Retail Liquor License Overview

Minnesota is relatively unusual among states in that almost all its retail liquor licenses are issued locally rather than by a state agency. This information brief describes the various types of retail licenses that are authorized by Minnesota law.

License/
Permit
Issued To For What Issued by Whom Fee Number
(as of 6/06)

On-Sale and Combination Licenses

Intoxicating
liquor
on-sale
Hotels, restaurants,
bars, lounges,
bowling centers,
theaters
On-premise consumption
of distilled spirits, wine,
strong beer
Cities
Counties*
Set locally 2,844
Intoxicating
liquor
Sunday
on-sale
Restaurants, hotels,
clubs, and bowling
centers with regular
intoxicating liquor
on-sale license
On-premise consumption
of intoxicating liquor on
Sundays
Cities and
counties where
Sunday liquor
referendums
have passed
Up to $200 2,321
(included in
on-sale total)
2 a.m. permit Establishments with
on-sale intoxicating
liquor license
Sale of intoxicating
liquor between
1:00-2:00 a.m.
Department of
Public Safety
(DPS)
$200 to
$600, based
on gross
receipts from
alcohol sales
963
Wine on-sale Restaurants seating
at least 25 guests
On-premise consumption
of wine in conjunction
with sale of food; may
also sell strong beer if at
least 60% of gross
receipts come from sale
of meals
Cities*
Counties*
Half of onsale
fee, up
to $2,000
805
Club on-sale Clubs in existence
for at least three
years
Sale of intoxicating
liquor to members and
“bona-fide guests”
Cities*
Counties*
$300-
$3,000,
depending
on number
of members
469
3.2 beer
on-sale
No limits on types of
establishments
On-premise consumption
of 3.2 beer
Cities
Counties
Set locally 915
Brewpub Licensed restaurants
with brewing
facilities
Operation of restaurant
with on-sale of beer
brewed on premises; also
off-sale in 64-oz. bottles
Cities,
counties for
restaurant
operation;
DPS for
brewery
operation
On-sale fee
set locally;
state
brewery
license $500
15
Bed &
breakfast
Owner-occupied
B&Bs with up to
eight rooms,
maximum of 20
guests
Service at no charge to
guests of up to two
glasses of wine per day
Registration
required with
DPS
No fee 111
Common
carrier
license
Common carriers
(air, rail, water)
Sale of intoxicating
liquor to passengers in
places where meals are
sold
DPS Excursion
boats on
Lake
Superior and
St. Croix and
Mississippi
rivers: $50
for 3.2 beer,
$200 for
liquor; other
fees not
specified
30
Combination
licenses –
intoxicating
liquor
Establishments
eligible for on-sale
and off-sale license
Sales of intoxicating
liquor for on-premise
and off-premise
consumption
Cities under
10,000
(Counties may
also issue in
nonurban
towns)
Not
specified
1,168
Temporary
on-sale
intoxicating
liquor
Clubs and nonprofit
organizations in
existence for at least
six years, political
committees
Sale of intoxicating
liquor for on-premise
consumption at an event
sponsored by licensee;
valid for up to four
consecutive days
Cities*
Counties*
Set locally 2,062
Consumption
and display
permits
Clubs and “business
establishments”
Allowing customers to
bring own supply of
liquor (set-ups); allowing
customers to store own
supply of liquor on
premises (bottle club)
DPS (local
approval
required)
$150 (city or
county may
impose
additional
fee up to
$300)
362
Caterer’s
permit
Restaurant with onsale
intoxicating
liquor license
Sale of intoxicating
liquor as part of meal
service at a location
other than the
restaurant’s licensed
premises
DPS $200 208
Combination
licenses – 3.2
beer
No limits on types of
establishments
Sale of 3.2 beer both for
on-premise and offpremise
consumption
Cities
Counties
Set locally 67
* If approved by the Department of Public Safety

Off-Sale Licenses

Intoxicating
liquor
off-sale
Exclusive liquor
stores
Grocery stores (in 1st
class cities if
licensed before
8/1/89)
Drug stores (if
licensed before
5/1/94)
Sale of intoxicating
liquor for off-premise
consumption; exclusive
liquor stores may also
sell tobacco, ice, soft
drinks, mixes, food
products containing
alcohol
Cities (1st class
cities, one per
5,000 pop.;
other cities, no
limit)
Counties (in
unorganized
territory and
urban towns)
City-issued:
Maximums
from $100 to
$1,000 based
on pop.
Countyissued:
maximum
$500
845
3.2 beer
off-sale
No limits on types of
establishments
Off-premise
consumption of 3.2 beer
Cities
Counties
Up to $500 881
Wine auction
– temporary
No limits on types of
establishments
Auctions of vintage wine
(maximum 600 cases per
auction) for up to three
consecutive days
Cities*
Counties*
Set locally 5
Farm winery Farm producing
wine made primarily
from Minnesota
ingredients
On- and off-sale and
wholesale of wine
produced on-premises,
up to 50,000 gallons per
year
DPS $50 22
Farm winery
– Distillery
Pre-existing farm
wineries
Production of up to
5,000 gallons of distilled
spirits
DPS $500 0

Other Licenses/Operations

Municipal
liquor stores
On-sale or off-sale,
or both
Sale of intoxicating
liquor; on-sale stores
may sell meals
Cities 10,000
and under
(may continue
to operate after
exceeding
10,000)
No license
issued;
municipally
owned and
operated
252
Tribal
licenses
Establishments
eligible for on-sale
or off-sale licenses
On-sales, off-sales, or
both depending on type
issued
Tribal
governing
bodies
Set locally 22
* If approved by the Department of Public Safety

This and any related posts have been adopted from the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department’s Information Brief, Retail Liquor License Overview.