grows 23%. But Is It The Category Recession Proof?”. The answer, for the foreseeable future, is yes, as luxury spirits continue to thrive, the most noteworthy being tequila and American whiskey.

This data comes as no surprise since the holiday spirit boosts consumers’ tendency to splurge when purchasing special gifts, but it is also important to recognize diverse budgets in order to maximize consumer sales.

To read the full article – check out The Advisor Magazine – Issue 22.


Small Retailers and Package Stores Need Your Support On Question #3

In our latest Advisor Magazine, we included a campaign ad produced by the 21st Century Alcohol Retail Reform Committee outlining why you should vote yes on question #3. The video explains that locally owned package stores, independent markets and convenience stores initiated the ballot question. Not only will voting yes help save Massachusetts small retailers and package stores, but it will support consumer convenience, public safety, and tourism. 

Visit for more information on how you can support this campaign!

To read the full article – check out The Advisor Magazine – Issue 21.


The Advisor Magazine: Issue #21 –

As the November 8th election approaches this week, the division on the issue of retail distribution grows.
Tell everyone you know to support local and independent operators by voting YES on Question 3.
In Issue #21 of The Advisor we discuss:
  • The ‘Milestone Moment’ for the liquor industry;
    • How to support the unsung heroes of the service industry;
    • What to stock your shelves with for the holidays;
    • Employee Retention Tax Credit Fast Program for owners;
    • and more!
In this issue, we push the hot buttons of today’s liquor industry.
Click Here To Read The Advisor – Issue #21.

The Advisor Magazine: Issue #20 –

About a month to go before the historic vote on question #3 for the liquor license industry – vote YES. Tell your friends and family to support local and independent operators.

In Issue #20 of The Advisor we discuss:
In this issue, we discuss the future of the industry.
Click Here To Read The Advisor – Issue #20.

The Advisor Magazine: Issue #19 –

Holding on to Summer and preserving the 3 tier alcohol system. Not sure what the opposition was expecting but The 21st Century Alcohol Reform Bill is going strong.

In Issue #19 of The Advisor we discuss:
In this issue, we take a look at the direction the industry is heading nearing the final quarter of the year.
Click Here To Read The Advisor – Issue #19.

More Liquor Licenses Likely Coming To Boston For On Premise Use

Home Rule Petition Coming To The City of Boston

A Home Rule Petition was filed on April 1, 2022 regarding the allocation of liquor licenses in the City of Boston, as supporters of the petition argue that there is a disproportionate distribution of liquor licenses across the city and that “the well-documented racial wealth gap in Boston shows that it is crucial for MWBE’s [Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprises] to have equitable access to liquor licenses in order to advance economic equity”.

The petition requests that 200 non-transferable licenses (meaning that if the business closes, the license would go back to the city) over a three-year period be distributed to establishments with a capacity of 50 people and under in the following neighborhoods: Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, and Hyde Park, where there is currently a lack of licenses. For example, the petition points out that out of the 1,432 liquor licenses in Boston, Mattapan holds only ten of them.

It is proposed that all liquor licenses in the City of Boston shall increase by at least 10% over a ten year period. These licenses are for on premise use only, and because they would be non-transferable, these licenses would be given back to the City of Boston if revoked or canceled, to grant an application with the same requirements.


WCVB5 Boston commented on the petition in an April 7 update, describing it as “a tool for addressing the city’s racial wealth gap”. Likewise, an April 17 Boston Globe article entitled, “Waiting for liquor license reform in Boston”, comments on the petition, stating that: “Reforming liquor license law isn’t ultimately about booze. It’s about economic opportunity”. The article argues that because liquor license holders tend to open establishments in wealthier parts of the city, the less wealthy neighborhoods are hurting. The article also calls out Boston’s state-imposed hard cap on restaurant liquor licenses as being “antiquated and stubborn…a vestige of a bygone time”.

On June 16th, 2022, a City Council Committee on Government Operations hearing was held regarding important matters for the City of Boston, including this home rule petition, which consists of two Dockets: Docket #0465 and #0435.

Docket #0465 is the Petition for a Special Law Regarding an Act Authorizing Additional Licenses for the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages to be Drunk on the Premises in Boston, with sponsors being Councilors Brian Worrell, Ruthzee Louijeune, and Ricardo Arroyo. Docket #0435 is the Petition for a Special Law Regarding An Act Authorizing the City of Boston to Grant Four Additional Licenses for the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages to be Drunk on the Specified Premises, with sponsors being Councilors Ruthzee Louijeune and Julia Mejia. If you were unable to attend the hearing, we’ve got you covered with an overview of the discussion to provide you with the most current updates.

To read the full article – check out The Advisor Magazine – Issue 17.



We pride ourselves on having all your bases covered for a great transaction in the shortest amount of time. After over 1500+ transactions we’ve learned a thing or two. We know one person is not able to provide the attention to detail and everything else that’s involved – like our Team of 8 can.

Learn more about why you should hire a team below.



How Long Does It Take to Get a Liquor License?


The process of applying for and obtaining a liquor license for your bar or restaurant varies from 90 days to five or six months, depending on your state. The timing is dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to:


• Additional licensing requirements as determined by state laws (such as zoning permits)

• Liquor license availability in your state

• Failure to supply necessary documentation upon time of application submission

• Objections towards your liquor license from local community members

• Existing felony convictions regarding license applicant(s)


In some states, it is even required by law that any business looking to acquire a liquor license cannot be granted the license for a minimum of thirty days after filing, regardless of how prepared you are and how quickly your liquor license application is processed.


The best way to ensure that you are as prepared as possible for the liquor license application process is to research which class of liquor license you will need, as well as liquor license availability in your area. If your state has a license quota and it has been reached, then you may not be able to receive your license right away, or may have to purchase it from an existing vendor of beer, wine, and/or hard liquors in your area.


Licenses available for purchase include beer and wine licenses,  retail licenses, restaurant licenses, otherwise known as “all-liquor licenses,” and more.  


Some towns and cities may be “dry” or “zoned,” and thus prohibit the selling of alcoholic beverages of any kind. Be sure that the location of your business does not fall under that category.


The Process of Acquiring a Liquor License


Understanding your local government’s role in the distribution of liquor licences, as well as being able to identify the liquor license authority in your state/county who will be reviewing your application and proposal, will contribute to a potentially shorter wait as a license recipient.


Reviewing liquor license availability in your area.


Each state in the U.S. has its own Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), which you can consult with to determine local liquor license availability. Depending upon a state’s population, only a set amount of liquor licenses may be issued per capita. Visiting or getting in contact with the ABC in your state will give you a clear idea of how many licenses—and which types—are available for purchase at the time of your application submission.


If your area has already reached its license quota or is near that threshold, you may find yourself paying a larger sum of money to obtain that harder-to-get license. In states without quotas, a liquor license can cost a few hundred dollars, but in states with more strict liquor laws—such as Utah, which only allows one new liquor license per 5,000 residents—a liquor license could run into the thousands or even top $1 million.


You may also find yourself in need of a liquor license broker in order to purchase a restaurant license, beer and wine license, or tavern license from another business that already owns the class of license you need.


How to search for and acquire a liquor license.


Once you are well-informed about your license class, availability, and local laws regarding alcoholic beverages, it is time to determine the best way to acquire your liquor license.


Generally, applying for a quota or new license is more expensive than obtaining an application in a state with more lax liquor laws, or an application for the transfer of a pre-existing license. Bars, restaurants, and liquor stores in your area could be good businesses to purchase a license from.


Your state’s ABC likely also has resources regarding available licenses for sale, and can assist you in connecting with the appropriate vendor. Liquor License Advisor can help guide your choices as well, keeping in mind the alcoholic beverage and sales market in your village, town, city or county.


The process of applying for an existing license requires much of same documentation as the application for a new liquor license. Documentation you may be asked to provide in your state include:


• Alcohol tax permit or sales tax form

• Business License

• Certificate of incorporation

• Employee Identification Number

• Health permit

• Zoning permit


Most license applications also require a detailed description of the type of business you own. Writing and reviewing this information will also better inform your specific liquor license needs.


Making an offer on an existing liquor license.


When your state has reached its liquor license quota, is it likely that you will need to get in contact with a business in your town that already owns the license you need. In this case, you will either need to match the asking price of that business for a transferral of their license, or need to make an offer on the liquor license.


Your geographical location, as well as the competitiveness of your town or county’s liquor vending, will likely affect both the vendor’s asking price and your offering price. States reaching their quota, or states that have multiple transferrable liquor licenses available, may have more expensive rates. License transfers can cost anywhere from  $2,500 to $250,000. Liquor license advisors can offer guidance on how to best obtain an alcoholic license from another business.


Understanding your state’s ABC  local liquor license authority.


The structure of liquor license authority in the United States differs by individual state. Each state has its own Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), which regulates beverage sales. A state’s ABC has jurisdiction over regional sales, importing, and manufacturing of alcohol; this includes withholding licensing where necessary.


Your state is legally entitled to regulate alcohol sale. For some states, these local laws are even more so restrictive than what is expected on a federal level. Even so, is it expected that in order to successfully close a liquor license you abide by both local liquor license authority and state laws.


In addition to following expectations of your state’s ABC, in some regions liquor licenses are granted by both a city and that city’s state licensing authorities. Some city councils have appointed boards just for the monitoring and reviewing of liquor license applications.


These governing bodies may be part of a city or state’s:

• Licensing Department

• Department of Commerce

• Department of Revenue


You will be expected to abide by local liquor laws, in addition to both the standard national and state regulations. Keep everyone happy, and your customers will be happy too.


How to receive liquor license state approval.


Many states see ownership of a liquor license as a privilege, not a right. Once you have completed your application and submitted all necessary documentation and information regarding your liquor license application, it is then up for review by the state’s ABC and the local committee.


In addition to review by the committee, some communities offer an opportunity for other institutions—such as schools or places of worship—to submit an objection or protest to your application if they feel that it is not appropriate for you to hold a liquor license. Other considerations such as felonies and criminal records of applicants are also held under consideration and can affect the state approval of a licence.


Once your application has been processed and barring any objections, the local committee will likely request a background check for all persons involved with your application. In addition, your business may be required to inform local authorities and governing bodies of this submission, and you will need to prominently display in a storefront window notice that you have applied for a liquor license. Needs for notice include if the building your business is located in has yet to have obtained a liquor license.


Following the announcement of your application, you may be asked to host an inspection at the address of your bar, restaurant, or liquor store, as to ensure that your business functions in compliance with the information you have supplied in your application. Furthermore, you maybe asked to present and prove your case of license issuance to local liquor license authority.  


On average, local liquor license authority will take five to six months to respond to your application request with a confirmation or rejection. If within this time you pass the aforementioned inspection and your application is in order, state liquor license authority will grant a temporary liquor license.


Issuance and closing of your liquor license.


Once your liquor license application has been reviewed and processed, it can take between three months to one year for your business to receive its official liquor license, depending upon your ability to address local legislative needs and supply the necessary documentation and background checks for the class of liquor license for which you’ve applied.


Provisions to a liquor license might include the times at which you may be able to sell alcohol. Weekends, federal holidays, and daylights saving time may be included as days under which the jurisdiction of your liquor license would not fall.


If all goes as expected, you will be supplied with a “Closing Form for New License or License Sale” document by your state, which will verify that all the information you supplied in your application process is true and accurate and acknowledge that you are the individual(s) purchasing said liquor license.


Your license may be revoked if after receiving a business liquor license of any class, business behavior fails to comply with federal, state, and local law. Keep everything above board and the drinks will keep flowing!


Determining What Kind of Liquor License You Need


Depending on what kind of establishment or business you own and operate, you’ll need to apply for a specific class of liquor license. The fees that you pay will vary depending on what kind of liquor license you buy and the demand for that type of license in your state or city. The specifics of this information can be found at your state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). Here are the different types of liquor licenses that exist:

• Arts licenses (e.g. theaters, galleries)

Beer and wine licenses (e.g. for smaller businesses only planning to sell beer and wine)

• Brewpub licenses (e.g. for establishments that want to brew their own liquor)

• Club licenses (e.g. for private social clubs that wish to serve alcohol to members only)

• Delivery licenses (e.g. for business that plan to deliver alcohol to customers)

• Eating place licenses (e.g. establishments or businesses that primarily serve food but also wish to sell small amount of alcohol, or take-out beer)

• Hotel licenses (e.g. for hotels with bars and/or restaurants that wish to serve alcohol)

• Restaurant licenses or all-liquor licenses (e.g. for a restaurant that wishes to be able to sell all types of alcohol including beer, wine, and liquor)

• Retail licenses (e.g. for grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, and all retail establishments that wish to sell alcohol in closed containers)

• Tavern licenses (e.g. businesses primarily serving food but making 50% or more of their profits from selling alcohol)


Application Fees and Taxes that Come with Buying a Liquor License


In many cases in the United States, the cost of buying a liquor license will vary from state to state. The price can range from approximately $300 to nearly $20,000, and in some cases, the cost can  top $1 million. Your fees will also be different depending on what kind of business you have. A restaurant in California that only serves beer and wine could have wildly different fees than a liquor store in Massachusetts.

You might also be required to pay local and state fees, which you can find by visiting the state government website. It’s also important to understand that you may not be able to buy a liquor license directly from your state or city, since there is a limited number of available licenses that can be legally issued based on what are called per capita quotas. Because of this, in many cases, you might have to obtain a license from an existing liquor license holder. This might make it more challenging to track down a current holder, and it’s why liquor license brokerages like ours are critical to ensuring you not only find the correct license, but also get the best deal.


Various Fees


In many cases, you won’t be paying all of your costs upfront, and you’ll be paying varying amounts of money to different people and places. Some fees may go towards private individuals or brokers that help you apply for or obtain a liquor license, while other fees may simply be application fees to the state agency where you’re applying. There may also be annual fees that you’re required to pay in order to maintain your liquor license.


Broker Fees that May Come with Buying a Liquor License


If you’re trying to buy a liquor license, especially if you’re in a state with liquor license quotes, it’s often wise to work with a liquor license broker. What is a liquor license broker, exactly? A broker is like a real estate agent, but for alcohol: they help you to buy or sell a license. At Liquor License Advisor, we assist people in finding current liquor licenses that are for sale, as well as helping establishments to buy and sell liquor licenses. Brokers are particularly helpful in tracking down license holders, making sure their licenses are legitimate (there are frauds out there, and you don’t want a phony liquor license), ensuring that all of the paperwork is in order, and providing invaluable feedback based on what kind of  business you own and where you’re hoping to sell liquor. The amount of money you pay a broker will depend on services rendered, and specific circumstances, but can also save you money in the long-run by preventing you from making mistakes, misunderstandings, or oversights.


County Liquor License Fees


The amount that you’ll owe in liquor license fees will vary from county to county. Depending on the area that you live in, it’s possible that you might need to obtain a liquor license for multiple levels of government, or even all four, including federal, state, county, and local. The more levels of liquor licensing that you need to obtain, the more you’ll have to pay. This is on top of a $50-$100 non-refundable processing fee.

You’ll want to obtain a County Beer License if you own an establishment that is located in a county, excluding counties that are located inside a city or within five miles of a city.


State Liquor License Fees


Depending on the class of liquor license, the state and city your establishment is operated in, and what hours you want to sell alcohol during, amongst other factors, your state liquor license fees will vary. Check your ABC website for this information. If you’re looking to buy a liquor license in Boston, for example, and you wish to buy an all-alcohol license and sell until 2 a.m., you could end up shelling out more than $450,000.


Liquor License Attorney Fees


While you don’t necessarily need to hire a lawyer or attorney to help you obtain a liquor license, it can certainly be helpful. A liquor license attorney can help you prepare all of the relevant paperwork needed to apply for a liquor license, as well as make sure you’re in accordance with all regulations. Liquor license attorney fees may be steep, but they may save you money, time, and confusion in the long-run when applying for a liquor license.

Liquor license attorneys can also be hired if you’re facing a serious claim or have been given a summons for violating the liquor law. Hiring a liquor license attorney can cost you $5,000 or more, depending on the services you need. Although it might seem like a pretty penny, it’s best to pay more to do the whole process correctly, and make sure you’re in compliance with all liquor license regulations now than to risk not being able to obtain a liquor license, or even lose it for good later.

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