Cabaret License

A cabaret license can be issued to any establishment licensed to sell alcohol which offers or provides live entertainment or dancing for its guests. Live entertainment includes karaoke music or entertainment offered by a disc jockey.

How to Submit an Application

There are several ways to submit a new or renewal application to the Department of Excise and Licenses. If renewing, include your business file number.

  1. All license applications not available online can be submitted by email to When applying, attach all documents to one email. Visit the email application process page for more information.
  2. You can mail your application with fees to:

City and County of Denver
Department of Excise and Licenses
201 W. Colfax Ave., Dept. 206
Denver, CO 80202

Make checks payable to: Manager of Finance

3. You can pay fees online or by phone after the application has been submitted. You will receive an invoice and you can pay virtually. Visit the online payment process page for more information.

For questions, email or call 311.

How to Get a Cabaret License

Step 1: Determine the type of cabaret license


  • Standard – Live entertainment – no adult entertainment, no patron dancing
  • Acoustic – Unamplified live entertainment, no patron dancing
  • Dance – Live or recorded entertainment and patron dancing, no adult entertainment
  • Special dance - Live or recorded entertainment and patron dancing. Entertainment is confined to the interior or on the licensed premises as defined in the Colorado Liquor Code. Acoustic (unamplified) live entertainment or recorded entertainment and patron dancing can be provided beyond the interior; but no live entertainment can be provided beyond the interior after 8 p.m.
  • Event center – Seating capacity for at least 2,000, live or recorded entertainment and patron dancing, no adult entertainment
  • Adult cabaret – Adult entertainment is provided in addition to the entertainment included in the dance cabaret
  • Special event – A one-time or limited event that includes entertainment, a separate permit is issued.
  • Underage patrons – Allows cabaret licensees to allow patrons 16 old and older to gain entry into and participate in standard, dance, special dance, acoustic, or event center cabaret licensed establishments.


Step 2: Zone use permit

A zone use permit is required before submitting a liquor application.

A zone use permit grants the applicant/owner of a lot, building, or structure permission for the requested use of the land. "Use" can be defined as any activity, occupation, business or operation transacted in a building or on a lot/tract of land.

Use internet resources to plan before you lease or buy property and before you apply for a business license.  Follow the steps below to learn more about the approved zone uses for the address for your business.  Start on the  find your zoning page.

  1. Enter the desired address.  Click Search.
  2. Note the zone district.
  3. Click on the + to expand for more information. 
  4. Note the neighborhood context.
  5. Click on the link for the zoning code or in former chapter 59.
  6. Click on the article number for the neighborhood context noted above.
  7. Open the document and scroll to the "Use" tables at the bottom of the document.
  8. Find the "Use" category in the left column and the zone district in the columns to the right.
  9. The code in the intersecting square represents the permitted use.  (There is a key to the codes at the top of every page.)

The zone use permit must be approved and issued by the zoning department.  Learn more about the Denver Zoning Code or visit the Zoning Office.


Applying for a zone use permit


Zoning contact information



Step 3: Required documents

Application forms and business entity documents are required. All documents must be submitted in duplicate – one for the City and County of Denver and the original for the Sate of Colorado. Documents must be printed in black ink or typewritten. Photocopies are accepted. 

Information that has been supplied in a simultaneous application for a liquor license associated with the premises does not have to be resupplied if reference to the licensee's name and license number is included in the cabaret license application.

Application documents

  • Cabaret License Application(PDF, 198KB) 
  • Right of possession documents (Lease or Deed). The lease must be valid for at least 90 days from the date the application is submitted.
  • Diagram of premises
    • Include floor space and seating capacity, including any floor space to be used for dancing
    • Include number of pool tables or amusement devices
  • Individual History Form(PDF, 155KB) (required for each owner that owns 10% or more of the business)
  • Full set of fingerprints. Read more about fingerprinting and background checks. Fingerprints must be provided for members and shareholders who own 10% or more of the business entity.


Cabaret underage patrons application documents

  • Cabaret Underage Patrons Application(PDF, 218KB)
  • Cabaret Underage Patrons Guidelines(PDF, 71KB)
  • Minimum age required for admission
  • The days and hours when people younger than 21 years old will be admitted
  • How alcohol will be stored during such hours of operation
  • If people younger than 21 years old are allowed in a separate room while alcohol is being served in another area, the licensee must explain how the person younger than 21 years old will be separated from the 21-and-older patrons and what the licensee will do to prevent any mingling of patrons younger than 21 years old with patrons who are 21 years old or older.
  • The owner and manager of the licensee must file a statement they are familiar with the Denver curfew laws and will abide by them. D.R.M.C. Sec. 34-61 (a) and (b)


Additional documentation by form of business entity

Corporate applicants

  • Certificate of incorporation
  • A current certificate of good standing
  • A certificate of authority (if applicant is a foreign corporation)
  • A list of officers, directors, and stockholders of the parent corporation (The list must designate one person as the "principal officer")
  • A trade name certificate, if applicable
  • Current corporate minutes authorizing application for a liquor and/or cabaret license

Limited liability company applicants

  • Articles of organization
  • A current certificate of good standing
  • Operating agreement
  • A certificate of authority (if the applicant is a foreign company)
  • A trade name certificate, if applicable
  • Identification of its licensed premises manager

Sole proprietorship applicants

  • Trade name affidavit, if applicable


Step 4: Fees


Type of cabaret Application fee License fees
Underage cabaret $ 200 $ 750
Standard acoustic $ 500 $750
Dance / special dance $1,000 $1,500
Event center $1,000 $1,500
3.2 beer $2,000 $1,500
Adult cabaret $2,000 $3,000


Fingerprints:  $38.50 per person


Fees can be paid with cash, check, money order or credit card.  We do not accept credit card payments over the phone. 


Step 5: Public hearing

  • A public hearing is scheduled when all other requirements are complete
  • An area is designated around the proposed location where residents and business owners/managers can sign petitions and testify.
  • A sign is posted at the premises of the proposed liquor license for at least 20 days before the hearing. 
  • The posting sign must follow these guidelines:
    • Be white, sturdy, and measure 22 inches wide by 26 inches high with letters not less than 1 inch high
    • Indicate the type of license, the date and time of the hearing, the name, and address of the licensee and any partners or officers of the licensee
    • Be posted in a conspicuous place so it is visible and legible
    • Contain a map of the designated area
    • Contents to be included on the posting sign will be established by the Department of Excise and Licenses.
  • Registered neighborhood organizations, newspapers, the City Council and the police district are notified of the application and public hearing
  • Petitions are circulated in support and against the proposed liquor license.  Read more about petitions(PDF, 54KB).  
  • Public hearing is held
  • Final decision is issued by the director of Excise and Licenses


Read more about public hearings


Step 6: Required inspections

  • Zoning business license inspection (720) 913-1311
  • Building business license inspection (720) 913-1311
  • Denver Fire Department (720) 913-3409
  • Department of Public Health and Environment (720) 913-1311
  • Department of Excise and Licenses (720) 913-1311 (Last inspection - Schedule when all other inspections have been passed.)


Step 7: Get your license

Notify the Department of Excise and Licenses, at, that you would like your license emailed to you when all of the steps below have been completed.  

  1. All required documents are complete and submitted to the office.
  2. The background check, if applicable, is accepted and approved.
  3. Fees are paid.
  4. All required inspections, if applicable, are passed.
  5. All approvals are given by the state and local offices.

You should stay in touch with the Department of Excise and Licenses during the application process as each step can vary from the general steps described herein depending on your particular circumstances.






Renew a Cabaret License

Renewal process

  • Licenses are issued for one year and must be renewed every year. 
  • The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses will send renewal applications to active licensees 90 days before expiration.


Required documents

  • Application forms and business entity documents are required. All documents must be submitted in duplicate – one for the City and County of Denver and the original for the State of Colorado. Documents must be printed in black ink or typewritten. Photocopies are accepted.

    All documents should be submitted to:

    City and County of Denver
    Department of Excise and License
    201 W Colfax Ave, Dept. 206
    Denver, CO 80202


    New law mandates certain changes to the type of liquor license your establishment currently holds. This law is in regard to retail 3.2 beer on/off premises licenses (FMB On-Off), retail 3.2 beer on-premises license (FMB On), and retail 3.2 beer off-premises license (FMB Off).

    No more issuance or renewals of FMB On/Off licenses as of June 4, 2018:

    ● No new or renew retail FMB on-off licenses will be issued by the local or state licensing authorities.

    ● Upon their annual renewal, an existing FMB on-off licensee must convert to an FMB on or FMB off.

    ● To facilitate this request, the licensee must submit along with their renewal application a written notification to their local licensing authority and state licensing authority.

    ● If you have recently submitted a renewal application, the state licensing authority or local licensing authority will be in contact so you can communicate your preference in writing.

    ● When you receive renewal paperwork from the state licensing authority 90 days before license expiration, this letter will accompany your renewal paperwork reminding you of this change.

    ● Submit your renewal application to your local licensing authority. Notify it in writing of your selected licensing preference.

    Your license will not be renewed until this information is conveyed to your local licensing authority.



Late renewals

Licenses must be renewed on or before the expiration date to avoid penalty fees.

90-day grace period

There is a 90-day grace period from the expiration date during which licenses can be renewed for a penalty fee.

First 30 days of grace period:  20% penalty fee

Days 31 - 90:  50% penalty fee

After 90 days: A new license application is required. 


Public hearings for renewal of license

  • The director of the Department of Excise and Licenses can determine a valid basis exists to conduct a public hearing on an application for renewal or change of ownership of a cabaret license. 
  • Procedures will be followed about posting, publication, and notification of the hearing.
  • Once the hearing is held, the director of excise and licenses will issue a final written decision.


Renewal policies

  • Department of Excise and Licenses inspectors will attempt to locate and notify business license holders of the approaching expiration date.  But failure of an inspector to notify a delinquent licensee that its license has expired does not excuse the licensee from any applicable late penalty.