What Is the Difference Between a Beer & Wine License & a Liquor License?

by Nadia Nygaard; Updated September 26, 2017
A beer and wine or liquor license is required to serve alcohol in commercial establishments.

With an array of beverage-serving licenses available from your state, it can be confusing to know which is best for your business. Determine the scope of drinks you want to be able to serve before obtaining your license.

Beer and Wine License

A beer and wine license allows a commercial establishment (restaurant, bar or other similar business) to serve only beer and wine on its premises. These licenses may limit how much of the total sales come from beer and wine, depending on the establishment type and whether you wish to allow minors on site.

Liquor License

A liquor license may also be called a "general" license or a "full" license. These grant the business the right to sell not only beer and wine but also distilled spirits. Examples of distilled spirits include vodka, brandy, whiskey and tequila.

Specialty Licenses

Some states also offer specialty licenses for businesses that brew their own beer or make their own wine or spirits. If you wish to manufacture as well as serve beer, wine and/or spirits, be sure to check with your state's department of revenue or alcoholic beverage control department to determine if you need an additional license.

About the Author

Nadia Nygaard has been writing and editing since 2005. She is published in "Farm and Ranch Living" and has edited projects as diverse as grant proposals, medical dissertations and tenant law handbooks. She is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in English and women's studies.

Photo Credits

  • bottle wine and glasses with a wine image by mashe from Fotolia.com