Can I Serve Alcohol Through My Food Catering Business?

Can I Serve Alcohol Through My Food Catering Business?

August 2, 2022

Have you ever wondered if you can serve or sell alcoholic beverages through your food catering business? Catering can be an excellent opportunity for someone to create a successful business, especially if they like to cook and plan events. However, it gets complicated when you consider whether alcoholic beverages will be included as part of a catered event.


What are the Requirements


In Florida, a food catering business licensed with the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants (“H&R”), can sell and serve alcoholic beverages at catered events, if they have the proper alcoholic beverage license. A factor that affects the legality of serving alcoholic beverages at a catered event is the percentage of food vs alcohol sold at a catered event and the type of food service that will be provided. 


Some questions to consider regarding whether a license to sell alcoholic beverages should be obtained are as follows:


  • Will the event be open to the public?
  • Will there be any cost associated to attend the event, including any fees paid by a guest or an attendee of the event or will there be ticket sales?
  • Is the event being held on an alcohol licensed premises, or will the event be held at non-licensed premises?
  • Who will be purchasing and serving the alcoholic beverages at the event, the caterer or the event holder? 


Other considerations include:


  • At least 51% of a caterer’s gross income from a catered event must be from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages to qualify for and use a 13CT alcoholic beverage license;
  • The food caterer must be licensed under Chapter 509 of the Florida Statutes by H&R
  • They must purchase all alcohol from a licensed retailer; and
  • Alcoholic beverages to be sold or served at a catered event may not be stored and all alcohol not used at the event must remain with the customer or be returned to the vendor for credit or reimbursement, if same is an option.


Can You Serve Only Alcohol?

Yes, Florida law provides for that situation. If the caterer plans to serve alcoholic drinks at an event where another catering company is preparing and serving the food, they will need a consumption on premises quota license (4COP). Some caterers prefer to specialize in serving only alcohol at events. The rules for a 4COP quota alcohol license holder are different, and the alcohol caterer using this type of alcohol license does not need to derive 51% or more of their gross income from food and non-alcoholic beverages.


How to Get Licensed for a Catering Business

To acquire the proper permit to begin serving and selling alcoholic beverages at catered events, an applicant must gather documentation, such as their federal ID, right of occupancy, and clear background check by providing fingerprints. They must also fill out the appropriate liquor license application for submission to the State.  

Contact Spiritus Law if you have additional questions or need help acquiring the proper documentation or licensing to serve alcohol at your catering functions.